dont worry about the door, get going!

before the last bit of this year runs away from me, i thought i would drag its feet to the table and sit it down to have a proper if short farewell. there are few bits that needs to be taken care of during the day and once i set out, i am afraid that i just wont be able to find the space in my head. it's not that im travelling a great deal or going to a loud show today. but end of the year, like the last bits of the bath water, always seems to go down the drain fast and furious. curious isnt it! with that... swoooop! noise. all that warm water and bubbles gone, until it's filled up again.

i have been too concerned about the flow of time and the things that i dont want to let go recently- being too self-conscious perhaps. year 2009 was the year of counting. with many cusp points. like a great balanced sine wave, many curves, here and there, weaving in and out through many different fabrics- myself, others, friends, family, strangers and people who i dont really know but came in contact with somehow. brownian motions of people in real time. bouncing around in the great ebbs and flow of life. yes, foucault- proper heterotopias. and of course, it's rather post-modernistic and existentialistic, i know.

but beside the long and big words, the main feelings have been rather simple: surprise, love, unease, fellowship, compassion, sympathy, empathy, resonance, loss, yearning, cautious, risky, affection, grace, thankfulness.

the situations and context of my life: large chunk of it in the mountains- the great canadian rockies and grey-blue-black-molten brown rocks with shards of ice and sun, the soft carpet of snow haze and almost iridescent greens of summer evergreens.
a bit back in toronto: the land where it never sleeps, on 40 gerrard st., perched high and riding the tides of high winds, looking down at the little streams of lives as people pass on foot, bike, cars, with backdrop of bright and never-ending stream of artificial lights.
a bit in unforeseen meandering to the old world, where i currently am: the first time i was here it was full of little bahhh lambs who could hardly walk, with moorland full of life. it still has vast open sky and rolling hills, but at the moment, the hills are speckled with white patches of snow, set against black coals ablaze- red, orange and golden amber.

the people, the building blocks of my life- many newly gained friends and partners, perhaps a few lost- what a shame, i bow to keep the human connections as priority but sometimes one slips through my head and i am sorry if i have not been in touch. but the chances are i still have much room and feelings for you, and may be even be thinking of you quite often. i will get my pen up again and will write. and i try not to forget individuals whom i have resonated with, admired and cared for. all these small interactions once again shaped me as who i am now. on the last day of 2009. another decade slipping through the clock. and after the midnight ring, there'll be another one somewhere, then another. until we run out. by then, it will be another day, as the clock hands will travel through, steadily and expectantly, with no care for the larger units of time.

i grew, i lost. i gained i laughed. i cried and i was even speechless at times. oh and the richness of music, sound, touch, taste, sight, colours, shape, momentum of great big and small things... the rattling movement of gigantic planes to the smallest muscle control on the quietest note on the piano. the slightest movement of first opening of eyes to a brand new day, the last conscious relief of exhaled breath as one falls asleep. the warmth of the skin against the coldness of the wintry air. the slight sweat on back of the neck on the soft ground of summer earth. scent of a living being.

how does one put such feelings and emotional collections into words? one cannot. but still tries to make a representations of it, as an effort to keep it alive. human brain, a proper junk room, i wish mine would look like a mix between a playroom, a work space and a library without end. oh and many windows and a big door.

thank you for entering into my life. if i have not noticed you yet, i am sorry, i will try to get to know you better and that's not just empty words. and if you are still here, feel free to grab a seat and join in. i think there's always some more hot water for the tea pot.

and for you, dear year 2009, the decade which may be known as big-zero, fare thee well. make sure you zipped your jacket- it's still wee bit cold. and if you see 2010 rolling in with gusto, give him a hug and send it this way yeah?

love and best wishes for you all.


brownian motion

the uncertainty in life certainly opens many doors. or should i call it being indecisive and not committed? last year this time, i was back in toronto, just finishing up rows of church services and having a little bit of time between starbucks barista days to first day in banff (i think it was the fourth of january). and i did not know what kind of place banff was, never been! it being iconic centre of canadian classical music (among other things), i just never been there- as the summer program tuitions can be quite high and i rather preferred to go to where i wont have to folk up so much.

so it may seem hat i am money-conscious, financially paranoid. but it really is the opposite in a sense that the reason i was working at starbucks was to make some petty dollars, instead of taking a grown-man job like teaching posts and such. i was lucky enough to have enough resources to swing starbucks 40hrs/wk job and not have to starve. so it was one of those movie scenes, doctor barista who have been disillusioned about life of academia and endless discussion of frivolities such as semiotics and phenomenology and such. ooh well done, fashionable.

but then because i wasnt committed i went to banff. and 2009 changed pretty much everything. and now i am at the very end of it, looking into 2010 and in couple weeks i will know where i would be by the second half of the year: back to north america or return to europe? and that's additional question to the countless small changes that are just waiting to be found- like the way i interpret music, play, the aesthetic values (see, i did practice a bit! though i did waste a lot more time in comparison, ha)

there are so many new things and ideas, people and possibilities floating around my head at the moment. like the end of the burning cigarette, i cant really direct them or predict which way they are going to go. perfect brownian motions in monkey skull. brilliant! settle down you little buggers!

kinetic theory of gases guesses that there are about 26 billion trillion molecules to about a cubic centimeter of air. these molecules are somewhat like floating squash balls. they are elastic and moves at a very fast speed. and smaller they are, the faster they move. think small children at a mall. where do they come from really? and like children who were fed too much candy, the energy the molecule contains, the more volatile they are. so they run around among larger beings, let's classify them as particles (like smoke particles). so as cigarette burns and changes the temperature around itself, the small molecules get loose and start to run into everyone and make the movement visual to the human eye- and these larger particles do need some knocking around, as fat bastards, they need more energy to cover the same distances as the lightweights. so really, molecules arent to blame.

this is brownian motion. in 1829, a scottish bloke by name of robert brown observed the tiny dirt particles floating around small pool of water like 'drunk' and by 1905, the messy haired boy names albert e. have came up with the avogadro's number and theory of brownian motion. quite difficult to predict and calculate the circumstances and behavior of brownian motion, but often one does not need mad scientist or a babbling musician to realize that blue smoke on end of the cigarette is quite- drunk and unexpected. all over, but with almost recognizable pattern.

as i am waiting and starting to lazily prep for my audition (yawn), i cant help but to think what else is going to happen? would i get in? no? what impact would it have? what would i do and where would i be? if i am not in, what should i do back in north america? if am in, what kind of things are am i looking at? are my expectations realistic or am i jaded for hoping for some sort of objected future where all i can see is subjective real time present?

but i think the best i could do at the moment is what i have done all this time during the periods of uncertainty and great freedom: wait, work honestly and keep your eyes/ears open. it is sort of a lame approach if you are the kind of individual who is willing to be a hard-working protagonist: i will make it! i will take charge!! i am going to be proactive!!!

i havent really given that option much thought, but from what i have seen it's got rather low rate of success and my own personal recollection tells me that lounging around seems to work for me, at least. so i havent got much material wealth or any measurable honours from the typical society. but hey, im debt free, i got loads of friends who i love dearly, i am always taken care of- by the best people mind you, with richest sets of memories.

not so bad for a lazy bugger no?

all i know for certain is that i will die. life is a sexually transmitted disease someone said. ahaha true. i supposed the rest is mystery. who am i argue with the fact that the end is near? *how near, i dont really know for sure- it could be as early as tomorrow. so may be i should go with one of my favorite writer, m. gide (whose books l'immoraliste and la porte etroite i have enjoyed at occasions as a self-punishing but great literature) :
the most decisive actions of our life... are most often unconsidered actions.
amen m. gide. life itself already is quite a miracle anyways. so rather than looking at it like a some sort of tax spreadsheet, why not look it as inconceivable however beautiful personal universe? brownian motion- it has some additional applications beside entertaining the smokers during the cold winter days it seems. like filling up monkey head with a slight sense of anticipation and lots of curiosity. warmest wishes for all who are with the monkey venture. i have been so lucky. and for now- bed time! bonne nuit, good night, guten nacht.. zz...z.


