lay your sleeping head, my love: auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's sensual ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreadful cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but not from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of sweetness show
Eye and knocking heart may bless.
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.

*i was thinking about this particular poem as spring rain, cold and teary keeps coming down in the gentle yet still barren field of high peak. my eyes are red and my mind is worn. and i know spring is just around the corner. i know. the lower the sky is now, in fog and mist, it will get higher and higher, endless blue magic. with the new baa lambs, in pairs, barely able to walk really, hopping around in that awkward beautiful manner of all things young, pure and hopeful. no spring is ever the same. similar yet always new. with a hidden wishes and perhaps even more unspoken things- myriads of things, perhaps not even well-known to myself yet, i will let the souls and bodies have no boundaries. let no tears of today outweigh the feathers of wings of tomorrow. even in sadness. just slight one.


rainy murmur

everything is hanging in bare thread it feels, that i cannot make anyone truly happy nor keep my own self happy. at this point im hoping to stay inoffensive, cause less trouble and that really isnt adding much to the world is it? it seems as if im committed to waste my life in sense of unfulfilled hope or continuous lament and it is also surprising to me: how did i get here?

it's another day of gentle spring rain here. with taste of the winter still lingering over, as the low chimneys of the old houses are breathing out the warm wet humid clouds from their hot innards, breathing, consuming, bearing the winter out, through and through, season after season. in the midst of grey and brown of stones, aged in silence and stories of generations and generations, there are hint of new greens shooting up, ever so hopefully, along the cracks of the stone walls, on the tree barks, on the tips of the fragile, once dead branches.

one of the very first signs of spring, or shall i say glimpse of spring (for now) were the birds. outside. during the uk snowstorm days, it was eerie quiet here, except for the regular blast of the passing trains, which was quite sparse compare to the usual schedule, thanks to the harsh condition that made the uk transport system to fall on its knees. we all wondered of their fate- birds need to eat about a quarter of their weight in average. would they able to survive?

and then when it all started to thaw, the first thing i heard was the birds. one day, through the kitchen window, through mellow bardic murmur of brad mehldau, the small life-bearing sounds knocked quietly on my ears. then they came, one spot at a time. floating through the vast open sky over the rolling hills. and they are still here today, while the each final points of the fractal branches bear the cold drops of the early spring rain. occasionally breaking the monotony of the opaque clouds.

things are moving with accordance to the flow of nature once again, gentle and almost unperceptive to impatient eyes. in couple weeks, this place will be a completely a new place, with all the greens, bursting technicolour flowers and all sorts of insects and animals around. and i will be back in the old hometown to do some odd things around. i have not touched music in a long while and i have no desire to at the moment. i am not missing the mountains, but am left somewhat empty and open. barren open field, like winter ground. with all impressive sounding degrees and cv, here i am once again, lost in my own head, while the world outside is slowly starting to dance the rhythm of the spring.

a best friend got into an auto accident today. got T-ed on the intersection by north american equivalent of left turn. the turning truck just did not look at all. a minor damage and no one hurt. driving experience of over 30 years and now one. i am relieved that there was no lasting damage. cars are machines. they can be fixed or at least with some difficulty, be replaced. what a day to go through minor trauma. drizzling rain. continuous. but it was fortunate that i was able to at least to make a cup of tea. builder's tea: black, hot with sugar and milk. comforting and soothing. for small minor upsets from the world. im having one at the moment. that probably will be my one good deed for the entire day. sigh.

personal plans are failing, i am not able to make anyone particularly happy at the moment and i feel as if im just a burden to the world. the world would be fine without me in a sense that the trees will blossom and the soil will smell green as farmers get ready for another cycle of life. and my own existence seems so far from the rest of it, literally connected by bare threads. as rain knocks down on the window ever so gently, i am wondering how did i got here. blue-gossamer covered greetings to you all, light and pale enough to send in the smallest movement of air, through the misty rain. from a lost winter wanderer.


crossing over

finally i went to see avatar 3D today. first time we went, it was sold out, literally about 5 people before our turn to get the bloody tickets. today, we thought the afternoon time should work great- well, it took them about 20 min to figure their damned system, so once again, it took a while. i was going to seriously laugh it was to be cancelled. but no. it did roll and for 3 hours i was deeply touched.

one may wonder, what is so different? the story board is quite simple- the polarized good-evil, the inferences made to the idea of conquests, vietnam references, cross-race love story, etc. nothing very new, just very well weaved. in fact the stark contrast between the navi's and humans were almost comical.

but as all exaggerated stories do, there was much room, the gaps in between, for the true feelings to mix in. wider the range is, the more one is able to pour one's own experiences into it. simple CGI move becoming a work of art. the cusp point of mixing the two separate and unrelated worlds.

crossing two different worlds in two different bodies, where one world, the 'real' world is slowly overtaken by the beauty of the 'unreal' or even 'foreign' world, up to the point of absolute saturation where there is nothing more desired than to become part of the new found world, hence, making it a reality. sadly, it happens so rarely- impossible really, for the general public, and thats what makes it a such a great drama. a story. a dream. a hope.

but it is not so far from the world as we have known it so far is it?

