dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
Girlfriend asks the hard questions. Posted in the order i answered them, so not in numerical order.

2. If you were cast to act in a play, what part would you like to play? [In this magical question, you have your own age and whatever looks and skills you need for the part].

Enjolras in Les Misérableswould be fun, especially in the French version, as it has better lyrics. Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music would be fun too. Georges/George in Sunday in the Park with George would be nice. Many others would be great fun too, but those three immediately pop to mind.

3. What mental trick or system do you use for remembering the geographical details of (seemingly) every place that you have ever lived?

Lifelong habit, love of the land, lots of time out of doors, and a deep caring about what the roads/paths are and where they go.

4. What does your metadata contain?

I'm not at all certain how to go about answering this. I know what metadata is, but, i'm still at a loss. Anyone?

ETA: In comments, [livejournal.com profile] dpolicar said,
So, I guess I would unpack that question as "What ought one know in order to sensibly interact with you?"

Or perhaps "What cues, accurate or otherwise, do you provide about your contents?"
to which i replied:
My brain was wanting to go that way, so i'll try -- that's exactly the kind of open-ended question i'm not good at, as it's requesting data that i do not by default discuss, unless asked a specific question. I'll edit a fuller response into the entry.
So, here goes.

As i said, i do not by default, talk much about myself, unless asked directly. I have a deep-seated worry that everyone hates me, though i know quite well that's not true. I like direct communications, as i tend to completely miss subtly, though not as completely as when i was younger. It's okay to tell me to stop/shut up when i'm going on and on -- don't allow me too much sugar nor alcohol. Too much of one or the other, and, as a dear friend puts it i'll "have enough conversation for everybody". My interests are varied.

If i'm in a group, and being quiet, it is appropriate to come up and talk to me -- i'm much shier than most people perceive me. I'm loyal, and value my friendships deeply. I alway assume the best in people until they prove me wrong. I revisit opinions and reform them over time.

I sometimes don't see the trees for the forest. I like a high level of organization, and am in a better mood when i create and maintain that; the more mess around me, the worse my mood and the lower my motivation to correct that. I need help with that -- even if it's just someone present to talk with, and provide mild assistance as needed.

I'm bad at asking for help, if much better at it than in years past. Ask me if i'm floundering or if you might help if it seems to you i need it.

I will always do the best i can with the information i have available. It does not always occur to me that information is lacking if it is not really obvious.

I am truthful, and expect others to be so, too.

During the background investigation for my job at Customs and Border Protection, i got a bunch of phone calls along the lines of The investigator asked me n, and i had to say that i didn't know, because you never talk about that. I've known you for decades, why don't i know that?. Always, the answer was, You never asked. That relates to the I generally do not talk about myself. I'm good at telling people enough that they have a clue, but in the end, don't always know everything, as i don't see them as needing to know, though i'll often tell if asked, within reason and need-to-know, if that makes sense.

Relatedly, i always tell people to feel free to ask me anything, but the heavens help you, as sometimes you may get a core dump, and it surprises me what questions will trigger that.

As someone who dosen't really talk about himself, i was surprised to notice the number of deep-sharing personal essays i've posted here -- there's a Personal Essays tag for those entries.

I drive [livejournal.com profile] tomhundleyrn a bit batty sometimes. I don't try to, it just happens. Um, i think that's all.

5. What is your current favorite recipe?

This is hard. I've been leaning Chinese in my cooking, aiming successfully for high wok hai/savory/umami in flavor, for the most part. I've made a lot of Espinacas a la Catalana (Catalan Spinach) of late -- as a side dish, or as a bed for eggs or other things. I turned out a lovely gazpacho the other day. I've made a ton of savory pasta dishes of late, too. So, in summary, i'm not quite sure.

1. What would your ideal workday consist of if you had a job that used all your talents and abilities in ways that were fulfilling to you?

*Thinks back through many years of working*

Hmmm... I like jobs that require problem-solving. Customer/client interaction is a plus -- i really, really like having people thank me for explaining why they may not have something and/or for telling them no in polite, flowery language. I genuinely enjoy helping people. I like working in environments that are team-based, but allow a lot of personal leeway in accomplishing tasks, with open communications and flow of information. Not that everyone need know everything, but there should be no secrets that make people fearful/uncertain, and all should have the information they need to accomplish their task completely in a supportive, cooperative environment.