look, no hands...!

i woke from not unpleasant but a rather surprising dream today. this is quite a notable experience as i dont dream much. well, let's rephrase- i dont get to dream much. since i am a rather helpless insomniac, i am either up most of the time or in haze of very thin veils of sleep- that lets the consciousness to seep through, never quite dark or silent enough for a proper REM state. i had two occasion of dreaming this fall and winter so far and the last one was in banff. and that was a nice surprise- meant that i actually slept and rested. aah the sense of renewal and comfort! that was magic. and now one from last night, from post- christmas. i often hear people complaining about obscene or nonsense dreams; usually im slightly envious, as the ability to dream is one i frequently lack and the very concept of having a free- roaming consciousness in the world of no boundaries appeal a great deal. fantasy land.

i was in a house, consisted of couple different places that i have lived, all collaged onto one space. living room from my childhood, bedroom- well, the dorm room i lived for three years back in the states, the garden from the kansas home i lived with the finneys, basement of my first childhood home (as that was the only place that had a basement i remember), hallways from somewhat dreaded lloyd hall of banff centre, kitchen from my toronto residence, etc. and i could hear people and i was calling out to them because-

i had no hands. just stumps.

it wasnt nasty. just couple bits hanging around but quite closed stumps, like when you break off a joint of those anatomical figurines from art class. no blood, just rounded edges and the sense of 'missing' things. only reason it looks weird is that you 'know' there are more things, supposedly. looking like rag doll who didnt get hands because the maker ran out of fabrics or something. round. blunt.

i wasnt frightened, more surprised: where did they go? so i started to look around the house. going through all kinds of different spaces from different eras of my life. bits and pieces. and i could hear some voices over the walls as well:

monkey: hey guys, where are you?
guys: hey come in, we were waiting-
m: i can't really- i have no-
g: -and there's some wine in the kitchen, feel free to go get some!
m: --no hands

they seemed completely happy and busy and so i thought perhaps i should just go and try to figure something out. so i set out to find my hands. and then there was this random stairs leading down- ooh a basement. and i stumbled onto... a hand.

i took a look at it and decided it wasnt mine. kind of bloody, once again, not gross, just a bit of dust and sticky bits. all shriveled up like raisins, quite closed however still in neutral position. looking really worn and old though. like the colour of one's finger when it's been wrapped around with tight rubber band- kind of waxy white. can it be possibly? nah.

so i came back up and looked for my hands while my friends were yelling across the wall (nice, i still couldnt open any doors because.. well i couldnt grip), then... morning!


without my hands, i will be quite useless i think. as a musician. as a person. i wont be able to do anything really would i. the typical joke i say- 'well, i will rent a car and drive it off the cliff,' even that wont fly anymore. no handless person will be allowed to rent a car- as even if rental companies may be willing to, i wont be able to sign the damned contract! ironic. i wont even be able to hang myself, as tying the death knot with no hands would be- well difficult, and if you ask someone else to do it, it just may be too.. obvious. har har har.

so couple seconds, minutes, who knows how long, wandering around with no hands.

im amused that i wasnt screaming or anything. should be more horror-flick ish no? but just... kinda dumb stunned. perhaps i am worried about the audition. may be i am feeling incapable. or my brain went bonkers for having some real REM sleep and threw every logic to the air and saw some incredibly odd scenario. sure, dreams may represent something but surely not all dreams can mean something all the time. there are some duds, like all things- margin of errors!

i have no idea where that thought came from but it did made me think about some other extended situations, including not having an instrument. it always have been such a problem whenever i was out of school. difficult. i speak with my hands supposedly. and not having the tools/instruments often made me think of 'having no hands.' as if i became mute because i am an amputee. weird isnt it? but since i do have some realistic access to two good instruments (thanks to the generosity of friends!!), i am sure it didnt come from the fear/qualm/anxiety of not having instruments at the moment (in fact, today was the first practice day since banff. sounded rather rudimentary and rough but if i do sound better tomorrow, it's all okay, i told myself, patting self on shoulder, with my own HAND!).

it does make me think about the possibility of losing a voice. losing the ability to express. whether it be through scribbles on a paper, on piano or another instrument, a simple act of touch and hold, to make a pot of tea to share, breaking a chocolate bar and offer to another person, opening the door to let someone in, folding paper airplanes, cutting bits of papers, fingers intertwined with another person's fingers in ease and resonance, to bid a temporary good bye wave-

not a real voice, but a figurative voice: my hands.
the one that lets me 'speak,' to 'discourse,' to 'articulate.'
hands, in my case, are much more vocal than my own 'voice,'
silly but real.

what do you have as your main 'voice' dear reader?

are your ears your voice- are you a listener/observer?
is your heart your voice- a sensitive soul?
perhaps through sounds- you verbalize, sing and converse?
do you speak through your eyes- visual communicator?
one like me- speak through hands?

what about hands- as of hands on the clock? progress of time? changes? and if there is no hands on the clock- how does one keep track of the subjective flow of time- life? no indication, no recollection, no references, just blind flow, like being pushed with the crowd in the mash pits of a punk concert...! most of the time, in english expression, no-hands usually is associated with something clever- like riding the bike with no hands, hand-free talking with bluetooth phone set, etc etc. as if letting go of the hands, or rather, making the hands an obsolete part of an operation/action, hence somehow better, talented or something. yeah- well, with no hands, you dont get to make that choice do you! you wont be riding the bike in the first place, more likely!

a slight fear in monkey head!

thank god i still have my hands!


promise of departed ship

it's about 1208 gmt on 25-12-2009. with all kinds of rituals, festivities and businesses around the iconic date- whether it is directly related to it, for/against it, or simply related by proximity, christmas is here. 8 minutes ago.

the christianity believes this is the symbolic arrival of the messiah. for the jews,they had their chanuka earlier this month. the muslims will be celebrating the day of ashura very soon. a bit later in january, the hindu festival makar sankrant will be here. the korean families back home will be eating the red bean soup to repel the end of the year bad luck and prepare the rice cakes for the new year's soup. the large percent of population of the world will be celebrating end of the year, and the position of christmas, not even a week from the end of the year, makes it very easy date to celebrate- the statue of it as legal holiday in many places also helps quite a bit i think. and anywhere that has been touched with western culture- however heavy or light, will be at least partially influenced by the christian traditions- and now influenced by all kinds of multicultural and economical influences... the various facets of christmas or winter holiday is a very complex one to put into words. but we all have a place for them in each mind. unique and real.

perhaps christmastide have became simpler: it is the symbolic time of exploring the old memories, forming new ones, recollect the bits you have missed. the bits you want to lose, the people you are pained to see, the people you cannot wait to meet, the people you are with, the people you will be with. large amount of population goes through extensive travelling to converge, meaning they have diverged from their normal environment, for one simple reason- it's the time for collective reflection.

it is easy to see how many of us have missed the mark, just slightly below the bulls eye with the business of spending and crammed activities. but it is important to think about the reason why one goes overboard. let's be forgiving and generous to others and oneself (as i am sure i have twisted many intentions now and in the past to suit myself) to think that we went overboard and lost our cool because essentially we wanted to be nice to the people around us. the simple abundance of commercial good and the ease of acquiring such things may have replaced the initial intention of shared joy. as consequence, there are much unhappiness and feeling of inadequacy when one is not able to provide material goods or sufficient time (much more rare but true), which may be expressed as frustrations or anger towards oneself/others. but rather than faulting one, it would be much more appropriate to incorporate the intentions of the gestures i think.

