22.11.12

demo sessions 4: time management

so youve finalized the rep. has timeline for due dates. secured your staff. and now: time management.

try to figure out what you would need and may 'want,' and by that, think about the order of the asked playing samples. you want to put the strongest one on the beginning, as the schools receives mountains of cds, there's no guarantee that they will listen to all of it. well, i suppose there's a guarantee that they will NOT listen to all of it, haha.  so though it may be possible for the auditioner(s) to move around and listen to things out of order, it is likely that they will pop it in and it'll start blaring whatever's on first.  also, the other point is that look into your weakest piece- this is the one that you may want to take multiple takes of.  save some time for it.

here's a news. to record an hour of music, it usually takes 2+ hours.  how does that work? well, first, depending on the familiarity with space/acoustic, you and your engineer will have to play around for a bit to find the optimal space. this is worth the time especially if you are doing your 'own' with consumer level electronics.  this set-up can take anywhere from 10 min to half hour.  if not sure, play a bit, record and listen to it before you commit the entire session with the setup.

and between takes, you will want to stop and discuss/review and determine what can be fixed and what should be embraced (aha. your producer would be useful here).  try not to dwell too much on the discussion, however, it will take time.  for instance, if you are recording a song as a vocalist and your song is about 2 min long, do realize your discussion with pianist may take longer than 2 min.  more number of selections there are, more time it will need for in-between-things.

and there's no way that people feel fresh enough to plow through a session unless one is already experienced.  do realize that mental pressure of 'demo' making will take some toll on self. you may need drink of water or time to cool down for the next track.  and no, this is separate from the discussion time.  it is safe to assume that a typical audition cd (3 instrumental selections and couple excerpts) will take 2 hours or longer usually.  do try to make a time sheet- allocate chunks of time to each track and do make consideration for possible take 2, 3, 4..., along with the previously mentioned breaks and discussions, dont forget the setup time either.  this will give you a very realistic timeline of a session.

do realize that after the raw takes are made, engineer will spend additional time to cut, trim, save and burn your material in required form.  for straight trimming/tailing/burning, it usually takes me anywhere between 0.5 hr to... whatevers. so dont make an exciting and dangerous assumption that by the end of session, you will have something that you can put in an envelop to send off.  however, if you are doing real time burning (there are portable CD burners that will do it), this may be possible. check with your engineer.

look over small stuff that you can do in advance to save the time.  one big thing is score-related things. does your score and pianist/collaborators' scores match up? same edition? has same bar number? at least put in some bar numbers or rehearsal numbers, which will save you significant amo of time during discussion and retakes (if applicable).  are they readable?  are silent page turns possible- you can do this by getting someone to turn, or shrink the pages and print multiple in one page to eliminate the turn, whatever you have to do, as falling pages do happen and a track can be... unusable.  if you have photocopies, are they secured in a binder or other things, so it'll be readable and stay put in one place? feel free to bring some tapes. they never hurt anyone.  even better, on that last rehearsal with your team, do some 'practice' takes, and do cut, paste, shrink, print, tape, so that your music is not going to pose additional problems.

if you think you need other things- water, etc., do get it before your session starts. you may not want to be rushed but when that time ticks to the last few min and you still have few things to lay down, you might experience slight anxiety and regret.  a few people also pack energy bars and other fuels, as rec session can be somehow quite draining.  if you need to go out and get a banana in a middle of a session, you will lose time.

remember to turn your phone off. 

do bring a watch or a clock and keep an eye on time AND timeline.

these four posts should carry you for the most basic demo making sessions.
i hope everyone will have a successful demo making experience, and do remember: most likely, you would be doing an early-year demo. this is not representational of who you are and what you do. it's a simple snapshot of who you are now.  if this is for applications, do realize that pre-screening is only a pre-screening. this is not the end or the beginning of the world. it doesnt have to be. and if it is for pre-screen, most schools do not allow edits either, so all you have to do is go out and take couple shots.  relax and be who you are. you dont want to be someone else and the schools dont want to take someone else- they want to see who you are!!

and yeah, dont ever get clever and rip someone else's work off to send in. this has happened in past. once you are caught, it could lead to 'academic dishonesty,' meaning all your post-secondary degrees can be taken away from you, and you could be banned from the entire north american post-secondary educational institutions. and yes, this is retroactive.  

happy recording!

