paper boats

There’s one thing I think of when I think of paper boats, and that’s happiness.

With that said, I’m very sorry for not visiting blogs and returning comments, or even posting new blogs of my own. But sophomore year is turning out to be a lot busier than I thought, what with all my music classes and reading and practicing I have to do every day, on top of other responsibilities, that it’s really hard to make the time commitment to just sit down and post stuff and return comments. I’m very sorry about this, and though I’ll still be posting now and then, less frequently, I’ll be back in December.

Of course this makes me feel very sad, because blogging is something that’s been very near and dear to my heart for a while. Thank you for staying with me this summer. This is a journey, and I’m glad you could take it with me.

Of course everything will resume December!

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It started out as a feeling…

I’m sure that by now, everyone who’s been following my blog for a while knows that I absolutely love Regina Spektor. If I were a guy, I think I would want to marry her. Her song lyrics are pure magic, and I could probably listen to her all day and not get tired of her amazing voice. Getting a new CD of hers is like opening a box of chocolates: there’s so much wonderful stuff to fall in love with. What song lyric of hers will wind itself in my mind and play itself over and over again and again until it turns itself into a blog post? There are so many possibilities.

So many, that she has her own blog category.

This is a love affair that began the moment I heard “The Call” on the Prince Caspian soundtrack. Absolutely awful movie, which was somewhat redeemed by the inclusion of some Regina Spektor (and Switchfoot’s “This is Home” as a matter of fact. Check it out). I, uh, downloaded it illegally because I had no wish to pay 10 dollars for what would have just been one song (album only? Are you kidding me?). I still wish she’d record it on a new CD or something so that I could officially buy it. (This is the only song that I’ve downloaded illegally. I suffer guilt from this memory, but not enough to pay the requisite 10 dollars.)

It started out as a feeling,
Which then grew into a hope.
Which then turned into a quiet thought,
Which then turned into a quiet word…

Picture from etsy. Song is "Time is All Around," one of my favorite "new" Regina Spektor songs.

“The Call” lead to “Laughing With,” which led to “Fidelity,” which led to… a love affair with any Regina Spektor song I could get my hands on.

The other day, I decided to search on Etsy with the term “Regina Spektor.” And I found some pretty amazing prints! I don’t think my devotion to her music stretches so far as to buy a keychain with Regina Spektor’s face on it, or a key rack like the one on the left, but I’m perfectly willing to buy several amazing Regina Spektor song-inspired prints for the house that I will probably only get in like twenty years.

First, there’s Lisa Chow, an artist/illustrator based in Texas. I love the style of her ink and watercolor drawings — they’re so whimsical! She’s doing a print series called “City of Love” wherein she draws a picture inspired by and named after a song lyrics snippet that the print reflects. Her blog can be found here.

And without further ado, here’s her “Two Birds on a Wire” print.

I love those little red hearts! “Two Birds” is probably one of my favorite Regina Spektor songs. So much so, that I wrote a blog post about it some time ago.

Here’s another print, titled “Hero of this Story.”

Again, the little hearts are so lovely. Probably my favorite out of the two, honestly. I do like the city, though I probably couldn’t stand to live in it forever. This print makes me think of freshman year in college where I lived on the 8th floor of a dorm and I had the most amazing view of the city.

The song it refers to, “Hero,” is on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack. I’ve never watched the movie. I do like it, though not as much as some of her others. It’s pretty sad.

I think this next one is my favorite Regina Spektor themed print of all, though, in terms of sheer cuteness and heartbreaking melancholiness (and I’m surprised the latter is an actual word). Painted in watercolor by artist Jordan Lynn Gribble, the print is made up of four small paintings also inspired by the Regina Spektor song “Two Birds.” Which I’ve already mentioned is one of my favorite songs by her, ever.

It does make me feel so sad for the little bird, though.

I think part of the reason I love Regina Spektor so much is that she can find such beautiful, expressive words and phrases to form feelings that are very very real. Her songs are at times sad, nostalgic, regretful, and questioning, but wonderfully alive at the same time. I’m not sure how I can put it better.

I also love how they’re so offbeat. Who would make dolphin noises in a song? Who else but Regina would write a love song using such terms as macaroni computers or hours out of cupboards or little stone hearts?

Or sing about meat markets and helium balloons and orca whales and yet give listeners the sense that these songs are so true to life?

PS: For more Regina Spektor love from me, check out here, here, here, and what is probably my favorite Regina Spektor blog post that I’ve written.

Pictures are from Etsy sellers.

God Bless America

God bless America.

Not because we deserve it. But because we need grace. Not because I’m happy with what America’s done, past, present, and future, but because I think we can be huge idiots.

Even though I would shake my head at many of the things that we’ve been involved in, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we should be given up on altogether.

It’s been nine years since that ugly, ugly reality. God bless the victims, their families, and our troops.

And America.

Pictures from Flickr Creative Commons

Making Art

My writer friend April lately wrote a blog post about hobbies.

She stated that many of her friends have hobbies and other things they love to do outside of their day jobs. For example, her husband (congratulations to her on her recent nuptials, by the way!) is a woodworker who makes boxes, articles of furniture, wine stoppers, even candlesticks. He takes the wood and finds the beauty in the wood, the “colors and shades and swirls and designs” that is present in the bark of the tree, and coaxes it out, making it into something that is both beautiful and serviceable.

