Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part V

Day V: Des Moines – Minneapolis

Last leg. Good lord. Starting the day at La Mie, with a lot of real European-style pastry that satisfies my eyes. They are so gorgeous and I wish I had bought some more for breakfast. Well, I will work hard to bring myself to Des Moines again.

The drive to Minneapolis was nice and calm, but once I’m in the metro. Goodness, I’m just stuck in traffic forever and got lost between lanes all the time. Two weeks later it is still a problem. Also, Minneapolis can be hot. Moving boxes and boxes of things down and up the stairs was no joke. 

But I made it to Minneapolis, in an apartment which the floor is slanted every. Single. Inch. But I have an amazing location, I’m really close to Walker, and pretty close to downtown and uptown. I have no complaints about that at all. I also resolved to make this place somewhere I can be comfortably finish my dissertation, even if it is expensive. I want to have a place where it can be a great study area, and where my creative juice flows.

Day 6+: Settling in.

It has been 15 days since I moved in. Wow, it is almost half a month. I am still figuring out some of the small details in my life, as well as everything at school. At least, I have all of my paperwork completed, and all I need is to study for my diagnostics and skill tests. I am excited to see what I can do in the next few years, how I will work with Sumanth, and everything about my doctoral studies.

My apartment is built with almost everthing IKEA, and I’m proud of that. I like the setup, and hey it is at the end pretty closely related to Sweden. Why can’t I transplant the Swedish living style here? But no, IKEA food won’t enter this household. Not a chance.

I also made a very bold decision to buy a Shikibuton instead of the normal mattress as my bed. After the first long night of figuring out my furniture and internet, I was lying on this 3-inch think futon on the floor talking with one of my best friends in the midnight. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but you know what, it felt more and more comfy as I talked. When I woke up after like 6 hours of sleep, I felt the most rested for the last many years. And up till now, I only took a nap once. Comparing with the sleep quality in the past few years in the States, it is a significant improvement. I don’t stay asleep very well, but it will get there once school starts.

Through multiple channels, I have already met a lot of great people. I met a theatre organist/organ technician that brought me to a farm (!) to see a huge collection of carousel organs and my first hands-on experience on a theatre organ. I met the director of a local art venue. I met with a church pastor that supported my ideas so much and is so into experiment and creating meaningful experiences. I met Dr. Damschroder and learned that he walks to school. This place has been so wonderful to me. There are so many doors that have already opened for me and so many dreams that I wanted to realize without success that are becoming reality. I am just constantly at the edge of crying because of gratitude and happiness. Yes it will be busy and tough, but these few years will be amazing. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Thank you for all the frustrations and sadness I experienced, without all of the experiences, this would not have been this bittersweet and wonderful. 

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part IV

Day IV: LFK-Des Moines

Oh, Lawrence F*king Kansas. What a place.

I would have never thought that I missed this place so much until I lived in Tally. Visiting Lawrence in 16 was quite emotional. This is just the same. But this time I have seen slightly more people, and they all meant more to me than last time.

I left the motel early and had a little time to do a little campus tour. Lawrence is developing very fast. K-10 construction is done this time and now there is a byway instead of go through 23rd St. While I know my bearing, it feels weird to see how much it has changed. Lied Center is still the same, and probably Bales would still be exactly the same, so I didn’t bother. However, when I go down Irving Hill Road, I freaked out. The road became so wide and there were multiple huge science building complexes in the originally barren land. That scared me. Of course, there are also new student apartments building, everything just look so different. However, the sculpture of Ju Ming is still standing strong at where it has always been.

I still couldn’t believe that this belongs to KU, and both of my undergrad alma mater own the Taichi series. At CUHK, that is such a landmark and is the center of our campus life. It witnessed so many historical events, debates and movements. Here, this solo Taichi practitioner quietly experiencing the transformation of energy, witnessing the change of life in the exact same way. Every time I see it, I feel strangely peaceful, while it fuels me with some sense of urge to strive for social justice.