Supervising people is fun -- the team building, the mutual support, the setting up of systems to aid the flow of information in both directions, the mentoring to help people grow and advance, the putting out of fires, the balancing of the needs those under me with those above me, and inspiring those under me to achieve what is needed both for those over me and for those under me to flourish.

Data analysis is nice, too -- finding the trends, surprises, or what; breaking the data down in different ways to see what may surface.

So, specific task less important to me than environment, ability to grow, and ability to move up.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
Yeah, a meme. Comment with a citrus fruit, and i'll endeavor to come up with 5 for you.

1. Who is your oldest friend (as in "friend you known the longest" not "age oldest")? How did you meet?

Beverly B. We met when we were four. We lived in townhouses, and were allowed to play in front of our row +/-1 row. We met in the grassy area in front of the row of houses between our respective rows. We went to grades k-3 together, then her family moved nearby; we kept in touch, had sleepovers, went to middle school together, different high schools, colleges. We talk on occasion at this point, but each time is like we were talking just yesterday.

2. You come across as being quite the polymath. Do you believe that tendency is something one is born with or can people choose to take that path?

I like learning for the sake of learning -- always have. Fairly young, i realized that having a broad, if shallow knowledge of lots of things is useful conversationally. Of course, deep knowledge in several areas is required, else one would look foolish over time. I do think many people can choose that path; at least i know many people who are like that, and all most have chosen and/or evolved that way.

3. You have a day all to yourself--just you and no one else. What do you do? Would you do something different if you had a week of just your own company?

A day -- sometimes i'll read. sometimes i'll cook/bake. sometimes i'll head to the river or up into the hills and go for a hike; usually river if alone, though -- going to the hills, though near, is more fun with at least one other, though i've done it alone when i need a solid grounding in nature.

A week -- some laundry and cleaning. Maybe a random night or two away from home visiting someone in another place w/in about a 3 hour drive. When i have money, i've been known to fly somewhere for a few days. I tend to do a lot of hiking/running in the woods when i have the time.

4. If you could go back to school to learn anything, what would you pursue?

Computational Linguistics.

5. Where do you think your "foodie" side comes from?

Well, food is central. One must feed and water one's guests. Food is meant to taste good, and be enjoyed.

Some from family -- fresh food is important - we grew our own vegetables and caught our own fish. Plus, when we were 12 and 9, my sister and i insisted that artificial colors and flavors be eliminated from our diet. We both think that red 40 tastes disgusting, and we both dislike the taste of green colorings too. People that say artificial food color has no flavor lie; this is most of why i don't like red velvet cake, and why neither of us eats green-colored ice creams.

Some from peers. I shared housing with a friend from HS back in our college days. Each week we had a dinner party, and we worked hard to serve a cuisine that we'd never cooked before each time.

Some is just in me. I care deeply about the food i eat in terms of freshness, flavor, and quality. It's not that i never eat crap, not at all. But left to myself, i don't eat a ton of snacky things - i don't even keep them on hand.
dcseain: (Me Headshot 20090215)
As you can see in my profile, i attended Dale City Elementary School in Dale City, Virginia. You can also see in my profile that i attended the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, where i first met [livejournal.com profile] tomhundleyrn.

Recently, on Facebook, i reconnected with some peolpe i grew up with. As i stated in that post, we were very blessed in our growing up years, not least in that those of us who remained as the neighbors were transferred around us every three to five years, got along to the point that we're still in touch.

Come grade 6, those of us from Dale City Elementary were combined with the students from nearby Bel Air Elementary (which school the youngins in the neighborhood i grew up in attend today) and Neabsco Elementary found ourselves all together at Mills E Godwin Middle School, where we would be together for 3 years.