even a crap gift is a gift. it's an offering. and it is the time of reconciliation and forgiveness. as time never turns back. one does not come back to a same point- family home, old town, wherever one traditionally go. return means re+turn. you have turned around again.
c.1366, "to come back," from O.Fr. retorner "turn back, return," from re- "back" + torner "to turn" (see turn). Transitive sense is attested from c.1420. The noun is first attested c.1390, "act of coming back."
that means one must account for the time that have passed. like the promise of the departed ship. it may return and it may not. but one point is true: it will return in a different point of time and nothing will be the same. it may appear very similar but as the ship have traveled, as the passengers traveled, the lives have changed. and then we converge, flock towards one another to be together, social animals, and by the act of sharing, offering, comprehension and acceptance, we become something greater than living organisms. we are conscious and alive.

there are so many thoughts and wishes i want to send to my loved ones. friends. mentors. the passerbys on the flights who may no longer remember me. may be echoes from the ones who have left this physical world before this time. each one very different from one another, as my relation to them are constantly changing, never exactly the same. evolving. like the constellation- far, wide, universe ever-expanding, the light impressions from eons ago, but still, connected and vivid, as imageries that was held together through the human ages, evocative and big enough to be shared through at least half of the world. some close and some far.

what could i wish for this day- as part of tradition, of culture, or perhaps a simple personal wish? i say i wish that at least some point in this time paradigm, i can evoke beauty in lives of my own and others. but not by myself, however by being in contact with them. yes. like chemical reaction, as i was frequently saying this entire year. and by being able to appreciate such simple concept, i can then say the specifics without the worries of misunderstanding, lost courage or the strict lifeless formality.

in terra pax hominibus, bonae voluntatis.

we all carry hope and promise of departed ships. if you have returned to a port, as i have, whether it be a physical space or proximity to people, do keep that hope and promise alive. as we are soon to depart again, to million directions. as converged (in physics that would be coming together of light rays at a focal point), will diverge (1665, from L. divergere: go in different directions, from dis (apart) + vergere (to bend, turn)). and from the departure, once again, the motion will be set, riding the tide of time. and i wish to salute you with a full heart, courage!

love to you all.


mistrusted but still loved by a few

greetings from the old world, after much delays and rather shocking discoveries about the 'real' world. after two straight days of sleeping, im semi-conscious and extremely lazy. so i figured perhaps this may be the right time to recollect what kind of impact the 'border control' would have on monkey consciousness.

it all came down to the fact that i have not bought a return ticket. this would be the very first time that i am travelling with one way ticket as getting an open ticket would cost even more than buying two separate tickets and with charter airlines, it isnt even an option to get an open ticket! so i figured, great, when march rolls around, i will know exactly i need to get back to toronto for work, so i will just get one way ticket. WRONG.

after much delays (3 hours! the british stopped the airport because of some pansy snow! how inconvenient for me! haha) and super chatty ultra-christian formerly mechanical engineer businessman who plays the keyboard for his church, and another final delay at the runway (something about the stairs being frozen or something very bastardy like that), i was finally or funnily at the border control.

and came the unexpected encounter with the 'real' world. my passport, south korean, allows visitor's stay for up to six months in uk. and ive been travelling to/from europe at least once a year since 2000 so i wasnt expecting any problem at all.

officer: .. so your purpose of stay?
monkey: to visit friends and to have an audition in january.
o: and when do you head back?
m: i am not sure sir, im scheduled to work at the university of toronto in march so probably march?
o: how do i know that you are going to head back and not stay illegally?
m: (WHAT?)

i was completely flabbergasted. are you serious? didnt i just tell you that i wont overstay what my visa allotment of six months? i never thought of the case they wont believe me or even worse, assume me as a possible lying-illegal immigration squatter. i suppose the problem was the one way ticket.

officer: but you have only one way ticket, how do i know you will leave?
m: i have other things to tend back in canada, i will be back in march. i bought one way ticket because the date of my return has not been finalized.
o: why didnt you get a open ticket?
m: because if you fly charter, you cannot get an open ticket. you could only get it if you get it through major airline and that's over my budget.
o: you are telling me one way tickets are cheaper?
m: if you are flying non-major airline, yes sir.
o: well, what do you do?
m: i am a musician.
o: and you plan to stay and do nothing for awhile?
m: well i just finished an internship and yes, im taking the time to sort things out.
o: (gives a weird look)
m: ... it is somewhat common for us to do in music, to take time and sort things out-

then things got even more dicey.

o: how much money are you bringing?
m: with me at the moment, zero, as i was expecting to hi up the cash point. but in my bank account back at home, i have x amo.
o: how would you prove it?
m: i donno, shall we call my bank phone service line? or i suppose i have my credit card as well.
o: what is the limit on your credit card?
m: x dollars a month sir.
o: i want to see it.

so i hand over my visa card and came the most unexpected part of the conversation, even more insulting.

o: ... well dr. lee, i will go do some checks and come right back. do take a sit by there.
m: ....

he eventually came back and stamped my passport with grave face full of mistrust and warning.

o: now, you have taken a great risk by coming here with no papers
m: but you see, i thought there is no required information on your border services website about bringing any sort of papers-
o: well, you must be able to prove that you will leave and not stay
m: okay.
o: seriously, i would suggest that you would leave by march though you could stay till june, if not, you may be denied entrance on your next trip.

with slew of 'recommended' list of papers and such damning warning, i crossed the border. and i realized that this is the first unpleasant business-like human transaction i have had since i left banff. in banff, i really was living in a spaceship, where all interactions, not all of them pleasant of course, but they were all without pretension or lies. all my folks who i consider friends, we had no reasons to mistrust or doubt one another and it was an environment where all of us were able to be without big helmets and protective gears. natural. easy. truthful communications.

and to have it broken like that, it really left a dent in my head. i am still working through it. the man did not wanted to believe what i had to say, nor he really cared about what my plans are. he just wanted to see some papers so that he may do the portion of his work and go home. he didnt care whether the paper be real or not. he didnt listen to anything. for him, all i was a suspicious non-eu alien who may become burden to the united kingdom. it was such a crazy idea to be not trusted, even worse, to be questioned like a criminal.

i have friends i want to see, that makes me a criminal? what?

then another crazy point. after he saw my stupid cred card with dumb 'dr' on it, his attitude changed a great deal. as if he could trust me for extra 25 percent or something. give me a break. what if i was to tell him i have a phd degree, but it wasnt on my visa card? would he believe me? i dont think so. i didnt even thought about the power of those two letters before my name. i got the title changed on a card out of a dare. so apparently from being a lowlife illegal immigrant criminal, i suddenly transformed into a careless dr. of music. what a concept.

what are we all afraid of? why are we so paranoid and fearful? in conversation with a friend, he expressed such a disappointment about the recent poll against erection of minaret towers in various parts of europe. why are we so closed and what is the point of having a community if it means to keep everyone whose not included absolutely out of the circle? if one is not to trust the other, why do we even bother asking questions? call me naive or stupid, either way, the interaction at the border was something that was completely unexpected and shocking. the first real break on the monkey life, which, up to this point, was nicely shielded and protected from the normality of median-mean life.

he couldnt believe that i was just take three months off schedule and be what i needed to be and to travel and do whatever i would please. he was questioning if i was sane or if i was just a liar. i do realize it may not be the norm to take chunk of time off from the rat race, but you see, i havent had a 9-5 job until this date and i dont plan to change it if i could help it. i like the freedom i have, yes, i could use more money but money is just money isnt it? why is it so difficult to believe that i need the time, or rather i would take the time for my own self? is it so out of norm to not to care so much about the financial stability? but such things do exist? i dont really know anymore.

so as i collected my bags and came out, i was really tired. worn out. broken. hurt. baffled. i, unfortunately, despite of my wishings, met mr. salamander with the longest face and less faith in the world. and all i wanted was to be in europe and be close to my dear friends and perhaps be really lucky to see them in spring and have a kick butt audition. however, all i had was the impact of the punch in the guts: mistrust, paranoia and fear.