i feel as if i could draw a parallel to the world we dreamed and lived, as one cannot help but to live many fractured, or put somewhat nicely, multifaceted life, as context and time constantly moves on. teterotopias. and there are moments in the past, whichever the 'real' or 'unreal' world one seeks in desperation. especially the deeper and more concentrated one's particular experience may be, it becomes more detached from the daily, objective life.

then comes this feeling- keeping the past, or 'fantasy' alive, keep feeding it, nurturing it, like secret garden. not a great yearning to go back to it necessarily,
but to keep that vitality alive.
and the fact what we have lived are still extended through the fibres of daily life, weaved and intertwined between peoples, places, stories, laughter and tears.

yesterday in stark contrast, i felt a bit suicidal *ahahaha, a feeling that has been quite far, but never completely gone. it manifested in the foggy damp rainy hillside of derbyshire, by time-eaten castle ruin. i havent touched the piano in ages. i feel a bit like those dry leaves on winter annuals (or what's left of them) quite often. and because i was desperate and broken, the world around me, the real world, was turning into a fantasy place where there was no room for me to live in. all places filled and monkey, left, unwanted and somewhat dismissed, because despising would take effort.

and today, this simple fairytale have stained the grey with bright bits of blue. once again, much like other grey-blue combinations in life i love so much, it lifted a bit of dampness out. such bright story. brilliantly done. simple, fantastic and... simply.. not real.

is it?

sending all of you little seedlings of warmest thoughts, at the point of late winter, at its last peak of force, from uk.


where to?

it's been awhile since i wrote anything on this space. it's probably because i had no space in my head to begin with, no room to really let things permeate and grow. the verdicts from the dementors were in last week as i have visited the school during the preview day, where you go and do the meet-and-greet kind of things. during lunch we were served some lunch and the most interesting thing of the day was this very peculiar white fried thing. i still cant tell whether it was supposed to be:
a. chicken fingers
b. fish finger
c. fried cheese

it is not a good situation!

i have made the 'cut' however i didnt really make the cut as i simply do not have 15,000 pounds for the tuition alone. there's always this difficulty as an international student. i understand the idea that the local or domestic students have already contributed through their heritage- their parents, grandparents and such, through the tax system that made the institution and the history/culture of a place a possibility. however, to slam that amount of money on a foreign student makes it very difficult for me, a foreign student, to consider the school.

it is an interesting situation, this credit burst. everywhere in the world, the educational institutions and trusts are suffering from this 'low' interests. as some benefits from having low prime rate, especially for the home buyers and long-term borrowers and such, there is absolutely no money left for any charity of scholarship as the usual policy of the trusts only involves the interests accumulated from the capital itself. it's like having your tax lowered then being shocked when the general governmental services are reduced!

it is not very often that i had to actually organize and apply an abstract goal into a plan and execute. and then it is even more rare that such plan does fail. the objective in this case was trying to find a foothold in europe, in england, by enrolling into a musical institution for a year diploma program and hopefully find a public funding to make it happen- or entry scholarship, etc. and as last week, it seems that it's near impossible.

im reaching for the star. and i have fallen off the ladder. it is not entirely bad. who knows? i may have reached the star and realized that it's burning at thousands celsius and die with terrible burn. seriously.

now what is left? i have no idea. i am to head back to toronto in march regardless of what would have happened here, so that's all nice and fine. i will have work and i will be where i am comfortable and familiar. i am still filling out forms and contacting people, trying to see what may be a possible tangent option now, but let's be realistic, it's a real long shot *the hope part that is, from where i am at this point.

but then i wasnt really applying to school because i wanted the education was i- i was applying because i wanted to be able to live and work, to find a tangible way to eventually qualify for a work visa in EU. so going to school seemed rather convenient way to do it. except. it did not work out so far and it seems that it wont happen, not this time. so back to the drawing board. but perhaps it is only fair, serendipitously, as i believe whoever had qualify for the little gold that is left in the school, may really wanted and needed the education. for what it stands for, not for what it will allow you to do- as i was hoping.

so it's been much time in solitude, trying to let things settle in my brain, letting thing to sink down so that i may be able to see more clearly once again, where i need to be and where i am headed. everyone has been telling me that things will work out as it should. may be they are right. but what does that mean? what if i dont like the end result? what if i wanted things to be different? should i be struggling? would i be better off to be stubborn and be 'focused' on my personal goals and take an enormous loan to go to school? ( will never do this anyways, no worries) school is school, i wasnt even really interested in the schooling itself but of its context- meeting people and working, get to be in a new place with friends, etc etc., and i couldve brought something to the new surrounding (whether good or bad, doesnt really matter) but if i were always letting the wave take me where it wants to, am i being a coward? a lazy bum? futile fatalist? a fool? i have no clue.

so here i am, once again, in a flux. interestingly enough, last year this time, i was also in a flux, going from non-musician to becoming a musician once again. as much as i like to say that i like challenges, when there are too many of open options, ie. nothing is finalized, it also becomes incredibly stressful at times. im only a monkey. i am happy being at the piano fiddling something, that's just how it is. sometimes i am not so quaint or philosophical. i want to be simple and i am only simple.