As some of you know, i've always been, or at least felt, a bit of an outsider, while at the same time having wonderful, supportive friends and family, and moving with relative ease as needed between groups. I've gotten over the outsider feeling as i've grown older, in part due to good career and job choices and in part due to learning to realize the advantages i have in my culture as a white male. Well, the rich social life i have helps, too. :)

As Middle School progressed, i felt more and more isolated - again plenty of friends and an active social life, but that does not preclude feelings of isolation. As 7th grade drew to a close, i was feeling simultaneously reasonably well liked and at the same time like most were really only tolerating me.

I remember when my guidance counselor talked to me about applying to Jefferson, and talking to me about what the school would be all about. So, thanks to the guidance counselor, i applied to be in the 1st class at the new magnet school.

I chose to apply in part to escape from the social situation i felt and in part because i was bored silly in school. Dad was still ambulatory and going to work as i embarked on the application process, though his speech had begun to slur, and his physical reaction times were slowing. I was terrified of getting into the car with him driving, but he drove me to all the testing sites i needed to get to take my exams to get into the school, including North Stafford High School in Garrisonville, VA, and West Springfield High School in Springfield, VA. He was very, very, very supportive of my attending that school. Mom, on the other hand, was opposed.

Anyway, coming back to were i was at the beginning, reconnecting with people on Facebook. I've been very surprised - in a good way - by people that have reached out to me there, which helps put into perspective my feelings of isolation and what back in middle school, and makes me wonder how much of that relates to my shyness, which is deeper than most think, despite my cheery, outgoing public face.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
1. Chamber Music
The other day i told you a bit about me and music, complements of five from [livejournal.com profile] badmagic. So, i started studying violin at age 9, when i was in fifth grade, in my last year at Dale City Elementary School. Grade six found me at Mils E Godwin Middle School, studying under M. Trowbridge, who is retiring this year. I'm performing at the retirement concert in June of this year.

The Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association (VBODA) sponsors Solo & Ensemble - a blind-judge competition on a regional basis. When i was growing up, Districts 9 & 11 were one unit, today they are separate; i grew up in District 9, and went to HS in District 11. Results from Solo & Ensemble lead to applying for Jr (middle school) or Sr (high school) regional orchestras.

Mr Trowbridge referred me to M Hall, who became my private tutor for several years, and starting in Grade 6, i participated in Solo & Ensemble and Regional Orchestra. I won consistent awards for my playing from then through graduating, both solo & in ensemble. En ensemble, i was in a string quartet or quintet through middle school and part of HS.

I'm classically trained in violin and viola, as you may have gathered. I have extensive orchestral experience, both in string and in symphonic orchestras. I enjoy orchestral playing a lot, and enjoy orchestral performances. But, it is en ensemble chambre that i am most at home. I love the intimacy of playing with the smaller group - the deeper mutual cooperativeness it breeds, the deeper insight into the roles of the instruments generally and with in a piece it reveals, the flexibility of instrumentation it allows.

Let's look at a piece that most everyone knows and likes, and most musicians i know play but hate, is Pachelbel's Canon in D, or properly, Canon and Gigue in D major for three Violins and Basso Continuo.
With two violins, a viola, a cello and/or bass, we perform as written. With a violin, two flutes, and a viola, the viola part is dropped, the flutes and violin take on the violin roles, and viola picks up the cello/bass part. A trio of violin, viola, cello yields Violin I, Viola, Cello.

In a chamber group, at least in rehearsal, players may swap parts to gain better understanding of timing or parts where you will see revealed how your part should be louder/softer/faster or what.
And in a chamber group, there's a bit more time for silliness, which is always a happy.

Starting in 9th grade, i paired up with Buffy Beverage, a cellist for chamber work. We had various violinist with us through the years. We performed all of us for 5 years. I do so miss Buffy, though i also have a wee bit of frustration in knowing that her death resulted in part due to her mismanaging, or not managing, her diabetes. Ah well, i enjoyed my time with her on this plane, and am sure she is well where she be.

In attending a chamber group performance, usually the venue is smaller and more intimate. As an audience member, you not only hear the music, you see the camaraderie of the musicians, get to see who the lead player within the group is - the one to start the playing and guide the others as needed.