after sleeping most of past two days, i am well and happy. im typing this right by the real coal fire after having a nice tea and fire-toasted bread. it's snowing outside in derbyshire and im warm and well-taken care of. but i cant help to re-taste the bitter reality of some people's daily life- mistrust, fear, hate, lack of willingness to really listen and to respond to another human being. border control is not humanistic, but more like a cattle farm. depending on your tag on your neck, you may be sent to sausage factory or to the pasture. great. is this what we have all hoped for as responsible individuals of a society? im not saying canadian customs officers are much better, but for the europe being proud of their own heritages, i say shame on you. shame on all defensive, fearful citizens and bureaucracy, not just europe, but everywhere. europe, you have claimed over the centuries about your superiority and maturity over the red-faced savages of north america and slant-eyed asians. well let me tell you. you arent much better. as a general collective, you have failed to install human values in your conduct.

it is our only hope that individuals, despite of the shortcomings of the larger collectives, still are conscious and willing to be good humans. as i think of all my friends, i am renewed in my belief in humanism. as i am breaking bread with friends, as i pour them a glass of wine, i am glad to take another fresh breath in, air of genuine human connection. as i read another line from distanced friends, i am relieved and cared for, not as a suspicious individual, but as of a person with ideas and feelings.

so came the first puncture on the banff balloon that have protected monkey so nicely for the year. i guess it was due. now, lets see if i could keep my head straight to keep the most of banff, as much as i can, as the harsh 'real' world does not have to bey my reality. it is someone's. but i much prefer the nicer universe i can belong to. and that i already belong.



It has been three hours and a half since monkey has boarded this artificial coke can ride. With the unexpected however familiar delay at the winter airport in north america of two hours, the journey across the atlantic has been... well, not so fast! Funny isn’t it, because i do know that the speed of the plane at this point is something quite ridiculous, as the general humming of the electricity running through the red and black veins of the machine permeates through the gracious melody of Mozart quartet from my headphone, soaking monkey body with relentless resonance. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, it says.

It is hard to believe that i am actually on this flight and im trying to be as neutral as possible about the things to come- you know how silly it gets with expectations. Building a life based on expectation is one of the most dangerous things to do i think. The sweeter you dream, easier it becomes to stay in the dream, and all the sudden you realize that you have not been living, but only slumbering and dreaming. An aspiration must become an inspiration for it to become a reality and only in the present one can live- within the flow of time. Never static. Always going somewhere. I could think at least two works that deals with the idea of sleepers- well, the obvious would be the pre-discussed number from the Schubert, winterreise: im dorfe and bach’s cantata: wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme, bwv 140.


And then there’s also works that deals with the great awakening from the restful sleep with proper dream- full of hope, aspiration and renewed sense of the world, perhaps strauss’s lieder morgen should do (what a magical opening that is. A sublime transition from the unconscious, deep, sweet sleep to the new morning, still with sense of hope and optimism, now in the conscious present).


And that is where i would like to be in march, well-balanced, centered, transitioning from still to motion.

This is perhaps one of the least structured time period i will have in my life. Cant say for sure, but the idea that i have one audition to do in January is a very funny one, as i don’t particularly plan to be back in yyz till march. No work, no schedule, no deadlines- well mostly. What i would really like to engineer another short visit to Banff for the spring, perhaps on way back from the old world, en route to yyz, may be a week or two. I was informed that winter term will be seam-busting busy but if it works out that would be a great way to celebrate my spring, as many of my friends will be in the mountains during that time. I would also like to go see some dear friends who are in Europe, as travelling would be quite easier- mentally, physically and fiscally. It’s silly that it always comes down to money, but at least i have solved one problem- that of time. Ooh and learn one thing: to be slower.

Couple years ago, this idea of unstructured time would have been brutally difficult for me. Just like improvisation. What do you mean i have to figure it out- you simply wont dictate to me? Funny enough, the toughest thing to pack last night was scores. Can you believe it? Well, it’s quite a logical thing for monkey: for years, i always have been informed beforehand what my expected repertoires will be, so you just pack that. As collaborative monkey, one realize that there is barely enough time to do a decent, all-in-effort/time for may be a handful of projects, so one usually put ‘optional’ scores aside. And the instrumentalists usually bring their scores with them- great! However, this time, i have to decide what i will be working on (luckily i will have access to practice facilities, great! And now equipped with new zoom Q3- high quality audio/okay-video recording device, i am hoping i could do some real slow practice).

The first temptation was to pack everything i like. Well, that wont fly! So i sat there, looking at my leaves of music and desperately trying to figure it out. Then i gave up. I will bring 5 things. And they are all good works. Okay. That’s enough. The rest will fall into places. As they always do. And then audition pieces. Great. Hopefully that will leave me with bits and pieces of empty spaces so that i may learn to appreciate those spaces. Silence, still, but not stagnant. Rather, pregnant with real possibilities and chances to unfold, uncurl and sprout upward. Without the external business, perhaps this would be the time i will be able to face my own self without preconception or self-absorbed/prescribed identity.

This idea of looking from the outside slowly is going to be the mantra of the year i think. For past thirty years, regardless of the actual possibility, i always have been given things to do and i took them without much consideration. Proper dada. All mixed up, consuming and juxtaposing, nullifying and terrifying. Oh my. Sounds like a garbage disposal in the kitchen. BRRRRR. Loud and obnoxious really. If you give more, i will do more. I cant really say ive done my best, but i did what i could. And it’s always been alright. But now- time for a different thing. I will make a conscious effort. It wont be terribly foreign i hope, as i had much chance to share this slow-beauty concept with several people in Banff. Just different, to try it out for my own self. Well, here goes nothing.

I don’t really have a clear idea of plan for the future at the moment. There are couple really nice doors that are crack-open and it’s my own will and the collective action that will determine which one i walk into. And in any cases, it will always bring more possibilities and variants. And i shall let the differences of each refracted light to stain my own mind- a tabula rasa. For now... with slight but supple perfume of Debussy cello sonata tickling my nose, i am going to forget the world and enjoy the sound. Step no 1 in path of... slowness. It is no longer just music or an audio track. It now contains stories of people i dearly love and lived with, their lives intertwined, simply presented from a particular point of time, rich and real. The additional- story of the composition itself, the history, culture, it’ll all pop out from the flat 2D, much like pop-up books, just better. Only if i let the page to stay open so that the intricate folding of papers will come alive with that additional third dimension. 3D. Then perhaps back to a bit more Mozart. If i dare, may be some Beethoven.

How these digital tracks become real-living beings with time and careful attention! While in a big projectile motion of a silver bullet across the sea, i am able to escape from the monotony of plane ride. I am not in a simple plane ride. I am riding on the back of that silvery sparking light, travelling through scattered glitters of colours. Fast movement in a still mind. I am very hopeful about this coming year. I wont fall asleep but be aware and actively observe. Look where it takes me!


da-da-da-da. no, i havent lost it yet.

monkey's not packing. well, not right now anyways. i just finished fiddling around my head with the idea of dadaism. the anti-art. the polar opposite of the good old traditions... rejection, question, contradiction, destruction, consumption. 'da, da-' ('yes, yes' in roumanian), whatever goes. with good sprinkle of sarcasm and cynicism, yes. or it couldve been 'dada,' the great children's favorite, the hobbyhorse!

it's the damned kandinsky and miro from the other night, i swear. it's like a flu- viral infection of a sort. i be in the visual arts realm for a bit i suppose. as a child of postmodernism, it's a curse and a halo- the need to digest, contextualize. salvation and damnation. crap.

i was in nyc in 2005 (or was it 2006?) for the summer, participating in mannes institute for contemporary music. i made a funny choice of staying in a rather dinky and sketchy hostel for the entire duration of the festival, as i was sort of curious to see how other people live. hostels, you may stay may be a week or so, but i never have stayed in such extension, so i had to give it a shot. last time i checked, that hostel was no longer there or now is called something else, around 120s st and broadway. instead of doing high sophisticated modernistic contemporary classical music, i was mingling with transient works, teenage tourists, a chef boy who was staying there as temp residence, a british former office code monkey who was taking an amazing amount of time (back then, i was still rather sheltered i think) of couple months to just to go around to see... amazingly some of them i still keep in touch once in a blue moon. bizarre eh?