14.11.12

demo sessions 3: find your location!

tumbling dice: the musicians relax int he villa's basement studio.
despite the debauched environment,
exile on main street went onto become
widely viewed as the stone's best album.
however, not a good place if you want to do lieder demo.
from daily mail, 20 may 2010

to find a decent place to do a recording may be surprisingly difficult.  there are more sound around us than we realize. but boy it stings you in the ears when unexpected/unwanted- in the quiet passages, in the grande pause, end of a fleeting cadence, there it is, slamming doors, long-tone exercises, the streetcars...

most of my work happens in three places:
1. faculty of music- WH, vic chapel, FM + other rooms
2. conservatory of music- conservatory theater, mazzolini hall
3. local churches

notice that there is no 'real' studio? well, it's because i tend to do the 'away' events mostly, related to the school events, especially recitals and demo recordings (playing/coaching/rec).  and these locations have one thing in common: decent, real piano and 'friendly' feel to young budding musicians.

yes, many small scale commercial studios wont have a grand piano.  a few may have an upright piano. some will say that an electric keyboard IS an acceptable substitution (try to tell that to a lieder singer...) and hope you will overlook.  this is all fine until you have to do a classical music demo recording.  you want to make a recording that focuses on your playing rather than some ancient mistuning (or lack there of) heard from the piano.  and this is why i highly recommend 'school' facilities to students- as both schools mentioned do have professional staff maintaining the instruments; its visually neutral feel also helps (imagine doing a vid-aud in the backdrop of CNE or a big mega rammstein show... yeah... not the most efficient) along with 'savings' on the wallet. save the big bucks to do a studio recording (with editing), as most demos do not allow (or tries to discourage editing, see previous post).

if you decide to go and rent a studio, do go take a look and do plonk a couple notes. and yes, do ask for the equipment list and referral for the engineer, as pro studios tend to provide engineering services as well.  realize not all studios are design to do high-fi classical demos.  if they provide producers, do ask if they are familiar with classical music/your repertoire.  producers are to twick and fine tune things and this wont happen if they arent familiar with the 'ideals' of the discipline.

dont forget to check if you are comfortable performing in the space as well.  many of students probably have not had the pressure of recording, nevermind in dry 70s- style studios, laden with foams, carpets and even rockwool.  in such space, it will sound weird at first experience: usually awfully dry, horrid and soul-crushing.  this may sound entirely different on the actual tracks laid (an intelligent AI algorithm called reverb can remedy the situation), however, even knowing that, if you are not used to dry space, you may be discouraged too early in the game, hence not getting that max bang per buck.  also, in case of vid-aud, you want the place to be neutral- not a grunge space where you can see previous death metal bands' coffee stains and god-knows-what (the stones did alright though, in such debauchery).

after all this consideration, if you are renting, do ask them for packages/different rates that you may be able to negotiate- single hours are always more than a bulk.  if you are using their piano (which should be at an acceptable playing condition), do ask if they provide a tuning service (there'll be an upcharge). also your local churches may be able to rent you their worship space for a fee. if you been to a church to listen to a noon concert and liked their sound, do call and ask them. why not: the worst answer is: no, we dont.

if you are student, you can always try to book school spaces- this should be made through the appropriate office(s) of the school.  start inquiring- main desk can always direct you to the appropriate personnel. in some schools, they may have open-doored rec facility as well.  if you never learned what's avail, well, time to find out.  two contrasting cases:  at the conservatory, student can book conservatory theater, which as decent acoustic if appropriately recorded.  but if you want to rent walter hall, that'll cost you some pretty penny.

for all the public spaces, do get there early and post signs, big signs: recording in progress, please do not disturb.  the door shutting, next door neighbour practicing, recalling of the bar incidents between friends and roaring laughter- you may not want them in your tracks. and though it sound nutty, do check local events listing. i often have to tell people to look into a different date on the santa parade day.  you laugh but it happens more often than not.  same with st. paddy's parade, gay parade, caribana, veterans's, anything they block the road off and have a ghetto-blasters and marching bands: NO.
unless you are in a sealed room.

and try to pick the least busiest time of the day.  if you are doing a take in boyd neel (one of my go-to rooms for demos in EJ, as it's secluded, spacious, familiar and not connected to too many hallways; geiger torell gets loads noise from staircase/bathroom traffic in 330, you are often interrupted by curious peeps. same with all the other classrooms.  i do like 120, but the piano's often abused.  109 often gets bleeding in noise from office traffic.  130 is also nice if you are used to playing in a dry room.  both 'end' rooms in 2nd floors can be overly resonant and loud, losing details, calibrate accordingly), do not book the hours right before a band rehearsal.  or right after the band rehearsal.  if you are using classrooms, generally avoid the 'working hours,' to avoid people unknowingly ruining what couldve been your best take.