Here in Washington, DC, the National Gallery of Art, for 67 years now, has maintained a schedule of concerts, usually of chamber groups, in the Garden Court of the West Building. The concerts are on Sunday evenings, and are free. One of the many, many, many free cultural gems that we here in DC have the benefit of.

As most of you know, i'm a Unitarian Universalist with Friend(Quaker) leanings. CUUPS is the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, a group that is no longer affiliated with the UUA, the Unitarian Universalist Association. The UU congregation with which i was last affiliated, the wonderful UU Church of Silver Spring, MD, does not have a CUUPS chapter, but rather has Gaia Circle, a member-led pagan group. As a result, though i'm sure they're a fine organization, i have no personal experience with CUUPS aside from knowing they exist.

3. Dadaism
De do, do, do, de da, da, da is all i have to say to you. Wait, no, that's not it. This movement, along with surrealism, make me happy. That is all, for now. No reason, just happiness.

4. España
In grade 8, was sent off to Spain. My Spanish accent and usage solidified there. I speak Castillian with a ceceo - meaning lisped - accent. I was there just as my dad was diagnosed and beginning to fail physically. It was there, for the first time in months and months, i could forget about that. There i saw the breathtaking beauty that is La Valle de los Caídos, which despite the controversy round its construction, is a beautiful and fitting memorial. There i met Sonia, with whom my friends and i danced the zarzuela and tarantella and played crack-the-whip in the plaza where Bar Carlos V was in 1984, and may yet be. There spent i 8 hours in the airport in Palma de Mallorca because ETA terrorists blew up the TWA office across the street from where we lived in Madrid, and next to the Burger King where we sometimes ate lunch. But for that vacation, we too might have died in that bombing. There, in i think it was El Corte Inglés, E bought that lovey white skirt with the black pinstripes and the pink and blue polka dots that i still remember fondly.

There i spent a couple weeks in Barcelona, a beautiful and vibrant city that i feel rolls together the best of New York City and Washington, DC. Walkable, with palms in the harbor and along Las Ramblas, and cacti in a garden on the mountainside of Montjuïc. Something to do 24h day in a reasonably compact, nicely walkable city. I'd like to go back there, as last i was there Sagrada Familia as yet had no roof, and its spires were still not all complete, yet it was stunning in the way that Gaudí's buildings and works always are. Barcelona, as Montreal, are places i feel at home in as DC, which says a lot about both places, at least to me.

I remember the barren desert plain of La Mancha, flat, grey-brown and empty but for the occasional olive grove or vineyard. I remember the tiny, medieval streets in Toledo, which still then looked enough like El Greco's Vista de Toledo as to be recognizable on approach, centuries after he painted it. I remember how in each church we visited, the docent would always proudly show the 1 or 2 windows that survived the Civil War, and how all the other windows are replicas of the originals, and how they each took the time to point out how the replacements differed slightly from the originals, in that larger glass could be used due to advances in glazing. I remember the sadness in the voices of the docents at the few churches where no windows survived the Civil War. I remember the majesty of the still-in-use Roman Aqueduct in Segovia.

And most of all, in hindsight, i remember the lovely respite from dealing with life at home and Dad's illness. And i wish i'd thought to get Jonathan's phone number back then. More about that another time.

5. Kyrie/Κύριε
The beauty and simplicity of this pleases me much. I find it meditative, grounding. And, it's ancient Greek - hello!

*Ogam is not a month, but a man.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
1. Music

As i have discovered in conversations with [livejournal.com profile] nancylebov, i had a best-case experience in my years in the public schools of Prince William and Fairfax Counties, Virginia, US. Mrs. Davis was the music teacher at Dale City Elementary school when i was in grades 1-4. From her, and my mother, i learned my love of song and singing. From Mrs Davis, we learned to read music. We had to prove we could read at least treble and bass clefs by the end of grade 3 or early grade 4 (we had year-round school back then, so things were a bit more fluid like that than today).

We had music class for an hour a week, on Wednesdays or Thursdays in my years there. We spent part of each class singing, with a student changing the overheads for lyrics we did not know, and with Mrs Davis sitting with her back to us, playing the piano for us to sing with. I loved watching Mrs Davis play the piano, because the visual patterns of the keys as she pressed them was beautiful and mesmerizing.

