Friday, September 29, 2006

post the hundred and sixth

Now that the ringing in my ears has died down, I can sit down and write about this concert. I've also calmed myself down by playing Sigur Rós, so you won't have to worry about me raving about the concert and throwing in unnecessary superlatives.

That said, the concert was tremendous. It started a little rocky, but it was really good on the whole. The opening act (Simon Lart, or something like that) played a couple of solid songs at the beginning of their set, but I was done with them after about five songs. That worked really well for us, since they only played the five. After twenty minutes of waiting for Band of Horses to come on, though, another opening act walked on the stage. This was a guy (who neglected to introduce himself, incidentally; we'll call him "Chad") who played most of his instruments by himself. Anything he couldn't play was provided for him via a backup track. His music was pretty solid, too, but I was ready to be done with him pretty quickly, if only because I wasn't expecting to have to wade through two opening acts. He made my wait almost worth my while, however, by describing a fight that he'd had with a friend of his who had joined him on tour. The two of them had just been traveling for long enough and got in a fight about bananas or something. I forget exactly. At any rate, this friend (we'll call him "Eric") was supposed to join Chad on stage to play drums for him, but due to this fight, he refused to come up on stage. Chad couldn't well play the songs by himself, so he ended up playing the first half of a lot of his songs and describing how they would have ended if Eric had been on stage with him. He described one song as having a "proto-homosexual" ending. I don't know what that means, but it seemed intriguing enough. Another song would have involved trumpeters muting their instruments with balloons and showering confetti all over the place. I was under the impression that Eric only played the drums, but apparently he does it all. It would have been amazing. Alas.

Finally, Band of Horses made their appearance. They didn't actually take the stage until about 9.15, which was interesting because the concert was scheduled to start at 7.00. (I later realized that the doors opened at 7.00. We were there at 6.00, only to find that the bands were only just arriving then.) Another band, the Kings of Leon, was supposed to play at 8.00 in the same place. I have no idea if or when they started playing. As it was, we were offered tickets to their show for free by one of the members of the band. It turned out that the Stills were opening for them, which would have been exciting to see. We seriously considered it; we probably would have stayed had the concert not ended at 10.15. I wasn't thrilled with the idea of waiting until 11.00 to start a show an hour away from home.

I digress.

Band of Horses was fantastic. They're from Canada, and they looked the part. They were dressed in neat flannel and had fairly impressive beards. It felt like a bevy of lumberjacks were performing for us. It was pretty cool. What made the experience even more fun was that the band seemed to feel that performing live was still a novelty for them. They were really excited. They brought up a painting of what turned out to be a dog smoking a pipe with a shotgun behind it and placed it on the drum set. "This is Mr. Awesome," they informed us. We were all duly impressed.

I was most excited for them to play "The Funeral," and I wasn't disappointed when they played it. It had all of the driving energy that I was hoping it would live. (Even seemingly innocuous songs like "Wicked Gil" were impressive live, though. It was a solid show.) You should really be clicking on the link that I provided for you here. You'll appreciate this post more if you're listening to Band of Horses while you read about them.

The reason everyone was there, of course, was to hear "The Great Salt Lake." They were just as excited to play it as we were to hear it. Few things in my life to this point can compare to hearing Band of Horses play "The Great Salt Lake" while in downtown Salt Lake City. It was fantastic. Everyone in the 200-person crowd knew the words to the song and sang along. (Now if you find yourself falling apart, I'm sure I can steer on the Great Salt Lake. mmmmmm.) We gave them such a tremendous response to that song that they told us that we were cooler than Mr. Awesome. I was so proud.

All told, it was a fantastic show. Alyssa even got touched by the drummer on the small of her back. If that doesn't make it an experience to be remembered, I don't know what will. Anyone for the Guster show next month?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

post the hundred and fifth

Sufjan Stevens will be in Portland on October 13.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will be in Portland on October 7, along with Architecture in Helsinki and Takka Takka.

The Decemberists will be in Portland on October 17 and 18.

At least Band of Horses will be here on Thursday. I wish I was in Portland this month.

Monday, September 25, 2006

post the hundred and fourth

For those of you that have trouble with sudoku (the sport of kings), I present the following:

(thanks to Robert Poste for the graphic design. the concept, however, is all mine.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

post the hundred and third

This semester is going to be a busy one for me, I can already tell. I mentioned this earlier, but I have a lot of things going on in my life right now, and they're already starting to pile up on me. It's still September, for crying out loud. I can't imagine what December is going to feel like.