Dr. Pierce and I were supposed to meet at Alchemy coffee, and I went to the one that I always knew. However, I discovered that they have a downtown location now, so I went there instead. Well, I was right all along and Dr. Pierce were in the original shop waiting for me for 15 minutes. Seeing him was such an amazing feeling. Not only because he changed me life so tremendously, his spirituality also inspired me a lot. I still don’t know much about it but he is always so calm and filled with wonders. I still remember his parting words, he swore with such calmity. I told him a lot about the things I experienced in the last two years and how alive I finally felt when I got out of Florida, as well as the many ideas I have had for my doctorate. He also shared a lot of thoughts and his experience at the U of M. That was a brief meeting but that was so much needed. Just hearing from him and see his thinking and fascinated face made me believe that I am making some right choices, and my life is indeed exciting.

Then I met two friends from collegium and Dr. Pierce’s class. Talking about what we are doing and what are our next steps. The fact is that there are many more people who care about me than I am aware of. I need to remember that. Also, I don’t have to feel isolated, my support network is huge. My friends are also doing amazing and exciting things. We are a big family of great minds.

However, the development of LFK sacrifaced something, or it is still not as attractive as KC. Super sad that I could not visit hank charcuterie, nor Ingredient, my favorite restaurant in Lawrence downtown. That is a real loss for Lawrence.

Finally meeting Joe Scoonover. I barely knew him because of, again, Dr. Pierce. We played in the new music ensemble once together. I got to know him a little better after graduation, and he is such a talented guitarist, and I would love to know more about his music and thinking. It did not disappoint me, his vision on his music and art is tremendous. The fact that displaying colors and aesthetics is so important to him proves that the expression of ideas is so crucial to good art. We touched a little on music theory pedagogy, and unfortunately, I have seen so many people like him that are failed by our current way of approaching fundamental musical knowledge. Things have to change, not in terms of the content we deliever, but how we make the content relevant to today’s musicking.

The drive to Des Moines was peaceful and full of fields. Oh midwestern life. 

Tallahassee-Minneapolis Part III

Day III: Memphis – KC

I spent the morning struggling to decide whether I should visit the Sun Records or the Lorraine Hotel. Do I care if I visited where Elvis recorded? Not really. Therefore I just passed by Sun Records and went straight to Lorraine Hotel. 

The power of visiting historical landmarks were not the idea of having been there and can stamp on my travel passport. Being at where history happens and imagining what happened, how everything fell into place, and how everyone reacted to the history were the powerful reflection that will last for life. Just like visiting Ferguson and saw all the memorabilia, it reminds us that history happened and we should remember the lesson. 

Well, before people learned that, there are many reasons for everyone to go to the civil rights museum. The museum has a rich exhibition that needs a lot of time to absorb. Unfortunately I did not have much time to fully absorb. Fortunately, however, I have encountered many great teachers that informed me a lot of the things that happened. And I will never forget the photos of the Little Rock Nine being rejected. Standing behind the corner where Dr. King was assassinated was too haunting and powerful. That happened too suddenly, and so brutally. Yet, that evidence and the blood would forever be present. Nowadays, the injustice and violence is so virtual, and so hidden in so many minds.

Passing through Arkansas was quite an experience, there were so many hills and windy roads. I was constantly scared that my car would be out of control. Seeing the sign of entering Missouri was such an emotional experience. I almost felt like I returned home, though I barely worked in KCMO for a year. As I approached Kansas City my heart was just bursting for joy so wildly. I think I was almost insane as I smiled so much seeing places that looked familiar to me. Seeing KC downtown was such a heart-warming feeling. When I drove by Overland Park, yes the traffic was still quite a mess, but it felt familiar, it wasn’t like I did not know how to deal with it like everywhere else.

It was already 7 something when I headed for dinner, and of course I went to a place for KC Barbeque. Woodyard BBQ was amazing. The burnt ends was definitely the best I have ever had. Then I went back to the two jazz clubs that I used to go. I started with the Ship as they have an organ combo beginning at 8, though it took them forever to be ready. Then I headed to the Green Lady and heard the organ trio that I never liked. However, this night they killed it, and the organist sounded like nothing I remembered. Wow, I’m really depleted with good jazz. The KC groove is very different from the other two places. It is straight but laid back. There are also more variants on the roles of percussion. There was also more emphasis on melodic playing on guitar solo. 