another example of a good space: vic chapel. it sounds great for guitar, flute and voice.  realize that the piano is a bit of a gruffy dog (still nicer than something you may find in a 'pro' studio) and if it's during the time of vic college classes, you will have bleedin'noise.  in the evenings, you will also pick up traffic noise from queen's park circle.  the best time in vic chapel is early early wknd mornings. if there's no parade.

keep your eyes open when you go to a concert in a new place.  ask others around if they know a space that rents for fee, has decent piano (if you need one), has a pleasant visual view (for vid-aud).

and do these searches early! multi-use spaces get quite booked up by november and probably is booked solid for dec, right through holiday.  and always gather a couple of dates among your staff so you dont have to lose the space on desperate circumstances.

next thing: time management (you kinda have to think this before booking a space, oops...)

13.11.12

Kein Aug hat je gespürt, Kein Ohr hat mehr gehört Solche Freude


 no matter how well you thought you know them, the various people in one's life rides the wave of life, each heading to an appropriate yet different direction. in passing and weaving, one may see a familiar one in a particularly beautiful light- the light that enables us to see through the fog of daily mundane life.

suddenly you realize what real life is- or rather, what it can be.

in 2008 ted talk, benjamin zander, at end of it, talks of 'shining eyes,' would we dare walk the same and talk the same, if we remember those shining eyes?
http://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

in 2009 banff days, a few very kind, intelligent and gentle souls continued to lit up silent, demanding nights, where i was easily found, wood shedding in studio, early morning hours. felt chased and failing, i relied on these kind souls to fuel self, to take another step- borrowed, or rather, 'fed' hope into blood.

in daily setting, i rely on one of my best friends to keep me grounded, centered and resolved.  he understands that being depressive does not mean that one is in need of a good cry. he doesnt say much. but i know his fists are held in fury when im mistreated. and he quietly sends me off to practice and gym, knowing that is the medicine that keeps me from keeling over.

people talk about over-reliance on social media and internet devices, how we forget to communicate with real people. my phone, however, often bursts with kind words from various people, including a particular minnow, who is willing to take that punch for me, thrown in frustration, quick to retract in embarrassment.   

then there's a quiet friend who i have not seen in a long time, who has nourished me with warm bowl of soup and a lovely note, hiding in the jumble of grad lounge fridge madness when my dental surgery left me a bit pathetic.  

and there's the igniter, who graduated from being a mere book bombing. shy as a wee child at times, he produces magical moments, really, rather shamelessly. and i am often surprised at the vignettes of his life- i can only hope his wings will grow stronger and stronger, to wake the people.  

not to forget about the heron lady, who gracefully acknowledges her whole being, including the strong and the weak bits- and that's how she fly.  herons arent meant to sprint. they are meant to fly.

though not often, there's the mystique writer who creates gossamer thin weave of lovely blanket which he sends occasionally- stories of taichi, leaves and quiet meditation. when i get the chance, i wrap self around with the blanket of words- to quietly sink into a hiding hole.

and many others- including my wee poor momdad and granny, who are like imaginary magical bean stalks, growing through and breaking my boundaries with unexpected answers, demands and love... all these people wakes me in the down deep of the grey sleep.  this autumn has been very difficult and i found it challenging.  

perhaps life does not give a challenge that is too big. may be it is the human weakness of 'die-trying' that breaks us.  i now understand in my 30s that may be i should embrace the things i cannot uphold.  to hold the world, i am not atlas.  i will be crushed to pieces.  but to embrace the world and lean into it, i may get to share the last bit of saving grace.

it's 2am and reno guys will march in at 9am sharp.
i need the sleep but i cannot sleep.
im anxious and i am worried.

so here i am, in surreal space which i cannot tell how it actually exists, i am invoking the real world that i must live in, with bright eyes, with ears that can hear, to wake up from the gripping hand of depression.

it's not impossible.

and i can see it. hear it.

as my friends wake me,

with their gentlest touches.

Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf,
let me rise with you oh the beautiful people.