I felt optimistic (for lack of a better word) about this semester's prospects at first. I knew I was going to be busy, but that's not such a bad thing. I'm much better at organizing my time when I have a lot of things to do. This last summer drove that point home for me. I never felt any sense of urgency when the most pressing demands on my time were going to work and playing Kingdom of Loathing. I looked forward to a time in my life where I would be vastly more productive. It was going to be good.

In fact, it was good for the first day or so. I had three classes to attend and a lot of homework to do (mostly essays and reading - nothing too heavy), so I was planning on spending most of the day in the library. I spent the day bustling (I chose that word carefully, friends; "bustling" is the best word to describe what I was doing) from place to place, hurrying to get everything done. I felt a sense of fulfillment during the first part of the day, satisfied that I was being incredibly productive. As the day wore on, however, the feeling of fulfillment started to fade, gradually being replaced by a hollow, gnawing feeling in my chest. This wasn't something I was prepared for. I knew I was going to be busy, yes, but it was supposed to be a satisfying busy. I was supposed to feel gratified at the end of the day when I looked back and saw everything that I'd accomplished. No longer was I feeling good about what I was doing, but, just the opposite, I was feeling stressed. Harried. Frazzled (and that's another word that I chose carefully, dear readers). What was going on? What happened to my beautiful sense of accomplishment?

Within a few minutes, the gnawing feeling descended from my chest to my stomach, however, and I quickly figured out that it's difficult to feel a sense of accomplishment or self-worth when you're really hungry. I hadn't eaten hardly anything the whole day. No wonder I felt miserable. I think I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich or something and watched SportsCenter. Now there's fulfillment.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

post the hundred and second

Fall started at about 4:12 PM MST, Friday, September 15, but I didn't notice it until about ten minutes later.

I know there are more than a few of you out there who are looking at your screens with a dumbfounded look on your face saying something to the effect of, "Why, Optimistic., fall doesn't technically start until the 21st of the month. Haven't you heard of the autumnal equinox?" Yes, dear readers, I am aware of the equinox. I know fall hasn't started yet according to the calendar. However, when I went outside yesterday, it felt like fall, and I'm far more inclined to trust my feelings than a calendar when it comes to my perception of the seasons. As of about 4:12 yesterday, it's officially fall for me.

Describing what I mean when I say it "felt like fall" is something far more difficult than just proclaiming it to be fall, though. Something fells very different than summer when it switches to fall. Part of it, I think is triggered by the change in temperature. It was cooler and breezy yesterday when I realized that it had become fall, but somehow, the cooler and breezy feeling was inside me as well as on the outside. I felt crisp and brisk. I felt like autumn.

I felt, now that I think of it, the combined force of the memories of twenty-three autumns all at once. While walking toward work, I was suddenly struck by a vision of myself going to a Halloween performance at night in first grade. I don't remember any of the particulars of the performance (although a video tape documents me wearing a bunny rabbit costume), I do remember walking to my elementary school in the cool dark of a late October night in California with the smell of candy corn and musty construction paper wet with glue on the air. I didn't smell that on my way to work yesterday, but the crisp feel of an autumn breeze triggers that memory (and thus that smell) in my mind. To me, fall is an orange construction paper pumpkin soaked with a little too much Elmer's Glue.

Unfortunately, fall only lasted until about 6:45, when winter took over with the onset of a persistent drizzling rain. That was fast.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

post the hundred and first

Do you want to know what it feels like to be me?

Of course you do. Everyone does. Don't lie to yourself.

Find a hula hoop and a friend. Have the friend light the hula hoop on fire. Jump through the hoop several times, being sure that your friend kicks you each time. It might even help if your friend throws some clever insults in there, too.

I'm scheduled to graduate next April, and I've had to jump through an inordinate amount of hoops lately to get clearance to do so. (I'm still not all the way there, and I've been working on this for the better part of the last week.) I found out yesterday that I need the signature of my academic advisor from my college to graduate, so I headed up to his office at 9.15 this morning to get that taken care of. It was pretty clear that he really didn't want to be there, which had me a bit mystified. How hard can it be to look up a few things and sign my paper? Furthermore, how bad can it be if you're being paid to do so? Fortunately, I had enough cheer for the both of us, and I headed out with a signed form in my hand. Since I'm in the education program, however, I also needed the signature of my education advisor. I headed over to the education building to pick up that signature, confident that I was almost done with my work.