In winter ’16 I visited Matt, and I intentionally returned to Green Lady in one of the nights, kind of reminisced some of the first days I visited that place. That was rough. I was so full of emotions and I couldn’t control my tears. However, for this time, I was so happy and excited to be back to the places that I had been and see great musicians in action. Yes there were a lot of memories that floated from my deep memory, but they transformed to something bittersweet. I think that means I have grown? There are still a lot of questions unanswered and I still would like to know what exactly happened. But does it really matter? I now can enjoy the music on my own and I have much deeper appreciation to the jazz musicians on the things they do. It seems like I can move forward with confidence. The fact, I was so happy to be able to groove again.

一點點雜想

坐在Journeyman Coffee,本來想寫一點點曲子,寫了幾句,腦裡的想法很亂。想用文字寫下來。

這幾天頭一直微疼微暈著。心裡也很不安。一邊廂我熱切地期待在明城的一切,儘管一大堆入學試令人懊惱著;另一邊廂,和一個個在塔城的友人道別,感覺就是又一次的uprooting。無根,從來不是一種美好的感覺。過去十年之內uproot了五次,說慣不慣,說無奈,又不算是。每一次搬家都是為了更好的未來吧。

當一個人文學者和音樂家,對世事也敏感。對身邊發生的東西,既要保持距離去觀察,又要切身去體會,才能把聲音和訊息傳達。然而當今的世界,雜音太多,太多人想說話想要人聽。原來靜下來是這麼困難。活在當下,又是那麼艱難的一回事。

任何人也可以選擇不聞不聽不問,只管做自己能做的事。但要是一個人的能力在於聞、聽、問,在這世代裡生存其實很痛苦。但同時,這比任何時代更需要能聽能聞能問的人,去揭開一切面紗。

28th birthday

I have not spent my two birthdays at FSU in Tallahassee. Last year, I did my first presentation at a student symposium at the University of Florida, and since then I have kept thinking a lot about “what is music analysis.” I still don’t really have an idea of what it is technically, but I will keep searching for a satisfying answer.

This year, I spent my birthday waiting at the Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport, after a night of premiere+performance at Lycoming College. A lot of things could have been done better, but nonetheless I have another thing I can put in my resume. It is also very nice to be able to reach out to a broader audience and hopefully I will have a chance to visit Lyco again. It also surprised me that a public elementary school in the area actually talks about world music instrument, and there is an app for them! (That said, the researcher me wonder why pipa and erhu are the two instruments that are used to represent Chinese music, oh well.)

I definitely enjoy talking to a public audience, I believe that introducing music to them does not need gimmicks, nor lowering the standard of scholarship. It can be as concise as needed, but sometimes a piece of strange knowledge might change someone’s perception of music in a big way.

In my less-than-24-hours stay in Williamsport and surroundings, I do have some great discovery. I enjoy seeing mountains and rivers so much, and it reminds me so much of the European landscape. For sure the architecture somewhat reminds me of that as well. There is something about old American towns that is really charming and unique. I also went to see the World of Little League, and the Steamtown National Site. I think in some way I am really interested in the industrial history of different countries, and how the industries shape an area, with a specific vibe.

Finally, Wegman’s rocks. Who knows that they have the best mochi in the States.

2017 Review

2017 couldn’t have been longer. There are many great things happened but at the same time my stress level couldn’t be higher. I am also discovering myself at  a deeper level, partially because of something that is really awful.

My spring semester at FSU was solely stress if not anything else. The classes I was taking were wearing me down at a very deep level. I was exhausted by the busy work and I was not able to think about things that keep me in graduate school. I have had many moments asking myself if I was doing the right thing. My teaching was going quite well, considering my students realized how much I cared for them. I also start to realize that many students experience things that are out of our imagination, and I become more affirmative that schooling is not the only way that gets them to success. A Star Ferry Ride is performed at the FSU Festival of New Music in February by Dr. Michael Casey and Brett Chittenden, and their performance is absolutely out of the world. I couldn’t have asked for a better interpretation.