days are full of things such as long bath, optional practices (whatever i want! horray), propositions of chamber music, a few moments with friends (tonight it was steak and kidney suet pudding. it is very english and since i dont dig kidney i did fish and chips. i. love. chips.), occasional musical musings and outings to manchester (including futile trip once to catch avatar, only to find out it sold out while we were in line, and a big huge loud noisy concert of mahler 1. look, it's been awhile ive been to a 'loud' concert. and it was literally LOUD), time to cook real food for people around me, being warm, once in awhile, a roam around the wet english country. it is beautiful dont get me wrong.

at the same time, i cant help but to wonder:
now what?
where do i go?
the departed ship is now lost. i hope that wonky wobbly shit of a compass is working, to find my next harbour. a ship will always find a harbour, as long as it is afloat and it is moving. courage, monkey. and courage and big heart to everyone. much love. sorry ive been quiet. i know a few have been worried. but really, sometimes no news is.. well, no news. but you are all very dear to me, and that is TRUE.


winterreise vignettes

post-audition bum monkey have been wandering for no good reason at all in the small town of chinley- and is experiencing entirely different winter than a year ago. instead of big rocky mountains, i am surrounded with gentlest hills. though completely a different place, with even a different clock running, there is that winter scent- icy, clear, hint of chimney smoke. it's a luxury and i am saturated with snow and grey-blues. in such pale palette, i think of various people and cant be helped but be really warmed by their vibrant presences. much grace and thanks for you all.

with no one watching, the birds are quiet,
perched on branches, holding onto every minute,
with their wiry claws, they await,
for the spring to return, as surely,
as much as cutting the northern wind is,
it must turn around and come back to south.

once straight to the sky, the green buds are now
curled with whimsical history of winter,
slightly irregular and brittle,
they are not the same, alas,
however displaying the advantage of-
living and existing,
simply through changing time.
eternal yet always renewed.

i wonder when the birds will be back
to this empty nest,
quietly awaiting for their return,
to fill the void with excitement of-
eggs, hatchlings,
noise, flutter, life.
it's not really void then is it-
it's simply waiting.

as this empty school ground will be once more full
with sharp, bright children's laughter and tears,
playground drama,
as us, adults, will also go through another round of
laughter and tears.
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popped balloon@MAN

today i was to set out to geneva to see dear peeps. planned a bit ago, i thought it would be a perfect timing to start out the year, post-audition, to take an advantage of u.k. location. and from the very first mention of it, the plan took a shape quite rapidly and all the sudden, i was en route to the land of fondue, swiss-army knives and ridiculously good chocolates (though the belgians also do justice to cacao products, yes). ah well, forget it, it could have been land of- ooh i dont know, shoes-leather-tanning industry, but i would have gone happily anyways because i wanted to be with people. who, all the sudden, seemed a lot closer.

plane tickets were well-priced. and i got my papers in order. all i had to was show up at the terminal, as usual dull air travel protocol. after a quite a fizzy drive to the airport and the lovely security checks (it was no pain at all! im getting too good at packing), there i was, on the hub, just waiting for the gate number.

then came half hour delay notice. oh fine then.
i broke down and bought a bottle of water.

then another notice of delay of two hours.
i went to the duty free and bought a rather nice jar of strawberry preserve from fortnum & mason. funny, i used to sell these posh jars of mashed fruits back in toronto, when i was working at the ridiculous high end kitchen store. haha. as a frugal traveler *by necessity, i couldnt really splurge and bring two big bottles of grand cru, but a nice jar of jam would be rather fitting for overgrown musical children who refuse to conform. what could be nicer than a good piece of toast, slab of butter and a heaping spoon of sweet jam *i would add a sprinkle of salt as well- along good conversations and simple tea?

then killing more time, i picked up a real trashy paper- the sunday mail it is called. a proper tabloid paper. mr. salamander was mentioning that they used to wrap chips with these news papers. i thought it was miraculous that chips stayed in the paper. considering the contents!!

by this point, i was noticing familiar faces staring at the same point on the 'departure' screen- we were hoping to head to geneva. old. young. busy. bum. short. tall. sweet. savory. whatever. each with stories and expectations. no doubt a few with sad stories, as a few would have been full of happiness and fizzy excitement, like monkey here, being completely foolish, full of hope and heaps of joy.

and then the red strip came across the screen:
flight to geneva cancelled.
the O.N.L.Y.F.L.I.G.H.T.C.A.N.C.E.L.L.E.D.
in this entire afternoon/evening.

we all stared at the screen like a puppy who just dropped his favorite toy to the water, knowing that there is no way that he can retrieve it. it's gone! and it is not replaceable! i must looked real pathetic. okay, i just dropped a tear and my nose was red and a bit soggy.

there was an old man, with yorkshire cap (i just learned this term. in north america, we just call it poorboy or newspaper boy cap, the ones i wear all the time) and a old-fashioned square glasses. i was not aware of his presence in particular until his hand appeared across my eyes: holding a fresh sheet of kleenex.

mumbling some sorts of thanks, monkey took it and blew some snot. some tear. some disappointment.

