Tuesday, October 31, 2006


For the past few days I have been very tired, much more so than usual. Yesterday, after teaching, I had planned to go the gym. But when I got home, after walking Mabel, I had to go to sleep. I slept for 90 minutes, and then by 10 pm I was back in bed. Now, at ten to seven in the morning, I could easily sleep another three hours. So odd, especially since normally I have such a hard time sleeping.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

don't count your chickens...

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

In addition to working on OEDIPUS I have been writing a trio for flute, viola and piano for the Monadnock Festival in New Hampshire. I am quite pleased with it so far, which is not something I am used to; I usually feel like I am going nowhere fast. Of course, I am superstitious in a way, and so I won't write another word about it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


in the rain
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Strange weather, like Chicago: pouring rain, then sun and wind, then scudding clouds, then more rain, then blue sky...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


My neighbor who suffered the aneurysm last week died late last night. I got the news as I was going out this morning to walk Mabel. Just yesterday I had been talking with some other friends of his, and we were thinking that maybe there was some hope; there had been a few promising signs yesterday. But maybe they were just his way of saying goodbye.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

so tired

trolley (II)
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I feel like this trolley car looks, worn out, rusted. I just want to sleep. I think--no, I know--that I am fighting off an incipient depression. I can tell because I am short-tempered, irritable, exhausted, feeling antisocial. I would like to disappear temporarily, til this passes. If I could sleep all day I would.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

what do I mean?

rock and flowers
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I wrote of John Dowland's songs that the melodies are "elaborate yet simple." Reading that now, I think, "what on earth does than mean?" Can something be elaborate and yet simple? I think not. Or perhaps it is possible. Sometimes language fails.

Last night I fell asleep before ten pm. I slept a long time, but Patsy woke me up every hour or so. She would cry in my ear, lie on top of me, knock something off of the desk in my bedroom. I was at the end of my rope. She is adorable and sweet, but sometimes I wish I could make her disappear.

Monday, October 23, 2006


old tree

I feel old today, mostly because I am very tired, and my knees hurt, and I have had an intermittent headache all day long. None of these things stopped me from doing what I had to do, though, and my day was busy. But now it is only 6:30 pm and I feel as though I could go to bed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

melancholy day

purple flowers (2)
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

This is one of those odd days during which I have very little interaction with other people. When I walked Mabel this morning it was still early and almost no one was out. No one I knew, anyway. Later, around noon, I went to the grocery store and there were throngs of people, families mostly, and I rushed through my errand because I felt acutely aware of how I was by myself, buying my meager bits of food for me only, going back to my apartment to spend the day by myself. I was quite tired for some reason--melancholy?--and so after I ate something I took a nap. I slept for almost 90 minutes, too long for a nap, and woke when my dream took a disturbing turn. I was looking at my mother's old white Rambler station wagon, but it was filled with dead leaves. When I woke I felt shitty and useless, but I cleaned up a bit and paid my bills. I talked to Y (he is in LA) and this made me feel more isolated still because he was tired and sort of wordless and so to compensate I talked too much and then felt like I was being neurotic and so I ended the conversation. As my melancholy grew the sky grew darker with clouds. I still have some work to do for tomorrow but I can't seem to get started. But I do not feel depressed. Just down. There is a huge difference.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I called my neighbor around noon today to see how T, who had the aneurysm, was doing. There has been no change since the emergency brain surgery Wednesday night. He is unable to breathe on his own and there is virtually no neural response of any kind. The prognosis is very bad. After I got off the phone I started to cry ferociously, but only for a few moments. My crying was like the storm I encountered driving upstate on Friday: brutal, fierce, short-lived, exhausting.


the red barn
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Yesterday I drove upstate. Early in my trip I encountered the most vicious rainstorm, with howling winds, so bad that I had to pull the car off of the road. It was scary. After it calmed down I resumed my drive. The road was nearly blocked in a few places by felled trees. Nature is powerful and mean sometimes.