I went home in May to take a much-needed break. I feel less and less connected to the city I grew up in, and the atmosphere in the city has changed so much. At the end of the year, when I heard more about the news from the town, and I look at the posts that most of my friends share, I wonder what else we can keep for our culture and city. I also question, why Chinese power like destruction of its own heritage so much? I also spent some time collecting old music scores and recordings of Cantonese music, hopefully some time in the future I can make use of them for some studies.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression during summer, after many sad events. I am not sure if I truly have overcome what happened, but I am feeling stronger in terms of my ability to tackle problems in life.

The fall semester is strange. I decided not to take any theory classes but a private study, and I took up DSP again. I couldn’t have been happier as I do my individual studies, I have a lot of questions to offer, next year I am going to try to make peace with myself. I am once again reminded that DSP is a weird subject. For some unknown reason I can do the math, but I can never truly understand what is going on. I also took a class on medieval notation. It is a rough class, and i kept on asking why people back in those days don’t line up notes. But the last lecture my professor “preached” about how much they have influenced us, and how many questions they were asking are yet re-questioned by us these days. It make me tear up.

My car got towed once and my bike is now gone. Also, while my car did behave well for the whole year, right now its ignition is not working.

I also started the doctoral application process. Heard back from one school, noticed that I completely messed up the formatting of one of the writing samples as I edited (and am still editing), hoping more news would come soon.

2018 would be yet another year of change, but it will be much more exciting.

Sioux Falls and Omaha

既然有了自己的網站…那麼就把以前的遊記轉載過來,但圖就懶得處理了。

住在Sioux Falls, SD的友人早前說要是要探望他就要在六月頭前找他,看看月曆,大約是五月尾最合適了吧。於是定了日子,順道看看Omaha, NE,找找風琴教授。這也是到Florida之前在Midwest的最後一次旅行。

只是…旅程剛開始就出了小意外。小車的Cruise Control失靈了。在高速公路駛了三個小時,在休憩站停泊時發現車有點難剎掣…park了以後引擎竟然開始以極速加速…嚇了一跳之後立刻關掉引擎,幸而車子沒大礙。平伏心情以後通了幾道電話,縮短了旅程(但其實…也許沒關係),再駛到Sioux Falls。IMG_1589

IMG_1585Sioux Falls據說是South Dakota的最大城鎮,但也許那兒比Overland Park更小。大部份主要地方距離Downtown都是在半小時步程之內。Downtown 有很多有特色的小店,但隔兩個街口就已經是金融區。說不上有甚麼特色。但為了見老朋友,足矣。這兒最大的景點大約是Falls Park吧。很明顯地,政府用了很多資源美化這公園,而這兒又真的很美麗。但是水是臭的,走近一點的話衣服就遭殃。IMG_1769

但探他的主要原因是看看Vermillion的National Music Museum。這小小的博物館在音樂圈子裡真的是有名。當中的展品有很多都是很罕見的樂器。有些很古怪,也有些很精緻。然而在這兒看到了一個未被平均律污染的琵琶和「代表香港」的古琴(…),真的是有點意外。但我和朋友最大的問號是:這些樂器很多都沒有機會弄出聲音來了,那不是很可惜麼?然而,一個「音樂博物館」,只有一部Portable Media Player在門口的gift shop播著用上其中一部fortepiano來錄製的CD,音樂的原素在哪?

回程是短暫留在Omaha,本來這應該是要多留一點時間的一站,但IMG_1997不同原因之下我只是留了幾個小時。教授載我四處走,才知道Warren Buffett就是在Omaha,而且他和太太和Buffett有過一面之緣。Omaha和Lincoln也給我很相似的印象-舊區很有工業的餘韻,而藝術在這兒很蓬勃。而Omaha也開始起飛了吧。對比起Kansas City,60-70年代的建築在這兒還是主數,但新式建築也在慢慢增加。

IMG_1884教授太太在St. Cecilia Cathedral工作,然而在這音樂主保的主教座堂,又怎會沒有音樂學校。那規模有點誇張。座堂裡的風琴也是很特別的一部琴。IMG_1888Pasi在設計時,把Well-tempered stops和mean tone stops設計在一起,所以風琴師可以按喜好用不同的調律演奏。一直覺得音律這回事很複雜,而它真的是很複雜,但聽起來,well-tempered和mean tone的確是兩回事,pure thirds聽起來真的很舒服。但限制也太多了。它…就留在復古的東西吧。

我在Omaha Zoo逗留了一會。魚還是我最愛的動物。其他展館真的不俗,但我真的沒太大興趣。這些日子很多友人貼了不少反對開設動物園的東西。我明白。看著動物們在有限、虛擬的空間生活實在令人不忍。但是,城市的小孩,沒有了動物園,畏首畏尾的家長們會讓孩子接近大自然麼?孩子們不看見這Biodiversity,會相信牠們處於危機麼?