i was somewhat naive when i went i think. i thought hey, it's a contemp festival- we are all going to share, be eager to participate, provoke one another and make something happen. oh how utopian of me really. instead what i found was somewhat colder reality: many people fighting to get ahead in the hierarchy- whatever it may be, from the instruments they play to what concert they are playing and where they got their shoes, etc. nutters. oh boy. i didnt survive that atmosphere at all. i was squashed on the side like fly who licked the fragrant poison block with all enthusiasm. by mid-first week, i was thinking music does not need to be like this. screw it. i liked my instrumental partner enough. we played some takemitsu and that was really nice. however some bits were just plain weird- like when charles rosen nipped at me for murdering schoenberg. well, i suppose it's nice that schoenberg was long dead, sorry mr. rosen. after that festival, i dont think i was able to kindle back my interest for contemp music. oops. ive been dada-ed.

the art and beauty i found was on the street and hostel. mingling with all kinds of people, i saw and drank different air daily. instead of trying to redeem myself from the often toothy critique of cut-throat new york elite musicians, i opted to rent a remote sailboat at central park, jump in to help an inexperienced teacher at the natural history museum with children (who were more like pack of wolves i thought), trying to take all the big chunky salt off my street pretzel, that kind of activities. inconsequential- perhaps, however great influencers, these nonchalant activities. i talked to a mad green farmer at the local wknd farmer's market, ate the best breads of the town, went to see and drank cachaca with random capoeira group who were doing demos on one of the squares. i went to the foreign films, took wrong trains and got off at wrong places. and i was lucky for max ernst exhibition at the MoMA.

now, it was a very bookish thing to do, to dip into dadaism and surrealism. from the bit of formal education, i knew who man ray and marcel duchamp were. i passed with a good mark on essay on berlin dadaists in the past. i even loved some works for les six- especially work of erik satie: how wonderfully all over the place! and i knew briefly of max ernst, who i vaguely remembered as the one of the pioneers of the movement as my real interest was really with fluxus movement (ooh my i love richard serra- though he's considered closer to process art... but john cage- he's the smack absolute icon of fluxus for me). i liked ernst especially because at that time i was really not very fond of photomontage or collage and up to this day, it's quite difficult for me to feel at home with assemblage and readymades: 'it's a urinal! i dont get it! calling it a fountain wont cut it..'

okay so whats with this long boring scholarly crap? well, i feel that i am a living dada. all juxtaposed, collaged, things that arent normally related by, things that are disjunct and comical, often scary and all-consuming. most of all, confusing to the general public. but honest (as huelsenbeck claimed dada as absolute honesty. funny isnt it. honesty being not understandable!)
as i am to pack to leave to europe for awhile, i had to explain what is that i want to do in my life to various groups of people. like canterbury tales, it just got absurd every time. esp. for my gene pool units who are desperately trying to understand WHY i must raise the dust and roam around with no real direction at all. only answer i had was that i have enough direction, but being a proper atom, i donno which direction im going until i get there to meet my kinds- extremely similar or extremely different, i like strong covalent bondings.

so hence comes the need to pack. okay fine. what do i pack? i have no idea. what do i need? very little stuff. what do i like? too much stuff. ooh the consumerist luxury vs. the need to be free of things. it's already a juxtaposition. and as i am putting things down on the floor, i just lost it. so modernistic. making list, packing, meticulous, being prepared, proper. but this is not me, i wanted to say! but i need to do this so that i may be free'r' later (not worrying about contacts solution during flights and such). for a kid who claims to be wanderer, i care too much about things! so there are still bits and pieces of my life stewn across the house and i have absolutely zero enthusiasm to organize it. way to go monkey!

well, i will be ready for my 11am bus to airport. no worries on that. the things on the floor, unrelated bits of life, just like collage. looking at them makes my eyes spin. provoking. multiple realities and heterotopias- the reasons and preference of things that i am packing, the personal needs, oh my the list can go on. or could it be that i am just being stupid because i am not sleeping? who knows. i am so not practical at times. i am the anti-purpose, haha. perhaps hint of anarchy?

and here's one of my favorite paintings of ernst: l'ange du foyer. the image of an angel. fireplace- hearth as the heart of the house, house- establishment- tradition- settlement- predictable future- comfort- 'ante'- contradiction, the constellation of mad monkey head will keep expanding. and it's so nice to see such dynamic expression on the angel. it's completely mad. so many identities all mixed in, clashing and bashing onto one another. just like bits of my life in yyz, banff, past, present, europe, future, all somehow coexisting in my head.

it's not a surprise to remember it's also got second title: le triomphe du surrealisme. it gets even more crazy when one remember the concept of surreal number: continuum of number- real, inifinite and all kinds of other ordinal numbers. the biggest set! if you think this is unrelated to real life, i have to just tell you one expression: 'to infinity and beyond!'
im not even joking. surreal numbers are the basis of game theory. ooh i feel large yawns and scrolling down screens. fine, i will stop (also because i would need to go back and refresch quite a bit).

so in the midst of nutter thoughts, i better go back and finish packing before im entirely screwed. i dont think that would happen. a proper dada painting is always well-organized, if shockingly juxtaposed. i suppose it's a rather nice way to be, to be dada.
gallop you mad hobby horse! yeah yeah yeah.


resonance of compassion

dearest rabbit lady,
i wish i could be there. i am here, as much as i can be, and at least that much is real. as my resonance with you is also real sharp pain, ice pick through the heart. no. hearts. when his heart stopped, yours dropped. when yours dropped, mine bucked.

a great chain of arrhythmia.
if we listened to the track,
it would say 'tempo tragico'
in stark dark key of a minor.

the news- it was due at certain point, as we tasted it so sharply being so far away from the east coast. the small detail being that it would be devastating, regardless of the timing. i was hoping that it would have been extended just a little further longer, though i dont exactly know what the delay would have provided, except- perhaps just a little more time.

your loss is not just yours. but mine. ours. i am a friend of yours, it is a personal loss. as my friendship towards you is unlimited, your loss also resonates in real sense, physically and emotionally. space is only one determinant of my reality. with other variables- with friendship, humanism, time, etc., i am sheepishly claiming a very small part of your suffering, however with courage, trusting that you would let me have such personal bits, of you.

death may be terminal. or may not be. all i know is that i can only live through the present. i would never know all the details of your story, but it's not important as my aim of the moment is to love you, dear friend, as much as i can. because it is a human thing to do. the end may be undefined, but present can be defined. sharply and honestly. and i may say that my capacity of being a friend is all yours at this temporary suffering. i dare say temporary since all of us- i dont even exactly know who all i am exactly referring to but that is not even important, will do our very individual best to mend your heart. loss is a human condition. let us, the social animals, deal with it as we should.

i also have lost people in my life, not through human activities but through uncontrollable variables, such as death. and though powerless, one becomes immensely strong through the process. such loss is not an easy one to pass off, as one is dealing with real, progressing-forward time and the polar opposite of stalemate. gridlock of a life against the grains of time. brutal. passionate and true. and every time, it killed a bit of me. the empty holes, like the holes those termites leave on the tress sometimes, intricately connected, were filled only by the others over time. i was a lucky tree who live to see my life, as those little holes either became part of me, or was kindly filled and treated by others. generosity? may be. humanism? yes.

i wish i could offer you a cup of the market spice tea. i wish we could stay in the human bond, who cares about what time it is. the time is now and here.

i send you an embrace with sprinkles of blue tinted sadness. i suffer, or really, i chose to suffer because i am a friend of yours. all channels active, picking up every little bits i could, melting them into tears. to fuel the great engine called collective present. i hope you are asleep, if a bit tear stained. i will do the staying up part. 3am. 3rd night of returned urban insomniac. i can do that. i will be at the head of your bed, locked in gaze, so that i may do a few things that i could do as a friend. a close friend, if you would so generously let me.

