100 things: Redux (81-100)

Welcome to part 5 of “This 25-year-old revisited her teen years. What she discovered about herself will shock you.” [ Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 ]

  1. Emerging from the darkness
  2. Knowing someone who likes the obscure things that you like…and becoming friends
    I was going to write that I can’t remember a single friendship that has arisen from us liking the same obscure things, but then I realized my entry didn’t say there was a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. So yes, at some point, I probably have started a friendship with someone where we later learned – or later both discovered – the same “obscure” things. (See #97, I suppose.)
  3. Overcoming fears
    Not yet.
  4. Herbie Hancock
    See #78. Also, in jazz band that year, we played Cantaloupe Island.
  5. Nailing a musical solo :)
    I debated posting a video of me doing just that, but you’ll just have to trust me. My senior year of high school, we went to Orlando for our music department tour, and I had a solo in one of our concert band songs. When they were giving out awards later in the trip, they announced that one of the individual excellence award was for a flute soloist – cue exaggerated nudging from my classmates – that wasn’t me. But all those people thought it was me, so that was fun.
  6. Being Haitian!
    I posted this video on my aunt’s Facebook wall and I woke up to see a bunch of Haitian relatives had liked it and my aunt had commented, “And now I want all of it!!!”
  8. Paying slightly more for MUCH better floss
    I bought HyVee brand floss the other day. It’s fine, really.
  9. Peter Jackson
  10. Keeping busy enough not to worry
    Now it’s less wanting to be buy to distract from my anxiety, more needing to be busy because boredom, for me, means I’m apt to marathon several seasons of a TV show and get nothing done for days.
  11. Living in earthquake country – as opposed to hurricane/tornado/tsunami…
    Probably because I think the strongest earthquake I ever experienced was a 5.0 and I slept through it. Since moving to Iowa, we’ve had tornado watches and warnings, but no actual tornados. (Also, I was very happy to miss this fun-sounding quake in 2014.)
  12. Sunsets
    The Midwest has the best sunsets because it’s so flat here. Quote me.
  13. Being chosen for something prestigious
    When I was a junior in high school, my math teacher needed to nominate someone to be one of the two representatives the school sent to Apple HQ in Cupertino to learn about the laptop carts and new tech stuff they’d be implementing on campus. So, of course, he asked a guys – a friend of mine – if he’d be interested in going. Lucky for the teacher, that guy knew better; he admitted he didn’t know squat about Apple anything and suggested me instead. It wasn’t the most prestigious thing I was ever chosen to do, sure, but it was an amazing experience. Plus I got to make a podcast with the superintendent and my middle school principal in one of the workshops we attended at Apple, and I had to call them by their first names, which was SO STRANGE.
  14. Middle English
    That dark period in my life where I was so into being an English major that I memorized a good chunk of the Prologue to Canterbury Tales is over now. But I still follow @LeVostreGC on Twitter, so.
  15. University of Iowa football
    Well, they had just won the Orange Bowl… But seriously, I am still a fan, bolstered by their improbably great season last year. I never did make it to a game when I actually went to school there, though.
  16. Learning more about myself from a book
    This is so vague that I doubt I actually had a book in mind. But if I were to amend this item today, I’d say that I enjoy books that are so similar to my own (past) life and experiences that I can live somewhat vicariously through their characters. Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl is a perfect example, especially the “socially inept college freshman” part.
  17. Sigur Rós
    I could talk about how a good friend of mine introduced me to them in high school, and therefore introduced me to Iceland. I could talk about how their film Heima screened in Iowa City and I was one of the first people to get a ticket. But instead, I’ll just show you this video, because it’s the song my husband and I walked down the aisle to at our wedding.
  18. Reykjavík, Iceland
    A.K.A. “the dream.” My parents have been there, and I’m still not over it.
  19. Powell’s Books
    I’ve been here once. In fact, the entirety of my time spent in Portland has been at Powell’s (and in their strange little parking garage). But I do remember buying a Calvino book – after marveling at how many they had – and getting lost in the stacks and adoring the color-coding and just having a perfect time.
  20. Being myself, not anyone else

100 things: Redux (61-80)

Welcome to part 4 of “This 25-year-old revisited her teen years. What she discovered about herself will shock you.” [ Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 ]