The country was wonderful. I built a roaring fire, since it was quite cold. I read the entire time. I finished THE EMPEROR'S CHILDREN by Claire Messud. A former student of mine had reviewed it for the cover article of the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW, giving it a rave. I knew I had to read it. I couldn't even wait until it was returned to the school library; I bought a copy and read it voraciously. I could hardly put it down. It speaks of the transitions one makes from post-adolescence to adulthood; it speaks of transformations, of how reality is so mutable. It was beautifully written. The sensibility was almost Victorian, like modern Brontë.

I drove back today, in the mid-afternoon golden sunlight. My new car is like a sports car; it handled the twists and turns of the Taconic Parkway magnificently.

I relished my solitude in the country, and the stillness, the absolute quiet, and the stars in the sky at night. And Mabel was thrilled to run in huge circles and play with her friends the horses.

Friday, October 20, 2006

hello again

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am going to see my friends, the horses, upstate. I will leave this afternoon. I can't stay long, and will probably return late tomorrow or early Sunday morning. The leaves will have turned colors. I am told they are magnificent. Maybe I will build a fire in the fireplace.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Today was a difficult day. I slept fitfully last night and felt tired when I woke up. When I went out to walk Mabel an ambulance sat out front, lights flailing, pointing against the traffic (which meant it had come racing up my street going the wrong way on a one-way street) and the EMTs were loading my neighbor into it. He had a severe stroke and had somehow been able to call other neighbors, who had gone to his apartment immediately after calling 911. This evening he had surgery. He is a wonderful guy, ten years younger than my dad, a generous and kind man who always smiled when you saw him. I will see his smile again.

So, shaken, I had to finish AIFF files to send to my collaborators, so I mustered up my energy to do so. Then, half in a daze, I went to teach. I did so with manic energy, further exhausting myself. I came home, walked Mabel, and then went into Manhattan, to my brother's office in the Woolworth Building, to return the keys to his house. His office is in Johnny Cochran's firm; it is very nice, distinguished, more spacious and more posh than his former office. Then I got home around three and passed out for a while before waking up and moving the car at five.

I have felt a little crazy and a little tremulous today. Just two days ago I was thinking that it had been a long time since I felt my mood get whacked, and I think I jinxed myself.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

last one standing?

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

It seems that my fellow bloggers have faded away. I persist, stubbornly, as is my habit.

Something is happening to me. I had an appointment with the doctor last evening, so of course I left early so that I could take a romp through Barney's first. But I didn't buy anything! I am glad I still have the capacity to surprise myself.

Apropos my post regarding Sting, yesterday while doing some work in my department office I mentioned hearing it. Several of my colleagues had also heard it, and were equally repulsed. We are not a bunch of classical music snobs. We just recognize when a musician has crossed the line of musical decency. Sting recording the songs of John Dowland is like me recording the complete piano sonatas of Beethoven. I could do it, but why would I, when so many absolutely brilliant people have already done it? And my piano technique is far ahead of Sting's vocal technique.

Monday, October 16, 2006

as bad as it gets

Sting has released a recording of songs by John Dowland, a Renaissance composer. These songs are gorgeous, elaborate yet simple melodies accompanied by the lute. The problem is that Sting sucks, and hearing him sing them on WNYC this morning was horrifying. It is amazing how some singers are so full of hubris that they think themselves viable proponents of this music; the long lines of Dowland's melodies are very difficult for singers, and Sting lacks the control of his voice that this music requires. His intonation is ghastly, and the thin quavery quality is painful to hear. If you are a Sting fan, please skip this post. I will not convince you that he is lame. But he should stick to his own music.


Yesterday was a near-perfect fall day. So I walked. And walked. I was exhausted by the evening. I stayed up too late, and I am fighting off sleep now as I write this. I am still thinking about the top of Bear Mountain. It was so beautiful. But I am horribly afraid of heights, and watching people sit on those rocks, near the edge, freaked me out. I stayed back at least a few dozen feet. I always feel that if I get closer to the edge something will pull me over.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bear Mountain

mabel wants it
Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Yesterday I took Mabel and Y to the top of Bear Mountain. The weather was perfect. It was crowded. Mabel ate popcorn. Here she is, begging for some.