寫在六月三日,世界很亂,問題很多。一切也沒有令人折服的解釋。

 

Hon Ki, BMus in Composition, Organ and Theory

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I really wasn’t planning on attending any of the commencement festivities, but Dr. Pierce said he needed to take a photo with me at the convocation, that’s why I have to be there. Receiving the notice of me graduating with distinction also surprised me a little. I thought about buying all those fancy ribbon and cords from Phi Kappa Phi, but eventually I forgot about it, but I still have a little something to decorate my black gown.

Anyways, I can say I am done with undergrad finally, (almost) officially. When Dr. Bergee said, “Your life will no longer be the same,” as I walked through the stage, it warmed my heart. Leaving KU is just the beginning a very long journey. I look forward to write a lot more music.

I don’t know how many times I thought about giving up and return to engineering in the last 4 years. How drastic my mind had changed every semester, this ride was really, really bumpy. At the same time, I totally felt that my physical energy is not as strong as I was when I was an engineer. I grew old, a little. I also realised that there are many facets of life, my world shouldn’t only be about work. I have to take care of myself, my family, my interests, and people I care.

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And as always, Eurovision is such an important end-of-semester show for me. I like how the show is organized, and seeing Globen and the sights of Stockholm reminded me of the wonderful place and all the amazing experiences, as it opened once again my door to music and ignited my desire for explorations. How much I wish I could be there once again. While Ukraine got its crown in a rather drastic way (well, I really thought the EBU was trying to avoid the ESC going to Australia, after all), I am glad that they provided the world such a profound sound. Ukraine is the other place that had a profound impact on me, thanks to my church choir in Sweden which organized its annual trip to the painful country.

So much places for me to see and experience, too many things to write about and reflect on.

滿月之前

很久沒有在這兒留下點點東西。在Lawrence的生活很平淡,沒有甚麼很深刻的事在發生。學習的生活也比想像的變態,人有點累的感覺。人長大了,沒以前那般精力旺盛,但要做的事比之前更多。

但很多很多的小事還是可以組成一點點難忘的記憶。

結果我還是轉了宿舍,轉到了比較貴、離風琴演奏廳距離近得多的宿舍。搬宿之前那星期剛巧一星期七天也要到演奏廳,那真的是很要命。同時間,某人的說話令我感到很困擾。我告訴各人在關搬宿的消息某才問我我的中文名是甚麼,然後對自己成長的城市說了一些很古怪的看法。是美國化的原因嗎?還是,中國真的這麼不堪回首?!

反而來了這兒,我更關注要保護自己獨特的背景、更希望別人在我身上看到不多一樣的東西。

在western civilization的課上,老師每天也問What happened?很多時同學也在說和美國有關的事,有天忍不住向他們說著公民廣場的事。最近有同學提起了釣魚台的新聞,終於,他們對美國以外的東西有了興趣。但他們的理解還是很片面,來龍去脈全不知道。教授這刻就會問我,究竟這是甚麼一回事兒。我說不上很清楚,但最少,我有能力向他們展示東方的樣子。

另外,我也重新開始了toastmasters的旅程。我選擇了Storytelling Proj. 2作第一個advanced speech。某程度是一個「高級」的自我介紹吧。這得到了很好的回響。他們對我這種香港式toastmaster訓練出來的speech感到很不同,加上我的”British accent”很好聽。這個肯定更讓我知道我堅持要保留自己的特色是沒錯的。

但在見工的時候,advisor說我有french accent….我倒不知道這從何而來。

我也找到了一份on campus的工作,我準備做一個物理和數學的導師。說真的,薪酬很低很低,但,我還算是教大學的課程了吧。而且每天都是對著文字和音符,倒真的很想念以前每天面對數字、程式和diagrams的時光。用這份工作調劑一下生活也算不錯。

