Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tempo Primo: First weeks in my college city

So it has been some weeks since I came to Toronto to study at the Glenn Gould School of Music, and time seems to have flown by. I have so much work to do, coupled with the predisposed anxiety of your typical noob in town. But everything is slowly piecing itself together bit by bit, and here I am, blogging.

In the past, I have many a time romanticized about leaving Vegas and starting a new life. But I must say, after finally getting my wish, the feels started to get to me. I was plagued with the crashing realization that time has gone by way too fast. It seemed just like yesterday since the end of August was eons away.

Due to the monotony of my everyday life, I couldn't wait for change. But I didn't realize how much I would miss that life, and how much anxiety would kick in about the unknown nature of my new life. My cat Ayu (who is practically the little sister I never had - no joke, though it may sound a bit corny) is living outside, and I worry about her every day. I will also miss the smell of my home, my piano and the state park next to my home, Red Rock Canyon.

On the upside though, it's not like I'll never see Vegas again, or that my reasons for wanting to leave have not been rendered void. In fact, they were quite real. I have always wanted to live in a big city, where there are a lot of things to do, places to perform, performances to attend, musical excitement, etc. This is what I've ultimately always wanted - a much-needed new chapter in the story of my life.

So far, I do not have any complaints. I enjoy walking to school, practicing and my classes. The only thing that gets to my nerves is that, because the basement at school flooded last summer, about ten practice rooms are out of use. The lounge is crowded with waiting students every afternoon that it may seem like we'll die of unemployment without a practice room. On second thoughts, I probably would...

So one day I came home and found out the dishwasher doesn't work. Even after calling a guy to fix it three times, I'm still washing my dishes by hand today, after three whole weeks. I have resolved to think that the electrician is a total nut-job, and the dishwasher is permanently defective.

Speaking of defective, this sitch reminds me of a particularly devious poem by one of my favorite childhood authors Hilaire Belloc, which is about Henry King, a poor boy who died because of a string fetish...



The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
“There is no Cure for this Disease.

“Henry will very soon be dead.”
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

Cried, “Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires…”
With that, the Wretched Child expires.

I guess my recent experiences with the dishwasher could be summed up in this little parody I came up with a couple minutes ago...


The Chief Defect of my Dishwasher's been
Never getting my Crockery clean.
At last, it's Motor broke and died,
Leaving Dirty Dishes inside.


Electricians of Nonexistent Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
"There is no cure for this disease.

"Your dishwasher will very soon go bust."
It's Renter stood about and cussed
Lamenting its Untimely Death,
When the Dishwasher, with its Latest Breath,

Cried, "Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Forks, Knives, Plates, Bowls, and Cups of Tea,
Are all the Dishwasher's Job requires..."
With that, the Wretched Appliance expires.


I guess what I love about poetry is that the writer has a license to do whatever one wishes to do. Killing is as easy as a flick of a switch (or the flick of a pen,  more appropriately), as is loving, hating, kicking, screaming and everything else under the sun that is considered taboo in some aspects by societal standards. The poem by Hilaire Belloc, titled Henry King, who Chewed bits of string and was cut off in dreadful agonies, was part of his Cautionary Tales for children, which detailed the dastardly life consequences certain children faced for supposedly not behaving well - offences such as not eating their greens, or playing with mud, or even being rewarded a balloon for good behavior. The consequences were harsh, like
being burnt to death, gored by a bull, or frightened into a panic attack. Note the fact that in the last poem, the exemplary Great Grandfather lost a leg three times in three different places.

At first, since I grew up reading these poems, the young me really believed that these stories were sermonizing the virtues of "good" behavior, and parents would be teaching their kids about this book. However, as I grew older and observed the morals more carefully ("literature breeds distress" and "little boys should not be given dangerous toys", and such), I realized that Belloc very eloquently parodied the value parents normally put on "good" and "proper" behavior, and how they often try to illogically discourage "bad" behavior, i.e. "if you eat a cherry pit, a cherry tree will grow on your head". Finally, after reading about Sarah Byng in the poem and the "moral" she learned - "literature breeds distress", I soon became convinced that,
 actually, morals breed distress. I mean, what's the point of threatening people into being "good" without their actually understanding why? It does work, no doubt, but entirely because of stupidity and fear. Never underestimate the power of both. In real life, it's the fear and startlingly sheep-like nature of humans that still keeps so many people buying into the "Obey thy parents/guardian/teacher/husband/pastor or God/Godzilla/the Flying Spaghetti Monster will strike you dead" rhetoric of religion, even today.


Also, the only poem Belloc wrote about a "good kid" - showed how by loving sums, speaking Latin, enjoying the greasiest sheep meat, and being a bona fide parent-pleaser, you too could marry the daughter of a rich man and live happily ever after. 

I now come to the realization that I've severely digressed. Yet another post went by that I haven't discussed anything to do with music in favor of quirky observations...