Friday, October 13, 2006


I have two pairs of Blundstone boots, the ones from Australia. They are indestructible, waterproof, comfortable, and I like the way they look. One pair is dark brown, the other--which I recently bought--is black. This morning as I stumbled out of bed in half sleep to walk Mabel, I put my boots on and took her outside. When I got back in, freezing, I noticed that I had one brown boot and one black boot on.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

zoom zoom

I picked up my car. It passed inspection with flying colors, and the mechanic checked it out completely and thoroughly and pronounced it in fine shape. He changed the spark plugs, and warned me before I drove away that it would be faster than it already was. He wasn't kidding. Zoom.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I scheduled an appointment to have my new car inspected. My mechanic approved of my choice of vehicle, which is a good sign. They set it up for inspection and said that they would look the car over thoroughly; they take a "holistic" approach, which works well, because they catch problems before they become big. So a few hours after I dropped the car off, the service manager called me and said that they were going to do the 30K mile scheduled maintenance. I told them to wait; he told me that they had to replace the spark plugs, which clearly had not been replaced at 30K miles (now the car has 34K). I called the dealer, because the dealer had told me earlier that the car HAD had the 30K service. The dealer said he would check with the service department there. Thirty minutes later the dealer called back. He said that they had done the service, but had FORGOTTEN to replace the spark plugs. This sounded sketchy to me. I called my mechanic and told them to go ahead. Better safe than sorry. The dealer just dropped a notch or two in my book. But car salesmen will tell you anything to get a sale, it appears.

river flows by...

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

Saturday and Sunday I was in PA. Y and I drove down Saturday morning while the sky was still overcast. Shortly after we reached Upper Black Eddy the sky cleared, the sun came out, and it was a beautiful day. It was cold, and colder in the house (the heat was out of commission). I loved sitting on the porch watching the Delaware River flow past. Mabel enjoyed being outside. Horribly, my cousin's dog attacked her when they stopped by, in the late afternoon. It was terrifying; the dog is huge, a pit-bull mix that was abandoned so that my cousin had to feed her from a bottle when she was a baby. Let's just say the dog has issues. Luckily Mabel was physically unscathed but definitely strung out. The next day, spaceman me drove a third of the way back to NYC before realizing I did not have my wallet, which had my car registration and driver's license, among other important things. I drove back to PA only to discover that the wallet had been in the car all along. I do stuff like that too often.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

back to the country...

I am going to Upper Black Eddy, PA, not far from where I grew up. My brother's house is there and he is letting me use it for the weekend. I want to walk in the woods, along the canal, and next to the river's edge.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I went to BAM last evening. Y's friend from Tokyo was visiting, and two other friends, H (artist, from Hiroshima) and DC (art world luminary) came over to Ft. Greene early. It had been DC's birthday a week ago, so we had a little celebration. I was quite tired, and our celebration activities did little to wake me up. Y lives around the corner from BAM, and so we walked over and got our seats. It was a dance performance as part of "Steve Reich@70." Reich turned seventy this year, and there are countless concerts all over the world. I met Steve Reich when I was in college. He came to lecture and I distinctly remember that he was testy and intense. The late Robert Middleton, my harmony teacher and a distinguised composer himself, asked a question--I can't remember it exactly but it was somewhat naive--and Reich got nasty. Later I taught his child, for many years, and saw Steve Reich regularly. He is down to earth, short-tempered, and extremely energetic. I think his music is important. He is by far the most interesting of the so-called "minimalists." Some of his music is stunning. I have no admiration for Phillip Glass's music, which is turgid and dull; John Adams is one giant cliché, but Reich has a great sense of color and form, and his music shimmers and jolts. It is both incredibly subtle and powerful. And you can hear, in his work, that he has worked extremely hard.