I came home from school one day when i was 8 and said to my parents, "Mommy, Daddy, i want to learn to play the piano". They looked at each other, at me, back at each other, then Mom asked me why and i told her about watching Mrs Davis and i wanted to do that. By the end of that month, i had piano lessons, along with S and T Frey, who lived down the street. For six months, i practiced at the Freys house every day after school. Then, in the Fall, on a Monday, a modern upright was delivered to our home and put into the edge of the dining room, along the stairs. So i could practice at home then.

The next year, in Grade 5, age 9 at the time, i came home and said i wanted to learn to play violin. So, dad took me to the local music store, and rented me a violin. A few months later, a private tutor was recommended to me, and her neighbor was selling a full-size violin, which i was finally big enough to play. So my parents bought it for $600. I still have it, and still play it. It's worth a very good bit more than $600 today.

In High School, i was no longer concertmaster, and so switched to viola, as i made only 3rd chair in 1st violin, and any 2nd-rate violinist would surely be a 1st-rate violist. I found i liked viola better - the mellower sound, the larger size, the more laid-back people, the less cut-throat competition for position, the generally cooperative environment the violists created.

I went 20 years playing viola, and a tad of cello, before performing on violin at the behest of [livejournal.com profile] muzikmaker21, with whom i still have symphonic intentions - literally. (I see opening with french horns and cellos in the lead, and building from there - we'll see where it all leads).

My performance of music - instrumental or vocal - is more important to me than recorded music. I do have my share of recorded music, and groups and performers of which i am quite fond - a couple of which to the point of being rather a groupie.

And any comments i make on music are incomplete with a shout-out to Hazel Cheilik, under whom i studied orchestral and chamber playing in high school, and a tip of the hat to my dearly departed friend Buffy Beverage, a cellist whom i am honored to have known, and even more honored to have played with for years in quartet and in ensemble. Oh, i did a year on the big bass drum in marching band in 4th year of high school, too.

2. Manners

Hm. Manners. Well, when i was five, i came home from a day of play for lunch to a fully set table - multiple forks, spoons, finger bowls and all. That afternoon was spent teaching me what various forks were for, how to use them, that one uses one's flatware/silverware from the outside in toward the plate, where to find the finger bowl, water glass, wine glass, cordial glass, and what. This was considered a standard extension of please, thank you, if you would be so kind, and don't chew with your mouth open. This was a thorough introduction of things to come - visits to friends of my father's on Embassy row, parties at embassies, visits to the White House (not state events), dinners at the trout club and more.

Recently, i think it was November, my mother spent an hour explaining to me about her efforts to be fair to us two kids, to treat us equally, to spend the same amount of money on us both. I think it was in large part to her explicit and implicit examples of fairness and treating all with dignity, even when it is not easy, and my inherent desire to have a peaceful environment, plus reinforcement from our wonderful neighbours, and my friends, that has inspired me through life to - mostly- try to behave my best, though i know i fail on that grandly at times, being human and all.

I started reading Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, quite young, and being a budding faggot from a young age, certain bits of formality and stuffiness are core components of my character.

This topic was hard. I think that's all i have to say, though follow-up questions may clarify what i'm fairly sure i just obfuscated.

3. Boardgames

Some time in the late Summer or early Fall of 1975, my mother sat down on the floor with me and we played Monopoly. Her stated purpose was to teach me better how to count and to make change and about money. That Monopoly set was a wedding gift from her parents, as no American household is complete without a Monopoly set. Years of family games of Monopoly would follow. Scrabble got added as i moved into Kindergarten in July of 1976. Dad started teaching me chess in the Spring of 1977, just after i had tubes put in my ears. As we move into 1978, my sister was big enough that Candyland and Trouble appeared. That Xmas, my great-grandma Shoenmann (Mom's Dad's Mom) gave my own Scrabble set, which i still have. Risk entered the picture at some point, along with many others. Other friends had other games, and we would get together and game when we weren't in the woods or along the creek or at the playground, or it was too hot, or rainy, or icy or what.