12.11.12

demo sessions: a bonus sneak preview

so, here is a peek of what the session may look like:

we have: quiet space, well-maintained piano, appropriate instruments and scores.

for visual, zoom recorder will record into a class10 SD card.

for audio, we have AT4050ST, which has two diapragmes/capsules in one casing, so we are still recording stereo.  this mic is connected to mackie 402, which powers it (through turning on 'phantom power' button), and then it will feed to three recorders: zoom, tascam and microtrack (which runs on battery, which will save you in case there is power outage). and you monitor the sound with good headphone (in this case, AKG K240s).

here's a funny thing:
so why is the back up with battery power important? well, if the power goes out, yes, mic will be silent, as mixer will be silent. so we arent recording anymore.  however, because of battery power, microtrack will stay alive, meaning you will be able to save the progress, in contrast to recorders without battery backup, which will simply fizzle and forgot if anything have happened at all.

so if the power goes out NOW, tascam's going to have an amnesia. but zoom and microtrack will give you the option to save.  this can make or break the day.

what you dont see:
gaff tape (always secure your lines so people wont trip. or your machines may fall to ground), spare medias (meaning appropriate things for each recorder: here, we would have compact flash and SD card), if you are going away, you may want a spare mic cable (however, better to test them on regular basis as they are heavy and bulky), sometimes a sandbag (to secure the mic stand), a notepad and pencil/pen.

and you let the session roll. yeah. this kiddie btw, totally killed his list. yeah.

demo sessions: 2. make your war list and call upon your allies


now, let's form a list of repertoire needed:

1. title, movement, composer, year, edition
2. req. staff: do you need accompanist? chamber musicians?
3. TIMING: yes. seriously. how long is it?

if multi-movement works, do timing of each mvt.  by doing this, you can now separate your repertoire into two categories: solo with no accompaniment, music with other people in it.  this is important in case you cannot book a leisurely day-long session; your pianist's probably playing for others as well.  maximize your financial means by getting him/her in only for the things that you actually need him/her.  this also enable you to book separate sessions with your engineer, as he/she's probably not able to book you a nice 3 hours chunks at a time.  more on that later.

now... here's the important thing to consider-
these tapes are usually request for 'pre-screening,' meaning if you PASS, you may be granted a live audition round.

now, why would they ask you to do such crazy things?

well, it's not to make your life miserable, but to actually help you.

by passing through the pre-screening, you are given a soft 'okay,' meaning you are suitably matched with entrance audition requirement.  some schools receive obscene amount of applications and if they were to take everyone who applied, not only it would cost everyone a handsome deal (applicants: hotel, travel, pianist fee; schools: all-inclusive-logistical-nightmare), it would seriously make the live audition to last throughout the entire year.  for reference, jacob school of music, indiana university, has 1600 students.

but you see, passing the pre-screening actually still does not guarantee a placement in actual school.  for grad studies, most land-based institutions are govt subsidized. they will try to pick the best of who they can get.  you may be at the top of their applicant, you may not be. it depends on year, applications (size, quality), available spots in the studios, even on building logistics (renovation, etc.).

and this is WHY YOU DO NOT WANT A HEAVY EDITED PRE SCREEN TAPE.
if you think 20 edits in 5 min piece will get you an audition spot, yes, it may. but you are unlikely to make it through the live round with that piece (unless you improve drastically).  and some edits are obvious. some are impossible.  this is why more school is asking for DVD/vid-aud tapes.  visual editing is expensive and almost impossible to hide.  so take a note here: if they ask you for visual demo, forget the hope of miraculous editing.

after all, they want to take you, not you through some frankenstein!

now to assemble list of useful allies:

pianist/chamber musicians:
pick the person who you have played with, rehearsed with and happy with.  if youve been working on a difficult sonata with a fellow student, this may be the time hire a professional for the session (if you both are not ready to be recorded yet).  remember, this is your demo; your sonata partner may be ready and roaring in 3 weeks. but if you cant wait that 3 weeks, you may start contacting an accompanist ASAP.  ive seen many sessions crumble into meltdowns because of difficult reductions and/or piano parts.  and realize that pianists are probably busy during these recording/demo/audition/recital times. get in touch early.

if you are going in with your fellow sonata partner, make sure that he/she is also comfortable of being recorded. if this is aud-vid rec, do tell them in ADVANCE so they can dress appropriately. i once did a session with pianist wearing a cafeteria table cloth as she wasnt aware and came up in lovely surfer shorts that was too short for the camera angle...