Then she wrote about something that struck her as someone who wants to become published:

Everyone acknowledges the work it takes to grow a successful garden or knit a winter scarf or restore an old rocking chair. But people who aren’t writers assume it’s easy. They assume it’s a non-issue. We just pound out words in the form of a story. Anyone could do that.

I agreed. I feel as if people don’t realize just how hard it is. Just sit down and pound out some words — how easy is that?

But then I realized…

The hard part is not getting the words down, but making it art.

It’s never going to be an issue for me to write down words. Most people can string words together to make sentences, and string sentences together to make paragraphs. Whether those sentences or paragraphs make sense together or even alone is a different matter. It’s easy to understand the concept of writing down an idea or statement.

I could always write down words on a piece of paper. But to make those words something people can feel, identify with, and enjoy — to make those words simply understandable — is something that takes a great deal of skill. A great deal of skill that may take years and years to learn. A skill which even now I am learning, and will continue to learn for the rest of my life.

It’s similar with music. People think it’s so easy to just sit down and play a tune at a piano. Anyone can look at notes and plink them out on the keys — how hard is that? I have friends who believe that being a classical musician, or learning to be one, is easy because all you have to do is read music and play the notes right. To them, it doesn’t seem to be a hard area of study because all one has to do is look at the sheet music and simply follow the composer’s instructions.

Not hard, is it?

You’d be surprised.

But it’s not at all about that. There’s expression, articulation, the way a cadence has to be ended just right, the push and lift of the pedal in between chords, so many things. So many things that go into making a piece of a music more than mere sounds, but something that can touch the soul and lift the spirit and to put it in the words of an old cliche, make the world into a better place.

It’s not just reading forte or piano and thinking to yourself that you have to play it loud there, and soft elsewhere, though dynamics are important. It’s not just looking at the tempo and playing it at that tempo, though that is good as well. It’s going deeper than what is written and feeling what the music is really about: gratitude and humility and emotion and a reply.

Things which can be so easily forgotten.

The hard part is not getting the words down or the notes right, but making it art.

Pictures taken by me. Not to be used without permission.

Flower Study

I saw this flower lying on the street and tried to photograph it. I’m very amateur so please forgive the quality of the pictures.

It looked kind of sad… I wonder who had left it there.

Tried to get a close-up shot of the petals…

I rather like the lighting in this next one… and I think it is my favorite. The petals looked as if they were glowing, and I tried to capture that.

And finally. Poor flower.

It makes me wonder further. Have you ever seen a seemingly random object somewhere and felt compelled to make up a backstory for it? Because I’m really curious as to how this flower got there. There weren’t any flowers of the same type growing anywhere around.

Maybe some guy offered a girl a flower and she was disgusted and rejected it. But not before ripping some petals out. God, that’s awfully depressing. Or maybe some guy offered a girl some flowers and one fell and they didn’t notice?

What do you think?

Lastly, please don’t use these pictures without my permission.

Memories

I’m making lists again. This time it’s one of memories of the Atlantic Music Festival, my first music festival ever, and one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was hectic at times, practicing and getting ready for lessons and concerts (I actually only had one of the latter), but I think I want to go back next year if I can rob enough banks and mooch enough money off my parents and grandparents.

And of course, if I can improve my musicianship.

But the best things that strike me about this music festival is the memories. The little things that happened. The funny things people said that became inside jokes.

In the end, it was a truly inspiring experience.

So here are some of those little memories, in no particular order.

1. Going to McDonalds and waiting at least a half hour for a taxi.

2. Midnight games of Jenga aka Jumbling Towers, accompanied by cookies, chips, and alcohol (which I didn’t drink much of).

3. Stealing cookies from the dining hall for said midnight games.

4. Playing (or in my case listening to) string quartets played just because. And then getting four emails afterwards from administration because of complaints about the noise.

5. Waiting until 10 PM for the practice room sign-up sheets.

6. Amazing concerts.

7. Running around campus taking pictures with a borrowed camera, set to macro lens.

8. Fighting the field hockey camp for food and ice cream every meal.

9. The ice cream party after the last student piano recital. Blueberry ice cream with gummy bears, and taking goofy pictures of each other.

10. FAIL.

11. Solomon dude.

12. Sheridan Seyfried’s Sextet. No. Words.

13. Church bells suddenly echoing while a piece dies away. Quite magical.

14. Friendships.

15. The opera people singing a rendition of the Magic Flute to thank the cafeteria people on my very last night…

And above all, a reply.

This is how I work.

This is how my screen looks when I’m working on a new blog post.

Click for large size

Having everything cluttered like that makes me feel busy, I suppose. In some sick way.

And I love Regina Spektor. Haven’t bought this song yet, which is why I’m listening to it on Youtube. I work pretty well listening to music, unless I’m having trouble with something, or need to get my thoughts more together. Or if I have to finish something before I go to bed. Then the music goes off.

Sometimes I collect ideas in a Word document before I type the blog post out into WordPress. I’ve been doing that a lot more lately, especially with longer, more research-consuming posts. At least I call it research. I usually have more than one WordPress window open when I’m blogging, though, because I want to check comments and see my stats.

If I’m doing a picture-heavy post, the corners of the screen get covered with picture files, downloaded from Flickr under a Creative Commons license. Blurred some of them out for obvious reasons.

What does your screen look like when you work?