lots of disappointment.

and as she was trying to refocus her contact lenses after rubbing it off her face, she saw now the familiar hand, holding a piece of werther's original candy. warm light brown, buttery candy in crinkle yellow cellophane wrapping. and when i turned my eyes, he held another one, one for monkey and one for himself.

i took it. unwrapped and ate it.

mustve been a funny scene. two strangers. one with flaming red hair and a yorkshire cap. one with greying, bare hair and a yorkshire cap. staring at the long strip of blue screen of departure information with one red stripe- geneva: cancelled. in milieu of people running frantically to the gate 51, where 'further info' would be released. two puppies with their tails down. the younger one with a faintly red nose and soggy cheeks.

once home, tried to rebook the flight but now the date does not work. so it's put onto 'depressing' pile for now. eventually it's develop into excitement for the next trip i hope. what are the chances that the next plan will be foiled? this is my first ever really cancelled flight. i was due i think. just. really. unfortunate. but is there any great time to have your flight cancalled? nah. and next one on schedule is city of light. on a bus journey. it'll be an epic *trying very hard not to be so pissed off.

love to you all who are dear to me. i would love to be there with all of you. i like where i am but i cant help to think it wouldve been nice to laugh about the kind offering of old school butter candy, slathering great heaping spoonful of jam onto a buttered toast.


mein fuhrer

i told you that it is the hitler cat.
not a hitler cat. THE hitler cat.
i dare you to piss it off and goering will be on your ass.

new post will be up soon... love to you all! :)
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crosby beach

ONE’S-SELF I sing—
a simple, separate Person;
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-masse.

Of Physiology from top to toe I sing;
Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone, is worthy for the muse—I say the
Form complete is worthier far;
The Female equally with the male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power,
Cheerful—for freest action form’d, under the laws divine,
The Modern Man I sing.
(walt whitman)

today i went to the sea with mr. salamander with sole intention of going to see the sea. crosby beach holds 100 man figurines, each weighing 650kg. will write more about it, but at the moment, of life immense, the modern man i sing. of life immense, the humanistic elements of my- and our lives, i sing. love to you all.


dementors seen in muggle world ( ! )

it is 1540 greenwich mean time on 07.01.10, meaning audition day is over. lots of commotion during the day including panel member switches, last minute singers, train breaking down everywhere thanks to the cold spell, then car mishaps and all sorts of little unexpected mishaps. the original plan of heading to crosby beach after the audition did not materialize as sunset begins at 1600 and we would have not made it on time. and the auditions were both rather subpar and i am very sure unless i could find an employment of some sorts, i am on a short loan in europe and will be heading back to north america by springtime.

why such a negativity, monkey? well, it's not a negativity. it's really an objective point of view. i totally got sacked in my audition. i prepped as much as i would like to (not as much as i could have, true) and set off early enough to deal with the logistics etc. kindly mr. salamander was being a big help during the whole process. including being my transport/sonata partner/moral support. neighbours lending great big hand by granting access to a piano and hilarious hitler cat company. supports from friends and mentors poured in steady stream. and with year of banff so fresh in my mind, i was perhaps being so naive to think the audition would be alright.

there are many great reasons why an audition does not go well. i can blame the instrument (which was really bright and loud. i thought it sound louder than a jet engine- sharp edged, biting through my ears literally), the confusion of the school (they wanted to delay, reschedule, told to wait, then wanted to proceed as planned with a new member on the panel who has no idea who i am), but not as a blame however of an observation, i think it was me.

there is no one to blame. there is no blame. i cant possibly imagine that everything i do go well? that would be delusional. so some bad things after years of great rolls. okay. and going back is not exactly a dead end perspective. it's not like i will be hanged to death. and i do come from a nice place and i still have loads of friends. i have not lost anything, as i have not gained anything as of yet today.

the difficulty was the coldness of the panel. my panel consisted of two dementors from harry potter world. sucking the life out of the day. business. literally. i walked into the room and felt a great wall of- solid concrete. i would have preferred to play to a screen i think. at least across the screen one has no idea what is going on- but with the two college profs with lots of papers and pens, scribbling endlessly and staring with god-knows-what expression. all i felt is that it is rather soul sucking expression of a sort. indifference or perhaps intimidation. not a drop of humanity. with that feeling of magnification and criticism, i just shrunk, like a candy wrapper in fire. to nothing. seriously, a screened room wouldve been better.

i dont exactly know where my mind was. my brains was. i knew where my heart was- it ran out the door and said: i dont want to be here. i am not going to be. this is hostile. then one physically solidify- rigid, rigor mortis. i couldnt play anything with any sorts of fluidity. spitting out chunks of things, like water tortured prisoner, choking and vomiting water mixed with sweat and blood. eyes dilated into empty void. it was no longer an intimidation but a post-death.

then came questions: what do you want to improve? what did you think of your playing today?