engineer:
please dont just take an ad or someone's word.if you have time (and with calendar, you would have MADE the time), try to look through referrals, ask someone you trust for referrals and listen to their samples, or go through school-provided list.  as there are many different type of engineers, they may focus on different issues.  i once had a 'plea' last minute call from a singer who hired an engineer and when he got home at 11pm and listened to it, the recording had no dynamic range... the engineer btw told him that he's focusing on television broadcast (where you need to 'normalize' as much as possible, meaning low dynamic range).  except this was an ADP application to a big brand nyc music school. and because they did it on the possible last day, there was no real time to fix anything *see, mark your due date EARLIER.  you want someone who is familiar and understands 'ideal' sound for classical music (which may not be quite the same with dubstep)

another way is to request list of equipment.
here's a microphone i once saw on an engineer advertisement around school:
now, you say: who hires a 'pro' engineer with that microphone?!

well, im saying when it's written: Sony ECM-DS70P, it doesnt quite look like... that, at least to the general public who havent paid attention yet.  you want to hire someone who has professional level microphone (after all, this is music demo) and who can do 16bits at least (that's CD quality. the usual industry standard is 24bits, which is then reduced down). if you dont know the engineer at all, do ask for the equipment list and do some google searches. you will soon find out who does the 'home style' and who can run with detailed and instruement-appropriate microphones to capture you at your finest.

additionally, MAKE SURE THEY RUN BACKUP.  sometimes equipments fail. power fails. things break. coffee is spilled. one way to prep for it is to run a backup.  the backup unit should have battery-power-back up and should have a separate input line (this can run from the same mixer, however); if you are running the line-in (microphone) directly from main unit to backup unit, if main fails- well, back up will also fail. going through a separate pre-amp/mixer will at least 1. guarantee power to the mic and 2. ensure line-in stays alive.

and bring BACKUP MEDIA. this may be extra CDs (if you are burning it there), or an extra SD card, perhaps a memory stick with more-than-plenty room left in it.  in this case, if your master CD gets sat on by a random dude, you still have another copy.  and with the way things go, rather than having another CD, you have a better chance of storing/finding things digitally through flash-memory stick/cloud computing (dropbox, Adrive, etc)

if you do aud-vid demo, and engineer said they will sync it later, do trust them and do check it before you send it off.  i played in many demos and often by the time i found out from my copy that aud-vid is out-of-sync, the actual application have reached the destination.  of course, they would try to understand this may not be your fault, but do not leave things to grace of others. do check the quality of the work you receive. *once again, helpful to get the stuff done in advance, so you can have couple days if necessary to request re-sync, etc.

well, the opposite view is: it's only a pre-screen!
well, feel free to go ahead and 'practice' recording with your own gears, or explore with friends. this can be a great asset and awesome experience.  and the consumer level recorders such as H2, H4 or the ZOOM series can do amazing things WHEN PLACED OPTIMALLY.  but this also takes a bit of practice- how to position, where to position, how far/close, what kind of room, too loud/too soft, etc, the challenges will creep up. but dont give up! it is possible to do an acceptable demo with self and friends.  and above mic from sony only costs 50-70 dollars, much less than an hour session with a decent engineer... yes, you can LEARN, which is awesome.  but make sure that the final quality is comparable (by the due date).  if everyone wore their best suit to the audition, perhaps you should not show up in your best pajamas...  and if you are tight on time and unsure of the approximated final result- call and engineer if this is the school that you REALLY want to get to.  it's hard for the juries to take a crummy quality recording seriously (just like resume printed in stained papers).


friend/mentor/producer,
take this one seriously. no one that i know can 1. play, 2. listen and 3. make notes, 4. manage time, 5. be calm and focused on the repertoire.  especially when the pressure may be on for the 'demo' and delivering the best.

as a pianist/chamber musician/producer, i often provide additional support as a producer in a recording session.  the role of this third person is to: simply bring out the best of a session.

this may mean running photocopies, finding tapes, checking editions, making notes during takes, suggest tutti cuts, determining what can be fixed now and what cannot be (which turns to 'what needs fixing' and 'what needs accepting'), if there's future editing plan, where the edits should take place and where to start/finish the retake (many people do retakes on the 'spot' of retake, which means it cannot be spliced without problem.  you need a bit extra on front AND back for successful splice. and depending on the context of music, some spots just cannot be mixed together- pianists: beware of your pedalling, as this often makes editing impossible), and most importantly, time management.