im fairly fatigued and my eyes are blurry. tomorrow, another day of taking-mother-to-doctors kind of day. it wont even matter what i will be doing, as it will always change, never still. i just hope that i will get through the day with a great reservoir of love and hope, for you dear rabbit lady.

you, be well (in that particular monkey intonation and gestures, a bit sill, a bit too vulnerable, just enough reality) and perhaps take a small comfort in fact we, the small stars scattered across broad sky, still make a beautiful representations of myth, life, creativity and being a simple human. we are all connected. and we love you.

i love you,
in this difficult time,
as much as a friend can muster,


swatches of colours

"When [blue] sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human. When it rises towards white ... its appeal to men grows weaker and more distant." -- Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1911.

the palette around me have changed quite a bit since i came back to toronto for the brief stunt of a mere week. trying to cram everyone in, get ready to head out again, along with great friend visiting, i simply feel that i cannot afford to sleep- desperately i want some time off to let things sink and settle, at the moment, perhaps the best option is to continue, until sunday, when i would board the plane and head to the lowest point of the year (please, no negative connotation here), to solitude among strangers in big, fast metal tin can. perhaps the ambient noise will nullify much agitations (like the water molecules that wants to break free to be vapours). at the moment, occasional silence inbetween changes of people and space will have to do. a small clusters of heterotopias in my mind.

the colours of the rockie mountains in winter- i miss it quite painfully. changes are inevitable and yes, physical separations are no permanent bound to the mind, well-said by mr. guru. however, i am only a human and there are no real silence of colours in this town. not on the big concrete branch of 32nd floor downtown, looking into the big finance buildings and shopping centres. unlike the mountains that took up the dusk, wearing it slowly, as if letting the watercolour pigments to swim onto one another on the page, turning blue to black, here, it is always too bright. this small monkey is hanging onto the big concrete branch with a slight sense of suffocation. i love toronto, but not every bit of it. it would be impossible. so i am (hopefully temporarily) resonating with kandinsky. blue to black, grief that is natural, as one cannot help it- changes accentuate the differences, once again, heterotopia in yyz.

the sudden urges to explore colour came from a recent message in my inbox. simple mentioning of kandinsky and it sort of stuck on my mind: 'White is the colour that sounds like the silence as it suddenly becomes comprehensive'- much like blobs of colours echoing throughout jackson pollock's massive cosmic canvases. i remember watching the movie pollock and was absolutely stunned: 'throughout the time in which i am working on a canvas i can feel how i am beginning to love it, with that love which is born of slow comprehension' (joan miro). true, pollock did move like a mad man at times, a proper nutcase, fast and furious, possessed. however, like all things in balance, he knew how to contemplate. tabula rasa to universe. human mind.

along with miro, another visual artist i dearly love is marc chagall. with his fantastic figures swimming and intertwining right before your very own eyes. and the stories. his stories are always very human. hopeful, cheerful, sometimes melancholic, full of love in all cases. just look at the eyes of his characters. they are warm with affection and compassion. and the edges always melt into liquid state, swirling around, pulling your eyes and heartstrings. fantastic colours. he also said something i really hold dearly: 'colour is all. when colour is right, form is right. colour is everything, colour is vibration like music; everything is vibration.' no need to mention he gets extra koodos for linking two of my other interests, string theories and music. with colour, he creates such form and rhythm. for me, miro and chagall are always very closely related. if they were music, they would be whimsical, occasionally breathtakingly slow beautiful, other times even pointillistic, but always illustrative and inviting.

a brief mentioning of rothko and turner cannot be helped if we are talking colours. i do like classical and older forms of painting before these guys, but there's something about these 'newer' guys (though i do realize especially turner, is quite 'dated.' but bah, really- can beauty be dated? i disagree) who broke down the molds of traditional definitions of object/subjects and literary isomorphism, hence freeing the element of colour to be something so moving. when one stares at the gigantic rothko, it is usually two ways- one moves away in passing, or... if you are like me, you are stuck on it, circling around it like a puppy with a buried bone, trying to savour all aspects of chase and discoveries that resonates through the core of the mind. it's funny that turner was the one who said: 'there's a sketch at everyturn,' and that statement is what pops into my head whenever i am attracted to a rothko: 'i am not an abstrationist. im not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. i am interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on.'

with the brilliant and piercing neon colours around me 24/7, i am feeling the sharp fangs of 'missing'- what am i missing? well, to express it comprehensively, i might say it is the very human experience of my own, stark contrast to the colours i am surrounded by, if temporarily so. with two eyes open with intentions of collecting various puzzle pieces that i may carry further- whether it be from the objective world of yyz@17 of december, 2009 or from the sum of complex brownian motion in my head, it does not matter- as long as i can consciously collect them to build another heterotopia. in a way, perhaps that is the only possibility at the moment. immersed, permeated, saturated and taking it all it- pleasure, pain, melancholy, utter joy, past, present. i am part of the picture. if a bit blue tinted and turning slightly darker, it is also alright. it is just a sketch, one of many.

'...I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however – I think it applies to other painters I know – is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it.' (rothko)


'..und morgen früh ist alles zerflossen..'

short day full of movements, momentum,
while the sun barely shines with it pale near-winter-solstice light,
i am a lone fish weaving through
constellation connections of faraway thoughts and people,
icy clear stream of lights against black depthless vast sky.

like the lightest smallest snowflake outside,
i am hanging, moving,
as the wind takes me.

the grande pause, just after a big cadence,
a small stepping stone before a new movement's start,
murky water slowly settling down the finest mud,
i am learning to wait,
savouring every bits of my thoughts,
the whirlwind of love, wishes, wants,
of things that i suck on with dry mouth,
like real dark cacao.
smallest squares, staining not only the tongue,
but of the heart, bittersweet,
to the ends of my capillaries.

feeling each grain of such beauty against my mouth,
i am permeated by the stillness of the night,

in the midst of festive pub,
air saturated joie de vivre,
i take the first step, a winterreise-

...Bellt mich nur fort, ihr wachen Hunde,
Laßt mich nicht ruh'n in der Schlummerstunde!
Ich bin zu Ende mit allen Träumen.
Was will ich unter den Schläfern säumen?
(from lieder im dorfe, winterreise, schubert-muller)

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today i took my mom to the doctors appointments, just like she would have done many times before, the only difference being that i am now leading her in,to the world of curved corridors and endless chains of chairs. fortunately, instead of taking her twice to the hospital,they were able to rebook her later appointment for this morning,
so im happy to oblige!

just typical routine tests: bone density scan and mammogram. like a good immigrant child, i was happy to be there to make things easier. ive been bringing granny to appts while i was still living in town. just a bit easier as mom's steps are a bit lighter than granny's. it may seem as a nuisance- to follow someone around to translate may be a few minutes of the test while the test and related waiting could take hours and hours. but i cant say anything when i still remember the time i broke my left arm for the first time in canada and was sent to children's hospital. terms and words, garbled sounds, like bad radio connection. loud and useless, even imposing.

as a young teenager still in enormous pain (comminuted fracture-dislocation), i was absolutely terrified. the shoulder had to be reset but to do that, they needed to hold to my arm, which was broken in multiple pieces. dilemmas. i dont remember what they ended up doing, just memories of welling tears and a desperate wish for it to all end soon. what was meant as probably encouragement and kind words from the ER people turned into this enormous stressor that totally cracked me. i certainty wasnt openly crying when i arrived but by the quasi-closed curtained area of drafty ER, i bawled like a kicked puppy. yelp. help.

remembering that, even if it's a routine test, i would like to be there for mom and granny, or whoever really. no one needs additional pain from feeling lost, ignorant and consequently inferior. esp. if the situation can be fixed so easily by couple words, literally. at least these tests are bloody simple.