My college years were spent sharing housing with various friends, including a particular happy house in Circle Towers in Fairfax. One day, we were siting in the library, which adjoined the kitchen. One roomie was tossing oranges, which were in a bowl on the counter. So we all started throwing oranges at one another, then we ran out the door to the nearby park and played freeze tag for a while, then ran back to the house, picked up the oranges, and we guys insisted the ladies play Risk with us. They cleaned our clocks quite thoroughly that game.

A few years ago, [livejournal.com profile] scruffycritter introduced me to [livejournal.com profile] chez_turtle, where it turns out the hostess, [livejournal.com profile] chelona is someone i knew from, and lived with during, college.

In addition to board games i play Babble, and on Facebook, i'm always up for a game of Lexulous, Wordscraper, or Word Twist.

4. Conversations in [livejournal.com profile] selki's kitchen.

*Tries frantically to think why [livejournal.com profile] badmagic would choose this topic* *shrugs shoulders* [livejournal.com profile] selki is a gracious hostess always, and her parties always have lovely people at them. In the kitchen, getting food, making food, throwing away trash, grabbing a drink, doing dishes or whatever we are doing, is where the most intimate conversations usually happen in my experience.

Kitchens invite that. They are warm. They are about feasts and cookies and iced tea and coffee and camaraderie and kneading bread or biscuits.

5. The state that taught you to keep toilet paper in your car.

The State of New York. I have family in Chautauqua County. Several of my friends went to Cornell in Ithaca. One passes through NY from S to N along I-87 on the way to Quebec Autoroute 15. Back when, there were signs: "Primitive Facilities Next n00 miles". What that meant was that when you pulled into the rest area, there would be a mound to the left with a wooden sign in it that said "Men" and a mound to the right with a sign in it that said "Woman". Behind each mound was a pit toilet. So, it was bring your own or use leaves. That's all there is to say about that.

NY is a lovely state, an i spend 2 weeks each year in that state, one week in the Summer, and one week in October. I spend additional time there from time-to-time, visiting family or just being there. I go to New York City sometimes, too, which is nice, but, though a part of New York State, New York City and Westchester are not like what is N or W of them.


Feb. 20th, 2009 12:06 am
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
As many of you know, my dad grew up - til he was 15 - on a dairy farm in central Ohio, in a place called Hopewell. Aunt Ruth, the youngest sister of granddad - dad's dad - lives on a farm a tad West of there called Jacksontown. Growing up, we visited Aunt Ruth on her farm, as we still do today. When Aunt Ruth and Uncle John (he died when i was 4) bought there house, it had the same model woodstove in the kitchen that John's parents had when they married. And a pump in the corner of the kitchen, which pumped into a trough/sink that drained through the side of the house. And there was a WPA outhouse not too far outside, and a bit to the East of the North door. The outhouse had a West-facing door that opened to the North.

The seat was concrete, and the walls were wood. I think there were two seats, but i only recall one.
And there's still a pump outside the North door, but i don't think water's run from it in most of a quarter century at this point.

I remember visiting Aunt Ruth when i was i think 19. I was chasing my then-10-year-old cousin R around the house. As we came round from the West side to the North, i stopped short, mouth open staring, and stopped laughing. R stopped, turned around, came over, and asked what was wrong. "The outhouse is gone", i said, pointing. "You mean the tool shed"? Patting her kindly on the head, "Yes, R, the tool shed; the tool shed is gone."

It made me sad to see it gone. I'd only used it a few times, when there was a line for the bathroom, which along with a deep freezer and washer and dryer, are in what was a bedroom off of the kitchen.
It was torn out to accommodate a larger garage. Discussing it's removal with my cousins, we all missed it, and we all thought that a privy in the corner of the garage would be a pretty neat thing, esp since we all remember using it when the bathroom was not available. Ah, well, things they change.

This brief memoir brought to you complements of this most interesting documentary about outhouses, which i ganked from [livejournal.com profile] dc_gay_man, includes someone else mentioning the WPA outhouses and has pictures of them being built, among stories from people and less-interesting outhouse races in the last 20 minutes of the 60-minuet run time. It's well worth the watch:

The Shiver Shack from Roberta Pacino on Vimeo.


dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)

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