if your engineer is well-versed in your repertoire, please do ask them if they would be the third ear.  for me, it makes the session more interesting. however, it is also useful to not to ask anyone to be the 'producer,' as impractical suggestions (usually due to time/resource constraints) can also destruct a session.  you can also ask your teacher or mentor to be there, if it does not phase you (it often does, believe it or not- think of how your lesson goes; if you play better in lesson, you should consider asking them if they could. if you do feel pressured in your lesson, well, perhaps you should do it without your teacher).

it can even be your colleague or a friend who is IMPARTIAL and RECORDING EXPERIENCED.  the colleague thing can turn into a mini- studio class session, which you do not want.  you dont have time to ponder changes in a studio during a session- the aim is to twick and adjust, not to consider and fancy a change.  so be aware.

but i tell you, having an efficient producer (or in my case, i do my best to do double: rec eng/producer), can really save your sanity during a session.  think about this one carefully, as you can do without, but if you do find the right one... BINGO!

next topic: finding space and estimating time



















11.11.12

demo sessions: 1. filling in the days


tis the time of the year where many people face a horrid event: making audition tapes.  well, now a few asks for DVDs/youtube uploads. how times have changed!

if you thought filling out applications were difficult, i am glad, as making a demo should really be a nice experience- difficulty is optional, not required.  however, it does help to prepare oneself to the daunting ask of making a demo. i sat in to play. to accompany. to produce. to record. to boost morales. so here it is, a few tips.

first, figure out who wants what:
each school will have particular requirements for selection of repetoire and preferred format.  read it carefully  and if you are applying to multiple schools, do make a mastersheet:

1. due date for application/upload:
2. school/program/preferred teacher:
3. format requested: CD? DVD? mp3s? youtube?
3. repertoire required:

now that youve made a mastersheet, go get a monthly calendar, print one if you want. start marking the due dates on calendar.  NOW, mark T - 3 business days if the school requires hard copies to be delivered through post/courier.  this is to give yourself a realistic due date to work with.  of course, one can always do international express courier. it hurts to do it though. also, this gives you a bit of room in case things go bats.  we are talking: you getting ill. your musician(s) or technical staff getting ill. flood in the recording space.  forgotten major essay.  prepping the wrong thing.  family emergency. losing your master of recording session. lost score. whatever goes.

the mastersheet and the marked calendar now stays with your music scores/binder/books.  having a hard copy that you can scribble does make a difference.  ready? if you need, do colour coordinate the dates of each school. after all, we can always use some colour.

next: what to record and who do you need??





7.11.12

controversy, hardship- let us be alive, courageous and liberated.

voters line up before dawn at washington mill elemantary school, 
near mount vernon in fairfax county, VA, tuesday, nov 6 2012 
(AP Photo/j. scott applewhite)


12:55am, 07 november 2012.

romney came up the podium and made his speech.

how many ears did it reach? how many hearts did it touch? many.
supporters. oppositions. bystanders.
it was not the victory speech he wrote.
but perhaps this was greater speech than the one he wanted.
to believe in america. to believe in principles. to be a real citizen.

this was one of the ugliest and bloody political battles in recent times (especially for -1.5 years). along with americans, the world watched: people ran from one side to another, swayed and swayed, lost, confused and angered, looking for unreal solutions, fix-alls. pressurized pot of america.

it was campaign season full of frustration and word games, fuelled through data/media processing/manipulation.  it was fought hard, nothing spared, a million commercials in nine states in the last month... it is so easy to lose the sight of the real reason in the holy game of politics- some members of the society becoming borderline unreasonable (in my eyes: the tea party members were memorable, and also herman cain...)

but the real goals-
to improve, to believe, to grow and to mend.

i am not an american. but this election weighed heavily in my mind.  i lived in america for five years, 2003-2008.  as i learned to become an adult, an individual, if inexperienced, in america through my mid-late twenties, it is an integral part of who i am today. though its former glory fades as it lose its grip of the world slowly through recession, international military conflicts and the consequent divisions among its citizens, america will remain to be one of the key players in my own personal and objective international relations.

because of america's role in this global, close-knit world, we will all carry the weight of this decision, though as non-american, most of us from the outside had no choice but only to observe today.