When I handed the form to my advisor, though, she looked a bit confused. She told me that I needed a similar form for my minor, which my history advisor should have given me. I've had problems with the history department before, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. I headed back to the history department, slightly irritated, but still glad that I was almost done. As you can imagine, though, I was far from it. The two secretaries at the desk seemed confused as to why they were even holding my minor form. They talked back and forth to each other about it for a while before they even realized that I was there to pick it up. Predictably, it was missing a signature that should have been on there months ago. Guess who got to go collect that?

So now I'm heading over to the Japanese department, more than a little irritated at the incompetence of the history department. Once there, I found out that I actually have one more class to take than I thought I did. I get to pile that on top of the classes I'm already taking, my licensure exam, preparations for student teaching, my senior thesis, and everything else I have to do right now. It's insane. I knew this year was going to be rough, but I had no idea just how nasty it was going to be. Assuming everything continues at the current pace (and I see no reason why it won't), I should finally get to breathe a little easy around December.


Monday, September 11, 2006

post the hundredth

I was going to post a picture in celebration of the event, but since I'm having some difficulty with Blogger (we're not on speaking terms right now), I'll just describe what I've found to you.

For those of you that are fans of sudoku as I am, this will be a special treat. I found something called a samurai sudoku, which is comprised of not just one 9x9 grid, but five of them. (Just imagine the beauty this implies. Or, if you don't want to imagine, just click here.) It's probably the coolest thing I've ever seen, and I've seen some pretty cool things.

Happy hundredth to me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

post the ninety-ninth

Have I mentioned how much I like this new apartment? It's a wonderful place to live. The location is excellent, too - campus is literally a three minute walk from my front door. Work is about the same distance. It's wonderful. Simply wonderful.

The only problem is that I feel really melancholy when I'm in my room, and I don't have the slightest idea why.

Before I get too far here, I want to remind all of my gentle readers that I'm really not as sad as you might think from reading my blog over the past week or so. Those not acquainted with me would probably think that I'm just a complete emotional wreck. Those who know me in real life know better. I'm still far from being chipper and smiley-happy, but I'm doing alright. (The eye twitch, shooting pains in my hips, and aching back might provide evidence to the contrary, however.) Seriously, though, I'm doing fine, and I appreciate all of the concern and comfort I've received from you. You're wonderful.

That said, my room does instill a sense of melancholy in me. I think this has to do with the positioning of my window. My window faces west, which allows for plenty of light to enter the room - especially when the sun is setting; it looks beautiful - which you'd think would provide a cheerful feeling. The problem, however, is that due to some factor beyond my control, almost no natural light come directly into my window. Maybe it's the tree slightly to the south of the window. Maybe I live in some sort of refractive vortex that prevents natural light from coming into my room. Whatever it is, though, the room always feels very dimly lit. There's light, of course, but it's dim enough that it reminds me of walking on an Oregon beach at about 6:30 in the morning. The sun is just coming up, yes, but it's from the east - away from the sea. The whole landscape has a cold, grey feel to it. The cold is literal - there's nothing warm about a beach that far north, and especially on the Pacific coast - but also figurative. Something about the grey gets inside you. You just feel chilly until the sun is properly up.

Now that I think about it, this makes an awful lot of sense. Of course I'm feeling melancholy if my room reminds me of the Oregon coast. I spent one year in Oregon before I came to school here, and I spent it miserably. While I made the best of it (I am an optimist, after all), it still wasn't pleasant. I was glad to have made it out of there when the time rolled around for me to come to school. Most of my Oregon memories involve me walking to school in the drizzly, misty rain, staring up into the cold, grey sky and listening to the Radiohead album that convinced me that I had something to keep me going, after all. (The song I most frequently listened to from that album? Why, "Optimistic," of course.) That year in Oregon felt - and still feels, to me - morose and downtrodden.

Wow, maybe I should just spend my time in the library instead. I'd just turn on a light, but I hate turning on the lights this early in the day. It's barely after 3:00 right now. Who turns on the lights at 3:00?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

post the ninety-eighth

You're not going to get the full effect I want you to get out of this blog post unless you read it in the dark. I'm serious. Turn off the lights wherever you are. Get somewhere dark. Close the windowshades. Block out the light with something solid if you have to. It needs to be dark when you read this, or you're not going to fully appreciate what I have to say.