  1. Not being a complete idiot
  2. Leonard Bernstein’s tone clusters
    I was in the pit orchestra of my high school’s production of West Side Story (which, if you didn’t put it together by now, had music written by Leonard Bernstein). The finale contains a couple of fun little tone clusters – not to get too technical, they’re basically a bunch of similar notes all played at the same time – and I evidently liked those quite a bit. In the below video, listen at 1:18-1:20.
  3. My ghetto iPhone :)
    No, Christine. Stop. (This could have been a poorly-conceived inside joke.)
  4. The smell of gasoline
    I just looked this up, and apparently the reason most people like the smell of gasoline is really simple: it reminds them of their childhoods. (Not because it gets you high – it doesn’t.)
  5. Whole numbers
  6. Sparkling apple cider
    This was my go-to alcohol substitute at all Thanksgivings and New Years Eves. But today, I can’t help but think of this SNL clip with Fred Armisen and Bryan Cranston whenever I consume any sparkling apple beverages.
  7. Itzhak Perlman
    Music of the Heart was one of my favorite films when I was studying violin. It features a ton of well-known professional violinists, including Joshua Bell, the late Isaac Stern, Arnold Steinhardt, and, of course, Itzhak Perlman. I can’t remember why I initially identified with him so strongly, but I think – I think – his artistry really started to stick with me when I watched Schindler’s List for the first time in high school. His violin solo in the film’s main theme is indescribably great…and I’m aware of how little justice I’m doing him with that description. (Content note: The video below contains scenes from the film, some of which are graphic and/or potentially triggering.)
  8. Yellow, blue, black, orange
    In kindergarten, we randomly chose a “Student of the Week” every week of the school year. Now, I don’t remember much of what that entailed, but I do remember we had a few of our friends in the class trace an outline of our bodies on butcher paper and we also filled out a survey answering our favorite color, food, hobby, things like that. “What’s your favorite color?” really tripped me up because even at age 5, I had never considered what my favorite color might be – I liked all of them! So in a moment of near-desperation, I chose yellow, and stuck with that as my go-to answer until college. I’ve since reevaluated my favorite color – it’s now blue – and I think black and orange might be in this entry as well because they’re Giants colors? Who knows.
  9. The haka!!
    Per Wikipedia, “the haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.” I first learned about the haka on the Lord of the Rings special features DVDs (of course), when the stunt team performed one for Viggo Mortensen and Bernard Hill on their final day of shooting. Then, when I visited New Zealand in 2006, we spent part of our visit to the Auckland Museum viewing its famous Māori cultural performance, which included a haka – it’s absolutely electrifying to see one in real life. The one I’m including below is the New Zealand All Blacks national rugby team’s performance of “Ka Mate.” The All Blacks perform a haka before every match to intimidate their opponents.
  10. When plans work out perfectly.
    I’m known to stress out a lot about making simple plans with friends. On TV, when two characters are planning to get together some weekend afternoon and they don’t specify what time they’re going to meet up, I cannot handle it. I need to know not only what time we’re meeting, but exactly where (we’re meeting at the mall? Okay, but where in the mall? Outside which store? *furiously Googles a floor map of the mall*), when we’re meeting, what we might be doing after meeting up, and when we might be done. This used to be a lot worse – I’m slightly more relaxed about this now – but I fully understand why I included this item. When I don’t have to worry at all about making and executing plans, it’s a good day.
  11. Hatchet murdering essays!
    When I was a senior in high school, I had a lot of friends who were juniors who took AP English, as I had with the same teacher the year before. One week, their assignment was to have a peer edit their essay, and the quality of the edits would determine their grade. My friend gave me his essay to edit, and I went a little wild color-coding errors, writing extended paragraphs in the margins detailing what was wrong, and so, so much more I’ve probably blocked out by now. Anyway, instead of turning in the version I had edited, he turned in one lightly edited with pencil, making it look like there wasn’t much work to be done. He received a check (on a check-minus/check/check-plus system) – and then his teacher saw the version I had edited. She likened my editing skills to that of a “hatchet murderer” and gleefully told my friend that he would have received a check-plus had he turned in that version instead. Throughout that year, several people in that AP English class gave me their essays to edit for them, and I kept the moniker as the greatest ego boost I could have ever asked for.
  12. Never having to take math again
    Funny, because I did have to take a statistics class at Iowa for my psychology degree about a year after I wrote this list. But that was the only college math class I ever took (excluding AP Statistics, which I took in high school, though I did receive college credit for my AP exam score).
  13. The Olympic Games
    “Hey, Harrison! Harrison! You’re Olympic champion if you finish the fight smart!” – Jimmy Pedro on the sideline coaching Kayla Harrison, who overcame enormous adversity to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal in judo for the United States, men or women. video of the end of the match ]

  14. The Simpsons Movie
    My Instagram username is “clapforalaska” for a reason.
  15. Parkour
    I guess I watched a lot of parkour videos on YouTube, because there is literally no reason why else this might have been on the list.
  16. Being able to help those less fortunate
    Abortion funds forever.
  17. Mindfucks! (www.shitbrix.com)
    Smooth, Christine, including a LINK on your HANDWRITTEN LIST. (The website does still exist, by the way.) I think this was before I discovered the thriller genre, so now I can get my fix by watching movies or TV shows instead of looking at silly Internet photos of hidden creepy faces.
  18. Dancing the macarena to Kool and the Gang
    Every year when I was in high school (and then scattered years after that, if it didn’t fold sooner after I graduated), us in the music department had a chance to volunteer at Sonoma’s annual jazz festival. Freshman year, my friend and I ushered at the Mavis Staples/Isaac Hayes show, sophomore year another friend I worked parking, and senior year the jazz band – of which I was a part – got to perform every night on one of the smaller stages, which meant we also got free admission to the shows (Kool and the Gang, Herbie Hancock, Al Green, and so many more). My friend – the same one with whom I ushered – and I, in spite of not being the type of people to do so, took over the dance floor during the Kool and the Gang show and did the Macarena dance. I have no idea what possessed us to do it, but being children of the ’90s, I don’t think we needed a reason.
  19. Singing melismas
    A melisma is singing a bunch of notes on one syllable of a word, and Handel’s Messiah (which I spoke about singing previously) has some amazing ones. Listen on the word “born” in “For unto us a child is born” (especially the fun one us altos got from 2:18-2:27):
  20. Breathtaking photography
    For your consideration, my Flickr favorites list.