i know better than to be completely honest. but at rigor mortis, i suppose one does not have ones head together yes? i blurped:

that's a naive or very complex question. i am not sure what direction of answer you were looking for, but what i would like to develop is the ability to be what i am under any given circumstance. wishing to play better does not mean much to me. one can always acquire skills if there is ability and will, efforts, guidance and time. but what good would that be if it can only manifest under certain circumstances? for one year program, it would be impossible for me to state truthfully- as i believe acquisition of skills is not something you could do for me. you cannot make me a better player. what you could do is provide me a place, a context and a guidance so that i could become what i could become: my own self.

you dont expect that you could make me better in a year purely by your presence in my life?

ooh wrong answer monkey. and the rest of smaller questions were about the same. and since i totally burned the first question, i decided to lift the self-imposed censorship: who care really. they have all the correct answers in the book and they have more than enough people who will skillfully pick the right answers. and i bet they played better as well.

let it go.

an audition room is also a spaceship journey, if short. everything about is artificial. this particular one being really stiff and formal, business boardroom-like. no room for a humanity. i understand it's an audition. not just for me, but for many who are applying. all have their reasons, none better than others, just different. and perhaps this is not the place i need to be. may be i have grown too big to sit on the little chairs and behave well. i have been un-schooled. the year of nurturing and care, the kind of care that lets ivy vines to grow up, down, sideways, wherever it could grab and prosper, covering a building with a nice layer of green life. it is too late to become a nicely manicured bonsai tree.

i cannot help but to think of banff, as of anti-audition experience. even with the unknowns, it has always been open and friendly. human. well, many may argue that such humanity is not a necessity for music. well, it may not be. even concentration camps and gulag had their musical moments, true. but this cold icy business conduct, i dont really care if it is necessary. music does not need to be a business. and if it is, let me go be a business monkey. at least i will be earning some income or something.

'okay, thanks for coming in, we'll be in touch.'

the second audition was not much different. so i am safe to assume that i totally bombed it. making the cut is not good enough for me, i needed the support from the school- financial scholarships. with subpar playing and unfit interview questions, i think i am well back on the road to return to north america. but that isnt so bad i suppose. there are no things lost as i have not gained anything yet. counting the chickens that have not hatched yet, that's a fool's delusion. i do not need to be more foolish than i already am.

supposedly people cannot help but to tell me: wait and see, you never know. well, surely i will wait because i cannot stop the progression of time even if i would like to. and then slowly think about alternative routes. who knows, if i could find an employment (it did snow 3 days straight here in england and froze all trains and roads right? anything is possible) then may be europe still may be an option. but yyz is not a bad place. wherever i am in the world, it's a fine place.

i just have to remember my wealth, the pitiful amount of wealth from the objective point of view, is still all mine. because they are intangible. some will be selected for next fall semester. i am not going to be one of them, i believe. but i still can be rich, if i dont strip the meanings from my own life.

thanks to all (special shout goes to mr. salamander) and a greeting from semi-crushed monkey on wintry british afternoon.


sightly or slightly uneasy?

so tomorrow is the day of audition for royal northern college of music. in about twelve hours, it will be all done and over with, and with absolutely no self-prediction, it will lead to the next bits of whatever-may-come.

about a year ago, i would have never thought that i would be doing a cold audition in uk, never mind being re-inspired by music. after a very exhilarating year which includes a bit of preparation for this particular occasion, i cant help but to feel a little damp about the whole situation. slightly apprehensive. disconcerting. inciting.

what does it mean to 'apprehend?'
well, it's two words put together: ad (-to) + prehendere (seize)
'to seize (the mind)' and meanwhile the french took it with a grain of hope (modern french 'apprehendre'(to learn, to be informed about), the english took it with a bit of bite (to seize- legally; to arrest) in 15th century.

'disconcert' is even better:
dis (the opposite of) + concerter (to bring together),
'concertare' came from:
com (with) + certare (to contend, strive)

in (on) + citare (to move, to excite)
therefore, 'to put into rapid motion, encourage, stimulate.'
now that is a bit more positive. haha.

you may wonder why is monkey soggy with such words? well. im not a teeenager anymore. i have no rooted place. im always passing by one place to another, never staying in a place longer than three months maximum. i am a musician without an instrument of my own. i am the master of none yet bounded by none. free and yet somehow often wishes that i was tightly weaved with a physical state of being- a place, a role, a relation, whatever it may be. but this wunderlust vagabond thing always gets in the way. at several points, i thought i have found the anchor of this ship. a port! finally. and then after awhile, the ship itself yearns for the sea. so heads out the little dinky boat, with a hopeful promise of departed ships- of the past and lot more to come.

i am not worried about my playing tomorrow in a weird sense that the best time to practice was about two weeks ago. it really isnt going to be much better now or get much worse. unless i sabotage self somehow. and i have no interest in misrepresenting self or wasting an opportunity. but it's also a monkey's paw isnt it. what i wish may come, but just with a slight different expression or outcome. however it goes, it will go.

i am merely wondering. about what is to come. whatever come would be fine, as there are very little one could do to turn the wave of things. i am responsible for my actions, yes, but i do also realize that my actions are only part of a larger equation, that incorporates millions of other decisions, made by countless people, which manifests in a very particular manner at a given time point.