Is it dark yet? I'm not even kidding about this. Turn off the lights.

It's 1:15 on a Saturday night. It's been a good day for me. I've moved into my new apartment about a week ago, and now that all of my roommates are finally here, we've been able to start putting things away. At long last, the apartment is starting to come together. Robert Poste and I have been working on our room particuarly, and it finally looks like an actual room. We also attended a friend's birthday/housewarming party tonight. I got to see some people that I haven't seen for a long time. Some of them lived right near me for the last several months, but I rarely saw them because I was purposefully shutting myself away from society. (In retrospect, this was a poor idea. I really shouldn't have sacrificed other social connections in favor of a relationship. Lesson learned.) I got to enjoy the company of others and the experience of flirting again, which I haven't done in a long time. Fear not, gentle readers who were at this particular party. Although I was probably flirting with you if you were female and at this party, rest assured that it wasn't necessarily because I feel particularly romantically attracted to you. It's just been a while. I needed the practice. (If you happen to feel a particular romantic attraction to me, though, feel free to shoot me an email and we can discuss particulars.) We all got home at about 10:30, at which point we went back to unpacking things. All told, it was a successful evening for me. I felt good about how I'd spent my day. After watching an epsiode of The Simpsons with Robert Poste, I reached for the light switch from the top of our bunk beds and we both settled down to go to sleep.

Suddenly - and I mean this very literally, since most people use "suddenly" as a generic transition - a wave of terror swept over me. This is something that doesn't happen very regularly to me, as I'm not given to panic attacks, so I took particular note of this.

My room is neatly tidied and organized, with a few exceptions. I have most of my books that I need for my classes (which start on Tuesday). My roommates are all back in town. From that standpoint, you'd think that I'm completely prepared for the new school year. You'd be correct to think so. What you're not considering, though, and what I didn't consider, is that I'm completely unprepared for this new shift in my social life. While the new room is nicely organized, it's still new, and that's what scares me. I've made a huge transition in my life - one that I didn't think I was going to make until next year, when I graduate and head off to take a teaching job somewhere. (That scares me too. More on that later, perhaps.) I think the neat new room nicely symbolizes what the prospects of this year feel like for me. Everything's ready to go, but it's not familiar to me at all. I'm in a new social situation with new people I'm not familiar with (nor am I particularly excited to become familiar with, but that's just my prejudices running away with me). All of the people that I got to know so well this last summer are, for the most part, out of my life, and perhaps to stay. I've recognized that they're all leaving me over the last few months, but it's really been driven home for me lately. Everything's starting anew for me.

I have a hard time believing that there are people out there who actually like change. I hate it. I really don't like jumping into new situations. I've been a lot better about it lately, at least on the surface, but to be perfectly honest, I'd much prefer it if things stayed the same for me. I know that's not the way to grow, but it's the easy way, and I would prefer things to be easy rather than to be growing opportunities. (What human being wouldn't?) I'm sure this will help me develop into a better person, and, perhaps more importantly, help prepare me for what my life will be like in a year when I move somewhere else (regrettably, likely alone) and jump into a whole new phase of my life.

The fact of the matter, though, is that it's intimidating and more than a little scary to me. The dark does that. Everything is scarier in the dark, no matter what anyone else tells you. It might be childish to say that I'm afraid of the dark, but I am. I'm always the least emotionally stable when it's dark out. That's why I insisted on writing (and you reading) this post in the dark, so it would feel the same to me. I won't feel like this in the morning. No one ever does. Worries and anxieties like this disappear with the rising of the sun. The lack of familiarity that I feel, though, won't. It's going to take time to adjust to this, and until I do, nights in my perfectly organized room are going to be scary.

Feel free to turn the lights back on now.

Friday, September 01, 2006

post the ninety-seventh

Last night at about 1:00 I managed to inadvertently delete everything in my iTunes library from K on. Everything.

Fortunately, I have those 90 data discs that I mistakenly burned, so I should be able to get most of it back, but still, wow. I can't believe I did something that amazingly stupid. I may be contacting some of you to get back some of the music that I lost forever.

That, and my back is still killing me. When it rains, it pours.