i rooted for obama in my heart.  but that's not as important- in a sense, in such a tight race (and result), it does not really matter who 'won' for now. in fact, i would say no one really won as the population still remain fractured. however,  the most significant news was a simple one:

historical turn-out for the voting day.

even with scar of sandy still fresh, open and bloody.

people waiting for hours,
braving the weather,
personal situations and logistics,
conflicts in beliefs-

they came and voted. yes. this is the real victory.
a society where its citizens are aware (if forced by the difficult circumstances- health, military, equality issues, to name a few), and took the courage to be vocal.

i wished for every voters that they made decisions they really believed in.

that in time to come, whoever wins,
people will remain flexible and aware,
opinionated and to be communicative,
to be responsible,
to not be blinded by quick-solutions,
to commit and believe in power of change an inspiration.

the election results illustrates heavily conflicted country, that all parties need to keep their integrity, having the grace and courage to move away from personal attacks and cheap shots (it does grate my nerves to see people casually calling romney as an idiot, a moron, etc. though i disagree with most of his principles, he is a man who still has almost half of the nation who believes in him. his ideas are controversial and dangerous, however, if he is a citizen, let him also be respected for his role and influence. republicans, however ridiculed they have been by others, are still valid and important members of the society), demanding times- but what an opportunity for living!

obama, with peoples' voices, is declared victor today, if barely.  this illustrates nothing about the value of his policies or actions.  however it does shows that we do support, with doubts, questions and anxiety.  yes, he has a long term to carry and yes, we believe that we can. but we must believe in our own choices when times are difficult and demanding, not only on a celebratory election night. hang on, believers, as the hard time is to continue, especially when we believe in right for free speech, expression and ideas.

i wish the americans (and others) will keep this gift of the paradigm alive- the gift of willingness, to take action- whether it be passive or active.  often there may not be a clear option- then we may never give up, that we progress through the difficult weight, to find a better solution and to continue to question the solution, to not be stagnant, but to be alive, flexible, persevere and to consider.

congratulations, america.
you showed the world that you are alive.
let us live with you, in robust discussions and exchanges,
let us be better, compassionate and courageous,
in the difficult times.






4.11.12

'how to disappear completely'


as we give up an hour of a day, the official 'sinking' into the depth began last night.

right after samhein and hurricane sandy, i cant help but to think this autumn was brutal. beautiful but brutal. as if the bright reds of fading trees can share so much with torn flesh of a dying animal, blood leaving the body, eyes hazing over the last bit of breath.

perhaps things look even more gruesome when juxtaposed with brilliance of life- it is the death of youth that is tragic and beautiful, not death of the old.

there has been too much drama in monkey life, right from the start of september. and it is showing no sign of ending. it is almost sad that i do not possess the courage or the strength to write publicly about all the issues that has came up and that has left marks.  is it cowardice or is it the right political move? i cannot tell them apart anymore, not at this point.  all i know is that it is not realistic to write it out to the world.

after all, i do have a real thing to worry about: renovation for the apartment. sigh.

perhaps it is not realistic to express  to the world what i really think and believe.

may be when people say they want to know and they do appreciate, they really say they wish they already knew and they want to be appreciated.

after all, as general public, we want it easy. we say we want fairness, but what we say is we wish it was fair.

just as they say, it is for the good of the people, though it really is good for 'them.'

and perhaps it is inevitable, after such beautiful summer of freedom and real friendship, life back in the grind can suffocate you gradually but slowly.

ive been broken for awhile.
only difference is that now im crumbling.
piece by piece, to floor.
to stepped on further,
as people say: oh i am sorry. of course you matter.
but i understand, of course, as you say, what you mean to say.

and it's okay.

brief look at the photos from nyc on nytimes after the hurricane makes me even more unsure about my own 'right' to 'complain' about this 'horrid' life. perhaps it is simpler than that. may be it's just another re-encounter with reality, with its harshness and fury.

as i wondered downtown with hint of yuletide madness in the air (it is madness isnt it?), i cannot help to think that it really doesnt matter. that i dont really matter. which is the truth.  the world will go on, just as it always has.  as i give up the 'right' to care about self-existence, there it goes, importance of my own life.

just like the leaves blowing in the wind, soon to become lightest dust, may be i want to disappear.

...in a little while
i'll be gone
the moment's already passed
yeah, it's gone.
im not here
this isnt happening
im not here...

(from how to disappear completely, kid A, radiohead)