sometimes i am able to bask in the ebbs and tides of the worlds unknown, gently stroked by the in and out of the larger things. and as necessary opposite, sometimes i cannot break the tension. and today, i am heading to basket, with mind at slightly unease, however grateful. let the time and event pass. i have been fortunate to be able to become 'i' at this point. it's not for my own self- the collective lives of all made it a present, not a mere hope. i am no longer in control of this particular event. my time and place have been set since the fall 2009. i have chosen to take the audition for whatever the reasons may be, but the reasons themselves do not really matter as far as the results are concerned. initiation is necessary but completion often leads oneself into a surprising new place. or a familiar predicament. where would i go? i will go where im asked to go i suppose.

hopefully with bit of agility to balance self once again in the moving wave, but without tenacity death grip stemming from self-desire, i will be able to reflect in a short while. after the audition we are heading off to see crosby beach. i have not seen the sea in last four-five years, if i am remembering correctly. i think it will make a stunning impact. as im soft and malleable once again. soggy.

a small boat off the shore once again. see you everyone soon. pray for the good wind to pick me up and send me to a wonderland. i wont sink in despair. i have received too much love to sink. will write upon arrival. or during course. roger.


meyer lemon snow

the hills around monkey home 01-03, 2010 is covered with generous amount of snow. though i was told apologetically that uk does not get much snow- no, nothing like canada, they say, this is quite a bit. it came. over. the night. blanket. perhaps about 20cm. schools and government offices are closed. grind to halt. it's the wet, compacting snow. huge flakes, heavy ones that falls right through, no weaving in and out about.

with all those grey and white around, however, i have received a pale yellow, meyer-lemon- wrapped- in- white- tissue- paper coloured postcard in the mail, with a little sketch of a hand holding a flower, by picasso. have you had encountered real meyer lemons? they are quite special little guys. they arent exactly just lemons. found, collected from china, then replanted in the states, meyer lemons are cross between lemons and sweet citrus- probably mandarins.

unlike boisterous big, thick-skinned real lemons, they are very thin and smooth skinned and rather sweet. not having any of that bitter white pith of lemons, you can eat these skins, without any sugar. oh did i mention they are incredibly juicy as well? but because they are thin-skinned and 'wet,' commercially they have not been such a hot commodity. even now, it's incredibly expensive. so the best way to do it is either through the farmer's markets or grow your own. one of my neighbours once had a dwarf meyer lemon tree that was quite a busy tree and she really didnt care much for them. so once in awhile, i would receive a handful of them- couple, just enough for a big soup bowl. you can do so many things with them.

one thing is to slice them really thin, warm it in a simple syrup and reduce, then put it on everything. even by itself. couple slices put underneath the skin of a roasting chicken with sage. or mince every bits of it and make a sweet lemon rice (bit of ghee, tumeric, peppercorns, rice then minced lemons) for that spicy curry. let the fresh slices mellow out with a nice crisp bottle of cava over the day then enjoy it with simple grilled peaches. or make nice custard-based lemon bar, but with whole minced fruit rather than just the juices, as you would with regular lemons. let it sit with honey, 1:1, in a jar. dunk a spoonful in hot water as a herbal tea.

see, the true value of meyer lemon is that it is gentle and sweet. if you want the sharpness of regular lemon, dont ever substitute meyer lemon. without the thick protective pith, the cushions, they are really... wonderful. and funny, because they are so soft and nice, they dont travel well. not a rough crowd. you have to be nice to them; funny enough, the tree itself is rather hardy. so it's not a total pansy plant. i say.. refined plant really. lemon grew up and decided that it is perfectly alright to have a soft, sweet side. no need to put up the armours toward the external world.

funny enough, this afternoon i spend with beethoven violin sonata op. 12 no. 3. and trying desperately to contain some of the things i have learned and absorbed in banff fall 2009, i am trying a couple new things. no pedals. not extending over the bar line. no stretching of time without giving some back. all articulation markings and dynamic markings. much more attention to the pronunciation of the phrases and each little punctuations. and tempo! the scholar kolisch suggests tempo of quarter note=120. now that's a bit too crazy for me yet, we are settled at 112. and this particular manner produces a very different flavour of beethoven.

rather than having that manic, bush-haired crazy man who is yelling at everything (not everyone, everyTHING! remember the rondo of rage over lost penny? har har), we get this real gentle human. man who is able to listen, comprehend, speak and invite everyone around him with this magic aura of freely offered and caring human interaction. no bravura passages or brutality. but of a close pull of waltz, danced by partners who can anticipate one another but does not, because it's not about being able to prove one could anticipate and do, but it is about letting the other present a moment which one then takes, integrate and in turn, offer another gesture.

the danger of playing such way? well, it's risky. nowhere to hide. no quick fixes for slightly misplace notes, a bit of compacted phrases, uncommitted articulations. and clearly no room for egos- it's not the way of playing that lets one 'masturbate' in a performance. it being honest and having only a very thin wall of safety, it needs more work to be integrated and committed. and it's absolutely beautiful i think.

too bad i cant really do it yet, as i would like to. but like caring for the lemons, i should be nice to the music, to my sonata partner mr. salamander who has been subjected to much different environment (he is a professional orchestral player most of the time), and to the kind souls who have shared their riches so freely, allowing me to be inspired, to try this 'different' sort of way.