EE的生活是很無憂也沒甚麼壓力的,加上是一大班傻瓜一起向前走的,感覺和現在很大分別。現在我有很多很多的時間都是一個人在練琴和溫習,上課和同學的互動方式也很不一樣。很有一個人向前走的感覺。當中的累和無奈,不是這麼容易說出來。

昨天彈studio class,其實自問已經準備得很好,雖然臨表演前一課還是做了不少修改。到真正上場是很多東西都很亂,也很怯。加上鋼琴老師也在說我在點膽怯,很多時是心理因素弄得彈得不清楚。看來,我還是要快點克服心理這大關。

這個多月來愈來愈覺得自己身體不聽話了。昨晚練鋼琴以後終於忍不住要去玩,去了游泳。天,我四肢完全沒力了,氣量倒是還可以。看來真的要多點動一下了。而在gym的receptionist竟在看但丁,令我忍不住搭了訕。一個修讀communication and italian的學生,和一個音樂學生在運動學大樓說意大利文學,怪。

明天的中秋,會去看看KC的中樂小組,希望我快點學車,快點彈起我的琵琶兒子。我帶了琵琶帶了弦但沒有彈指甲來美,笨。

迎新週

當年做番薯人覺得迎新很累,也不喜歡四處都很多人、做很多無聊事的感覺。現在做第二次番薯人,幸運的是這兒的迎新活動(除了必需的入學手續)都是自願參與的。對比起來已算是舒服一點。然而真正的welcoming week在開學週才開始呢…

Lawrence的人都很友善,在校園裡外買東西還是只是路過都會聽到別人問候”How’s your day?”,昨早在kansas union門外看到兩個工人在拆舞台,但也會和路人問安,我又順便寒暄幾句。巴士司機也是談天的對象,懶理安全了。教授也是很好的人,他是個很忙的人,但會和我說”Tell me when you have questions, not only in studies, everything”。呃。

KU的校園開始有了生氣,美國的學生都進行他們的迎新活動了。但校園還是很寧靜,還未有上學的氣氛。

我在音樂學院考了placement,本以為在只有這麼短時間,教授會要我們分析和聲就算了,怎料還是要我們自由發揮。聽音也不算太難…只是太久沒做過聽音,有點慌張。結果倒是意料之中帶點意外,教授竟說我的聽音”quite good”,但很強調我沒有完成寫和聲那兒的要求。看到電郵時心裡痛了一下。piano literacy很輕易考過了,只是這兒的三角琴也很老…@@

第一年來美選擇住宿,本想著是希望可以快點融入這個地方,認識多一點人。但我現在覺得這是完全不必要的,而且是令自己分了神。

我選擇住在scholarship hall,因為這兒是communal living,大家分工處理宿舍的工作,而且租金比一般宿舍便宜一點點。這些宿舍也有很多傳統,理論上是令宿生有更多的聯繫,有很深厚的感情。這短短時間看到一些活動,我覺得是對新生來說會是很好玩的,我也很尊重這些活動。但,我不是”normal freshmen”了,加上練琴的時間長,我不會花甚麼時間在宿舍裡去。而且,”Hall life”裡面的socialization,還不太是我喜歡的東西。倒是很懷念Kungshamra的日子,十多人在corridor rooms,有點點是communal,大家輪流清潔廚房,有空才坐下來討論很深入的東西、搞一次corridor dinner。而不像在schol hall這種必需性的社交。就算在伯宿,也不需要像現在一般每天都要見著同一班人。

我真的很希望這年快點過去不用再住宿,我需要有自己的房間和空間。

KU有很多traditions,這個welcoming week的頭炮-block party,雖說是party,但其實是give-away day,在食堂有無限的零食和試食派發、書店也有幸運輪,也有免費保齡等。到第二天的traditions night,就是把學校口號、歷史作介紹的晚上。這些都是很有意思也很感受到KU campus life and spirits的活動。難怪教授叫我可以的話盡量多去參與了。

明天就要開學,但待會兒才進行choir audition,晚上就是convocation。完了late night dish washing之後要好好休息去。