as mom went back and forth from change room to little labs, carrying her jacket, i couldnt help notice the simple fact that i am somehow taller than her. mom who lead me by the hands to the doctors, for vaccines and tummy aches, occasional colds and broken skins, who i had to look up and half-dash to keep up, was a small middle-aged asian lady, somewhat tired and worn from the years of hard labour, now slightly anxious about the test however smiling and nodding, as best as she could. oh mom.

she was not the glorious mother you see in the paintings of madonna and child. she is not the fashionable and trendy lady you see in the magazines with perfectly polished children. though i do love her dearly and would be hard pressed to be anything else but a child of her brood, objectively, she was another lady going through the annual health check-up. small, worn, hands being scratchy from all the dryness, eyes intensely focused on the technicians, listening to instruction hoping to not lose any words, any details. she was that little child in the hospital, half-lost and half-amazed. with sprinkle of slight shame that she needed the help to be there. but mom, really, i was there for only the technical translation. you did not need any other help. lemme give it to you, like a small child offering her mom a piece of orange, peeled with such enthusiasm that they are kinda squished.

she said frequently throughout the morning about her displeasure about me leaving prior to the holidays. with hint, a smear of sadness. ooh and a small dislike for my army flack jacket that has miraculously survived at least 17 years or abuse.

'that jacket is still good? amazing.'
'i know. you used to wash it every wk hoping it will fall apart, haha.'
'why do you leave now? even the ones who are faraway are returning..'
'well mom, that means someone had to go somewheres while someone stayed at some place. you can come or go, so inst. of staying for christmas, as i have done for 16-17 years, rather than have the show be dumbed down, i may as well then go, as im not coming to the eve mass!'

(mom, i already made plans and bought my ticket to get to europe for the holidays yes, and i am sorry i wont be there. not because anyone would miss my music, but because you wanted me to be there but i wont be. baby jesus can use some rest and silence, i swear!)

my mom- a small child was taken care by small child- an adult now. and like everything in time, things will always progress forward, and she, like the shadow that gets further from the light, will go far, far, far away, a bit thinner and a bit smaller with each day.

all i wanted to do was to hold her after the appts were over. good job mommy. you were awesome. let's go get hot chocolates before we board the car. but i couldnt do that.

i did however, successfully obtain chalky hot chocolates. for two small children, heads together.


ready for the oven. finally.

im literally starting to burn the last bits of banff life now. 45 hours, from some 5114 hours. 3.75hrs, my body will be hurled across the sky in a small tin can operated by westjet, then saturday at 2140@yyz local time, i will be literally at the end of the year, then from there, 184 hours till the next tin can ride over the big puddle. from that point, approx. 260 hours till the end of the epic year. (i did mention i do like to count things, if somewhat ocd-ish, sorry!)

i have this candle i bought couple weeks ago, complete splurge. a real lavender infused glass cup candle. and whenever ive been burning it, i was rather careful about not being frivolous (silly! the whole idea of scented candle in fully wired studio with more than enough lighting itself is already frivolous)... at times, i was able to smell the delicate scent wafting through the hallway, coming back from another studio from rehearsals and such, and instantaneously drop my shoulders and breath in deeper. and now, with really one more night to go (well really another hour as tomorrow evening will be run over by the concert and all the extra excitement), im burning it with no reservation. burn baby burn. let me inhale all the delicate particles of your summer glory- the beautiful, supple blue-purple lavenders of the field, harvested in the peak of the late summer, only to release yourself into the cold, icy air of banff mountain studio.

i took the pictures off the wall and it's bare. i took the monkey pictures off from my studio panel, as i am no longer accompanying anyone. as much as i complained about my position at times, i really do love it and i am not regretful but a bit blue to leave it. i returned most of the book back to the library. it's looking quite empty. very different from just last week- last week on thursday, i believe i was burning my brains in a second recording session by this point. papers everywhere, brain bits everywhere. completely lost and mad. now just 168 hours later, a calm after the mad storm. the only thing that is left is tomorrow's mozart kv. 448 for two pianos- me and the norwegian guru. it would be a whoot i bet.

who wouldve foreseen what would have happened this year? i know ive been ranting awful lot about how life goes and how grateful i am and so on, but i cant help but to think about these specific things as i am about to leave this epic year.

banff centre for arts with all its faults and shortcomings- whatever they may be, as it could never make everyone completely happy, have been nothing short of a great creative kitchen mixing bowl. add the basic ingredients- like water, butter, salt, flour, may be a bit of yeast and sugar, and then whatever you may find along the way- new people, new concepts, friends, adversities, difficulties, they all go into the bowl. during the time i am off, i am just like the dough resting and proofing, growing larger and larger by minutes. morphing. and as i am wrapping up here, i suppose i am leaving to enter the real world, the oven. and let see what kind of things the bowl have held, what kind of beautiful things everyone have brought into the mix, and see how much i have absorbed and how much i will grow further from now.

i cant express enough how sincerely happy i am that i had such a chance to be here this year. it's been anything but continuous roll of surprises, discoveries and generosity. each time i left, twice before, i knew i was coming back, so it was easy. but this residency, with most time and more centered self, along with great fellow residents, really have been the peak of the year i believe. i found inspiration, aspiration, compassion, affection, humour, trials and difficulties, all shades of greys and blues, and bursts of pure colours and magic. in music, in conversations, simple expression of gratitude.

i cant help but to already to think about the ways i would be back. what would i be doing? when and where? the foremost chance i would have would be the on way back from UK in march, perhaps flying directly to yyc and spend may be a week or so in banff, before returning to yyz for hopefully busy months of working. i could get some stuff ready to record, or start to put together some projects with some of my dear friends who will still be here in the spring. but really, if that doesnt work out, there will be plenty of chances. this is my home. some call it artistic home, but really, it is much larger than that. arts is only part of life in a sense- but a home is a continuation, a signature symbol of a living person. where do you live? who are you and where did you come from?

i may not have much luggages to put onboard on saturday. im a light traveller. it's a easy thing to do, especially if you know that there are so many riches you will be picking up and sharing all the time continuously, on and off the road. there's the real things, intangible, offered and not bought, found and appreciated, incorporated and permeated. like the candle scent that escapes sneakily through the big steel door and fill the hallway without any sign of letting me know!

my heart and head is more than full, there are things put on top of things, just make the ends meet, just make it so that i may be able to carry it all with me. but at the moment, i cant help it but to feel a slight blue tint, i love this place. i love what this place means to me. i love what i have found and who i came to love. call it an end of the year nostalgia or whatever. call it romantic. pansy. whatever. blame it on the carols. point fingers at the small white lights of the overly decorated christmas trees. the truth is that i am in love. with banff. with life. with my people. far and close. like the bread dough that has been waiting patiently, incorporating all strange and unexpected bits. breathing and growing slowly but surely.


price of not taking time seriously: grave

i live in the time where things can be repeated, spliced and put together, as if the time itself can be managed as a controllable unit. there are much values put into editing processes and re-configuration, as much money and time invested in as well. the idea of performance for instance, is quite a different thing from a recording project. there are the usual expectations for retakes, edits, crossfades, basically a la frankenstein process once you step into the studio. twick till it's just right. then do takes until youve covered it all. then we go back and try to sew together pieces of time and events. and miraculously, it works. flawless record of flawed reality, amazing.

well, sometimes, one does not get to enjoy this particular luxury of emancipation from the tyranny of time in a studio session. call it whatever- schedule conflicts, busy places, not enough resources, lack of preparation or perhaps even just lack of ability. i think i should be rather honest and acknowledge that in most of my cases, it's either lack of ability or preparation. if i were to treat each takes so seriously from the initial point, there would be less need and less expectations for re-takes and edits. but once gotten used to, it is very hard to get back to the reality that sometimes, once things have taken place, that is all. you dont get to do a retake. stop pouting. that's what happens when you count on time being an endless resource.

how foolish of me.

and once time is 'against' you (well time really isnt against anyone. it goes and does what it needs to do, it may not even acknowledge that i exist! i know im not so special. im one of the many lives passing through the present right now. does not really matter in objective scheme at ALL), all the sudden the human mind is capable of sabotaging self with all kinds of self-erected adversities. self-criticism, self-doubts, self, self self. so absorbed by the ego's tantrum, i forget to listen to the entire world, but only of self. then things usually turn worse and worse. and so the only retake i could do, i play even worse. and then comes the nice voice on the speaker: thanks guys, but that's the all the time we have.