so once again, a bit of magic today. in the soft blankets of wintry snow, i had speckles of meyer-lemon scented spell. its sweetness overflowed, from the simple postcard, from the beethoven score, to my mind, to my music partner, to the evening, where i am still reminiscing the exuberant, vibrant loveliness of fragile, beautiful things, offered so freely and willingly from one human to another.

here is a great warm greetings and hint of meyer lemon. thanks everyone!


cat feeding in silence

hello world. meet basil, the hitler cat. who managed to piss of 1/2 of its owner, well, actually the other half of the whole owner by hopping houses here and there. so what's with basil?

monkey's been very lucky to have two practice facilities this winter all the way in england. this wk, dear friends who are away visiting in wales at the moment left the keys to the door so as long as the door works, i am free to go back and forth and play/practice/moan/feed the cat. yesterday it took about half hour to sort the door out- somehow while taking the key out from the deadbolt, i have managed to lock it so that i could no longer open it from the inside.

so it required
1. giving up (on the idea that i will be able to 'undo' whatever i 'did')
2. locate the alternative route out (the back door from the kitchen)
3. find the keys to the back door (from myriads of keys hanging)
4. go out and open the door with the key from the outside (cold!)
5. test it out so that it's no longer locked solid from inside.
the saving grace was that basil the hitler cat was already fed so there was no real danger of getting eaten by a cat. great.

so large amount of the time has been spent on dragging myself to the work bench recently. i do go somewhat, even semi-religiously. about 5 min walk. get there. feed the hitler cat. make myself a cup of tea. skim through email. sit. stare. start work on things that i actually like, and though it's really -2 days till d-day, i still cant even bother to look at the strauss reduction. i have got all the tools yes... but i just cant seem to be able to process the reduction itself. it's not easy but it's certainly doable. i think the problem is that i know it, at its best, is always a cheap substitution. actually i stand corrected. i did bother to look at it. i just couldnt put the effort to learn the reduction...

music school auditions are very funny thing. it does your head in. in artificial time period of 30 minutes, they ask parts of prepared tasks that are somewhat arbitrary. like HR dept going through the resumes of applicants, just slightly worse because the nature of the music is
1. not work,
2. it is always subjective once the perf is above the minimum quality threshold,
3. the nature of the actual tasks, ie. performance, is never guaranteed, unlike someone whose gotta stand at the bank teller desk and do 40 hrs/wk.

shortly put, can monkey survive another year of collaborative? at a school?
answer: haha, yes. i survived banff ctr with such riches. it wont be as much fun or replenishing, but i am sure i can and will play certainly above the required minimum.
then the next question: can she convince the panel to give her a space in program with funding? answer: who knows?

so dealing with such questions and preparing another new choice for the audition itself (i have decided to ditch the franck sonata as i just cannot change my own mind on the piece: it's great, dont get me wrong, but that 2nd mvt is quite ridiculous for me personally. so now i am playing beethoven op. 12 no. 3 instead. i shouldve just done that from the beginning. however, i thought i could really stick the franck through and do all the typical audition requirements, like a good solid sensible applicant... then.. fail. ouch.) i am quiet during large part of the day.

i do make quite a bit of noise at the piano. but that's not really a conversation or.. even a formed expression. but more like murmuring of a baby who cannot talk yet. most of the sound world still existing within the little space between the ears. the sound itself is simple manifestation in physical sense. beside rehearsal with patient mr. salamander and some local friends and rare skype conversation, most of the world is quiet and silent to me. the main companion at charlie's *well, at the moment anyways, mr. hitler cat, do like my company (probably because i am allergic and that i do feed him) for hours i am not speaking.

weird things isnt it. be completely submerged into silence but working with sound, with no audience and no exchange. largely silent and barely formed soliloquies. i wonder if im going to go mad. and with sun going down at 3-4pm in the afternoon, into the dark steely blue grey of winter nights, i feel as if im trapped within an ice cube. no sound in/out. just all in the head. i am enjoying quite a big chunk of practicing but i cannot wait till this audition thing is over. so... arbitrary, necessary, artificial and.. i could go on i suppose.

the only melody that's been quite insistent for last little while is interestingly, k.361 mozart gran partita mvt. 3: adagio.

ooh that soaring oboe melody. thin silk, spun with no end in sight. absolutely beautiful and tortured. i have no clue where the torture aspect comes from- perhaps it is an ache of a sort. when something is too beautiful. too pure. also if you ever seen a live performance of it, i bet you couldnt take the eyes off of the oboist, who, in contrary to the graceful melody, looks like he/she is going to literally explode. all red and sweating. pulling that endless sound out. (in this youtube clip, it's a proper peculiar high double reed man. what do i mean by that- well, just look at his glasses! i love the subspecies of double reeders...) and much work once in silence: reed making. hours and hours, days, years spent with boiling pots of water, sugar cane bits, dried fingertips, sharpen blades, looking more like wood workshop than.. a practice room.