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, the choreographer and dancer from Belgium, presented FASE, a four-movement piece to four seminal pieces by Reich, all from his early period. The dance was beautiful, austere, mesmerizing. I was so tired that the mesmerizing quality became hypnotic and at one point I caught myself as I fell asleep, one of those moments when you feel your head falling and you jolt awake. The second half (or rather, third, since FASE was about one hour long) was a piece by Amir Khan. He danced with two other dancers, one from South Africa and the other from South Korea. They were accompanied by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Alan Pierson. I loved the music, which was scored for four vibraphones, double strings, and two pianos. The dance, which was supposed to be about three worlds interacting (the three dancers being "internationale"), but it seemed thrown together; none of the dancers were particularly interesting, and the musicians surrounding the stage area were more riveting, to me at least. All the dancers danced in a style that seemed a merging of "voguing", break-dancing, and tired old modern-dance moves. The dancers were excellent, though, as were the musicians. Too bad the piece didn't really swing.

Afterward I went directly home. I think I surprised my companions, who were most likely going to have a drink, but I was far too tired and I still had to do my laundry. I love going to BAM, though, much more than I love going to Lincoln Center or even Carnegie Hall.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

red glare

I had a horrible day yesterday. It started out fine. I moved my car (don't ask) and taught two classes. I had a two-hour break before my next student, so I went home and did some work, paid some bills, etc. Then I headed back to school to get some lunch (there is lunch for faculty, often quite good) and to see a piano student. When I walked into the faculty lounge a shrill voice screamed my name and proceeded to berate me. I won't go into the details but to say that there was a scheduling confusion, that I was supposed to be somewhere but had not been told, and that the person yelling is one of the most unpleasant people in the school. I have remarked before that I really like my colleagues generally. This person is an exception.

I was furious, although I betrayed nothing, and went off to attend to my responsibilities. Later on, after a very good meeting with an administrator who had actually witnessed the encounter, I felt better. And I know that the matter will be addressed with the screamer. I am utterly responsible in my work, and it is clear to everyone that I would not blithely ignore some assignment. But these things do not occur to the screamer. She treats us like we are children, bad children. It's a good thing I am a strong believer in karma.

But still that little episode just plunged me into a deep dark mood. Some people would let it roll of of them. But I already had little respect for the yeller, and to have her treat me as she did felt like an injury. I only wish the head of the school had been there to witness it. There would have been some real fallout.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

the verdict is still out

Originally uploaded by madabandon.

I am still not sure about my facial hair. I have passed through the itching stage, though, so it seems silly to shave now. I will let it continue. It does make me look older. But one friend said to me that "it looks more like you." I contemplate what that means, but I don't have an answer yet.

Monday, October 02, 2006


The ocean was beautiful yesterday in the mid-aftenoon sun. The waves were crashing powerfully though it seemed to be low tide.

my new car

Yesterday I drove to Jones Beach in the early afternoon, after the morning's heavy rain had passed. At first the car felt so strange; I am still not accustomed to its handling and fast reflexes. Y said it felt so much closer to the ground. I agree. But once settled, I enjoyed driving very much. It is quite speedy, something I am not used to, and it has a very high-tuned suspension so it is less pillowy than the Volvo. It holds the road quite well. Jones Beach was beautiful. Crisp cool fall air, blue sky, amazing clouds, roiling water, seagulls, few people. I will go back as often as I can.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Loaded Gun

Every fall the residents of my building get together and have a sidewalk sale. It is a good opportunity to sell stuff you don't need, and when the weather is good (as it was yesterday) generally it is enjoyable. For some reason, though, we didn't get the usual big crowds we have gotten in the past, and my solid-maple coffee table (purchased at the old Conran's at Astor Place many years ago) had no takers. I did sell a bunch of other stuff, though, and came away with about $150 cash. I felt flush, because I rarely carry that much cash around with me. It is amazing how people will haggle over a few dollars. I ended up selling a black leather jacket that I no longer wear (although it is a very good one) for only thirty bucks because I didn't have the stomach to haggle with the guy. After all, the the purpose for me was not the bottom line. I left the stuff I did not sell on a neighbor's stoop, and within one hour it was gone. I did take the coffee table back inside, though, for next year.