The city that never sleeps, but occasionally takes a sick day

(Possible emetophobia trigger – in text only – below.)

About an hour before I left Manhattan on Monday morning, bound for the antiquated-as-all-get-out LaGuardia airport, I read an article in the New York Times detailing the plight of the “sick passenger” (and those unlucky enough to share a train with them). Just as life imitates art, art imitates life: as I was preparing to get off the E, completing my final train ride of this trip, I heard the unmistakable sound of retching from the other side of the car. Before allowing myself to dwell upon it, I sped out of the just-stopped car as quickly as I could manage with a medium-sized rolling suitcase in tow.

Aside from that anecdote I wish I didn’t feel the need to tell, some good things happened on my weekend jaunt to New York, too. A lot of good things.

On Saturday, I passed the 50,000-word goal for this year’s National Novel Writing Month. While I have yet to actually complete my story, I believe this ties my 2009 speed record – 21 days – for reaching 50,000. Unfortunately, this means I am less motivated to complete it now, since I’ve been running on fumes for the past 10,000 words trying to reach the goal. But that’s what the month is all about: quantity, not quality. I have the rest of my life to aspire to the quality of work I expect of myself in any other circumstance.

To celebrate my achievement, I visited an overall Cute And Fun bagel shop in the general Gramercy Park/Stuy Town area (neighborhoods are AWFULLY CONFUSING when you’re not a local and the place in question is situated on the border between two of them – but I digress). I have to say, while I mentioned on Facebook that it was surprisingly my first NYC bagel experience that didn’t involve a Dunkin Donuts, the bagel I had was almost indistinguishable from the ones I inhaled regularly at Ultimate Bagel when I lived in Spokane. Which isn’t bad, necessarily – it just made me miss Spokane a little bit.

Saturday evening, after enjoying some (cheap!) Peruvian food, Lee and I (you remember Lee, don’t you?) headed out to Brooklyn to see Real Enemies, which I cannot accurately describe in my own words, so I’ll use BAM’s instead:

Bandleader and composer Darcy James Argue’s (Brooklyn Babylon, 2011 Next Wave) 18-piece big band Secret Society melds minds with filmmaker Peter Nigrini, writer/director Isaac Butler, and designer Maruti Evans to investigate America’s fascination with conspiracy theories. On projection surfaces teeming with found footage, live video, and historical texts, the narratives behind the Red Scare, the Illuminati, Edward Snowden, and alien sightings are meticulously examined and interrogated. Musical motifs from Argue’s exuberant score mimic the byzantine “everything is connected” inner workings of mass collusion to plumb the grassy knoll and give paranoia itself the probe.

You know how people say things are roller coaster rides of emotions? This was that, except more true than any time anyone has ever said it before. (Aside from this indescribability, I really just liked the music. Who knew professional musicians were that good at their instruments? I need to get out more.)

Later that night, I learned that there is a laundromat called Spin City at the corner where the protagonists of RENT live as we wandered around Alphabet City trying to find a suitable place to eat. We ended up at a diner with a health department “B” grade, chanced it, and didn’t die.

Sunday, I had the double pleasure of paying $16 to see a 2-D movie (Mockingjay Part 2, and I at least didn’t feel ripped off once I watched it) and having dinner with my NYC relatives (and Lee) at my aunt and uncle’s apartment. (The above photos were taken from their balcony.) I learned only that day that my grandparents didn’t know I was coming, so it was a really great time surprising them – especially my grandma’s reaction when she saw the person I came with was not the husband she had just watched me marry in July.

And then on Monday, I was an earwitness to a Sick Passenger, saw some ultra-casual (read: ultra-blatant, but thankfully nonviolent) racism on the part of the TSA, ate two Auntie Anne’s pretzels in two different states, and landed in Iowa, where I suddenly remembered that it gets cold and snows in places that are not New York, where it was a balmy 50 degrees all weekend.

I know I haven’t written here in several months, and I promise I have many solid (or at least “plausible”) reasons for that – being back in school, for one – but it seems like leaving Iowa every once in a while tends to help spike my creativity. If I had unlimited funds for travel…you know, I’ll just try my best to write more anyway.