but perhaps that is the way it is- for every spoken note, there are millions of unspoken sounds. and may be those invisible, inaudible notes are the ones that links the physically existing moments together. like molecular co-valent bonds. magnetism. all kinds of human relations. like all of us when were babies, hours spent probably hiding fro parents, practicing syllables and learning the meanings (or making up meaning, whichever), until it was ready. ready to be 'pronounced.'

couple more days of obligated, dutiful work bench days. i wonder what kind of mindset i will return with post-audition to the piano. what composition or style does not matter so much does it- it's how or why i would be back. to restart again, in silence. while i do still hope that gran partita will resonate in my head. something pure and beautiful. with hefty price paid. in silence.

tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways

(keats, ode to a nightingale, line 31-35)


winged monkey business

it was three weeks ago today that banff residency fall 2009 had its final day, 12 12 2009. the last symmetrical day of the first decade of the twenty-first century shoot everyone like hot popped corns, to random directions all over. we all went back to places, pre-destined and mostly familiar. but nevertheless, changed without hope of true reversal. one cannot return back to a particular point of time. memories are imperfect. we all fill it in with wishes, hopes or/and despair. so comes that weird banff-family effect. the passengers of the voyage, especially the long ones, always end up bleeding onto one another, much like the water colour blobs on paper, slowly infusing and changing. no longer such clear edges nor lone isolated colour.

at this point, certain readers may be very tired of this banff rant. i know, ive done it almost a year now. incredibly so. and i still have not ran out of things to say. and just to let you know, it's probably far from being over- it'll always be some part of my psyche. a year in a lifetime should not have this much impact, but one has to realize sometimes the progress of time is not at a constant rate. in fact there are days that are so hazy one cannot distinguish the dates- blurs.

i have a friend who chatted with me today and said: why is that all new year's days seems unchanged? the new years eves been quite a mixture of different events- jazz clubs, at someone's house, with a lover, with family, by oneself, dance clubs, at a top of mountain, sea, whatevers. but you see, new year's day- it consists of hangovers, big eggs and bacon breakfast and desperate hope for the last ibuprofen in what's probably an empty pill container.
i had one answer: you are an alcoholic. event-triggered alcoholic.

ha ha ha. but seriously. that's just one example. everyone must have had some point of their lives where time seems to run at a different speed, faster or slower doesnt really matter. i remember the elementary school days. they are all the same. one superimposed onto another: isolation, finger-pointing, being alone and at same time, bizarre enough, being praised for high-achievement which in turn, pushed me back into the full circle of- isolation. weird eh? being the book-smart fat kid with glasses really does not help one's popularity i tell you. then there's last ten years, the 2000-2010. i went to music faculty as admission theory test fail-out and had to take the bail-out course. and end of that decade, i came out.. alright for now i think, no money lost, no great gain beside sheets of papers, objectively speaking. but a wholly different person. what do you remember of last decade i wonder? *feel free to drop me a feed back on this matter. i wonder if people remember pleasant times more so than unpleasant or vice versa? i think it says much about a fundamental view of a person.

then another banff fragment from this evening. and that's not the only one, as i am surrounded with these ongoing threads, for instance, mr. salamander, mr. bookbomber, mr. guru, ms. rabbit, mr. banffmagic, mr. bearcub, my inboxes and mind is always full of these faint but spider-silk strong fibres. but this particular fragment was about wings. being so easy, being so ready to communicate and share, no particular agenda but to see where it goes. with daily musings being taken care of at the basic level- meal plans, house staff, admin staff, instruments and studio bookings etc., we all dropped the weight of the world.

much like being shoot up to the moon, the gravity- taxation on every life being on earth, even to some extend to the sea creatures, as earth holds things together with incomprehensible but undeniable force, suddenly lifts. like invisible wings, one flew as high as one could- silly, as high as the ceiling would be. so instead of trying to look into one another, everyone's eyes were leveled. short, tall, fat, skinny, dark haired, fair haired, squinting, staring, whatever or however each one was being stuck on the ground, did not matter any longer.

all we had to do was keep our eyes open and look into one another. and there we were. one gazing into other's eyes. veering into the window of the soul. letting a self be reflected off from another. we were no longer looking into simple objects, but into one another, fusing individual worlds into some sort of creative mess. like bread dough or something. and as time passes, it morphs and evolves. and this could have only happen because we were all able to look one another at the same level. so easy. so graceful.

so with tired eyes from much abuse from staring blankly at the franck sonata for hours and days, which i just decided to dump it off today for my audition on thursday ( ! ) in favour of beethoven op. 12 no. 3, thanks to kind mr. salamander (i just couldnt bare to practice it any longer. i dont like it! i shouldve just gone with what i like from the first place. foolish monkey), i peeked into small bits of banff fragments, the wings. wings that will take me to places otherwise unreachable and even worse, unthinkable. undetermined and wonderful. and went as far as to get another temporary moment-off-gravity.


now im winged, perhaps i should really live up to the legendary lack of civility of winged monkeys. now.. where did the wicked witches move to....? i will go.. to the opposite direction. perhaps to find toto the puppy. without my comrades being realistic and sensible, may be i will be able to properly hold the puppy and give it a proper belly rub.