*shame regrets anger apology loath guilt humiliation horror embarrassment

so there. good job monkey.
epic fail today.
i felt rather badly about butchering.
i just successfully wasted many peoples time, once again.
i dont deserve to take these times out of these people.
perhaps i really should go see about getting an office job.


sonic fragments in the ditches of cold winter banff evening

hello world. we are in the listening room of the banff centre with the expensive, complicated, fancy, algorithm-weighted pre-amps, monitors, speakers, even a crazy room calibrating machine that looks like something straight out from the dr. who show. apparently it shoots out huge noise (really, think black/white salt-pepper old vacuum tube tv after the stations has gone to sleep, as sound...), then receives it back into the monitor, into mad calculation to recalibrate the room... into.. a proper. space. amazing.

noisy. sounds like shooting shrapnels out to the room space and see how they fall.

with the expansive soundscape and expensive ludwig mies van der rohe barcelona chair, 1928 (though it's missing its accomplice, the foot rest! that would add another thousand bucks no problem. oh how i love bauhaus furniture- and how ridiculously expensive they get!), we the three stooges- mr. bearcub, senior audio monkey and piano monkey (who has just been moved out of her spot by.. well, sheer will and physical displacement. well, it's only 30cm to the left from the optimal listening spot. i suppose i will live) are having a rare moment of... listening for the sake of listening.

it is a funny process, listening. what's even funnier is the process of recording. to capture a moment. a time. a progress. a process. trying to see the essential points of the present and... click, boom and a ticking clock, it's all there. in the record. the only catch would be that the record can only be as honest as the ability and the capability of the capturer, and then by the listener. it's almost like going hunting isnt it? to capture. guess what time it is... it's 'on' time! hooray. go. play. catch. fetch. back. and see.. if it has survived the cage and the transportation.

as a musician, one plays much of this game. trying to capture. in classical music, it's the bizarre process of trying to recapture of the past, something that we have not experienced directly, or probably known directly, through the medium that is at least a second degree removed from its real existence (as music is a sonic event in real time and score, obviously, is a plastic medium that is not time-sensitive idiom, nevermind the fact that is it VISUAL and INTELLECTUAL. it is kind of funny to think about that. we learn music, which is supposed to be AURAL and EMOTIONAL from VISUAL and INTELLECTUAL medium. hmm. something tells me that is a highly inefficient process of a kind. oh well. too bad for now).

then comes all kinds of questions, problems, arguments, anger, frustrations, often points of martyrdom, bloodbath, fistfights. to do historical performance? authentic performance? wait, what is authentic? who knows what? modern instrument? what modernism? arent we the children of post-modernism? wait, did we leave existentialism behind? save that child as well! what about personal interpretation? what is interpretation? if it is personal, is it good enough to exist? well, if it isnt good enough, how do we get rid of it? but what if we also need bad bits? wait wait wait why do we listen to music at all? why does one still need to play with all these performances being available?

i have no clue.

the biggest thing would be.. well- why not? every human life is a form of some sort of cognitive repetition from the group (we ARE herd animals therefore). the absolute value of arts as an idea is well- a load of bullcrap and it does not work. by recognizing its existence, we already are interacting with it, therefore it is no longer.. absolute! ooh watch out, now the almighty ARTS has fallen.. flat. oops. sorry.

therefore, this innate need to express and to transfer, and wait for the cognitive reception and feed back is the essential form of human life. then it becomes such a simple thing to understand do this thing called practice. and to do music. as of to break breads with others. to talk. to have human touch. to be more than just breathing organisms, the spender of the carbon an oxygen. so as trivial as it may seem to talk of the 'finer' 'professional' interest in recording 'techniques' and 'interpretations,' it isnt trivial at all! it's just natural discourse of life, as much as- well, need of shared water source.

so here we are, sitting in the complicated listening room, armed with BMW 802-Ds and some of the best performances of the existing music (or we like to think at least), talking the small differences of the low and high resonances, being the proper humans we could be, dicing and splitting meniscus differences in the wee hours of the evening in -30'c and i cannot think of more natural however civilized way to exist.

hooray. go technology. go arts. go team. go linked thoughts and enthusiasm. circles. overlapping. the days of venn diagram.
i love my buddies. we havent killed one another discussing aesthetics either. victory.


last sunday in banff 2009

it has been countless chains of counting recently. the end of the year crunch. things wrapping up, things starting, things that are about to start and things that are progressing. and this is the last sunday in banff residency 2009 and i am sitting in my favorite cafe, communitea in canmore, drinking my favorite black tea (it's called market spice tea and i have been mail ordering it all the way from toronto during the spring and summer. like a proper addict, i am very glad that i have acquired some...)

and yes, this is it. the winter has came and you can feel that from the air- much sharper and clear. it's going to drop down to -25 'c tomorrow morning, as confirmed by the senior audio monkey. brr. cold. cutting. lovely. the time when you can really feel the warmth of another person near by, the warmth that can be felt from the proximity. in the midst of the still air, occasionally broken by the razor-sharp edged wind. and the flakes of frozen water, all in different formations and shapes, floating, flying, melting, being born, all in the thin air.

the morning lights have been spectacular, especially this morning. all bright and i couldnt wake up for some reason, but when i did open my eyes, it was all golden. but of pale gold, not the mature amber brown tinted gold of the late autumn, but of the still-posed hibernation gold. pause. a grande pause.

i have came to this tea shop so many times this year, almost every sunday last term with different musicians and different concerts. and there always have been this excitement of escape- out, to somewheres different. the banff ctr is great, but it does get super saturated and it's always nice to be able to walk away from it, just to return with proper appreciation for the beauty it holds. mostly, people.

this market spice tea is black-tea based, infused with sweet citrus,cinnamon and cloves. it's the kind of tea that needs time to steep, longer than usual, i say no shorter than 5 minutes. a full five minutes. it's a quite a bit of time to wait for a cup of tea, you may think. but the magic does take place after five minutes. it becomes incredibly fruity, sweet and mellow. dark as the deepest and oldest sequoia tree barks. thick, real. and yes, when you have tasted it when it is properly steeped, there is no way to go back and do it any other way!! and that happens only if you wait that crucial five-plus minutes. *mr bookbomber, i got you some stash as well...

and in a sense, im really learning to appreciate the slowness of life. the spaces are all the sudden much more predominant, alive and enjoyable. beautiful. and i hope to take this with me- the slow progression of time. js's blessing. mr. bearcub's encouragement. mr. banffmagic's cheering. the horselady's affections. mr. bookbomber's occasional inquiries of rhetorical sorts. mr. salamander's fragments in the window. even the serious boss' approval. and all the human relationships with everyone around me- bert the piano technician who i love dearly, lovely julie who is my moral and lovely support, and the list goes on and on...

so as i sip this tea, and hopefully take a tin with me before it's all gone to others ( ! ), i will let the numbness of cloves permeate my senses, through my nose, on the top of my tongue and even through the warmness of the hands as i hold onto my dear cub- i am always going to be able to return back to this pause of the time- to this moment in my life, and be immersed in the redness of the tea. the redness that is brewed from all the love and humanistic aspects of my life. the bits that transcends over the biological needs of living. because this tea is no longer just a cup of tea. it's a moment in my life. that took at least five minutes to steep.

proper, isnt it nice?