Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On complicated friendships

When I was in ninth grade, I spent biology class goofing off in the back of the room with a table of all guys. These kids were some of my great friends and biology was full of excellent times dissecting pigs, telling jokes, and listening to the guys talk about the beautiful girls that made their lives miserable (ah, junior high...). One day they made an anti-girl club called "Chica de las Muertas" and they let me be an honorary member since, in Aaron's words, "You're practically a guy when you hang out with us."

I'm not going to make this an analysis of my relative girliness or manliness, I'm quite comfortable with being a girl. However, I have a lot of experience being "one of the guys," and I love it. Historically, I've found it easier to establish and maintain friendships with guys than with girls. I tend to be less intimidated by guys. Since coming to college and living with roommates I've gotten much better at building wonderful friendships with girls, and I adore my female friends. To quote Nacho Libre, "They are my heart." But, being in a female-dominated major and living with 5 other girls, I often have moments where I need to escape the estrogen cloud I live in and get a breath of fresh, testosteroney air.

However, attending a university where dating and marriage are highly stressed and becoming  more aware of my sexual attraction to men and my desire to someday be married to a man has made my friendships with guys...complicated. Whenever my friendship with a guy passes the surface level my brain goes into heavy over-analysis mode, trying to decide if this deeper level of our friendship means we're going to fall in love, get married and have a passel of young'uns. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Every romantic relationship I've ever had has come from a process similar to this one, and I since I hope to marry someone I consider my best friend, I'm sure I'll continue to use this process. But what if I become really good friends with a guy, but for some reason or another, we don't end up dating? Maybe there's not enough physical chemistry. Maybe our worldviews or personalities conflict. This is the point where I start to stress out. A lot.

I have a tendency to invest a lot of emotion into my friendships. I don't make friends quickly or easily, but once I do, I get very attached. So if I have a male friend with whom I've built up a certain degree of trust and emotional intimacy, I tend to get very scared of losing them. Because in BYU culture, many people seem to think that the primary role of cross-gender friendships is to find a spouse, and once you've found and married your one true love, you have no need of other friendships. In fact, having close friends of the opposite gender after marriage is often frowned upon as an "emotional affair". So if I have a male friend who I love platonically, but am incompatible with romantically, our friendship is more or less doomed as soon as one of us falls in love with someone else. Not wanting to lose the friends I've become so close to, I'm tempted to force myself to fall in love with my male friends so I don't have to lose them. This becomes a problem when no matter the amount of affection, there is insufficient attraction. Or when one party doesn't reciprocate the attraction. Or when I have several really awesome guy friends who I want to keep. 

What I wonder is, am I making this too complicated? Why can't I have the same joyful, pressure-free friendships with guys that I have with girls? One reason I'm hesitant to start dating anyone right now is because I'm afraid to lose all of my wonderful male friends, but maybe I don't have to. I mean, things would be different, but...they're my friends. They're important to me. And I like to think I'm important to them.

Readers, what do you think? Are platonic male/female friendships ever sustainable? Why or why not? And whether or not they are sustainable in the long term, how do I stop freaking out and enjoy spending time with my male friends while I still can? Give me some wisdom here, friends. I'm lackin'. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In which that string quartet is stuck in my head.

It's like a romantic comedy: girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl gets to know boy better and falls deeply in love.

Take out "boy" and add "numerous long-dead classical composers" and you've got my college music career in a nutshell. That's right folks. I never thought I'd say it, but over the last couple of semesters, I've fallen deeply in love with three dead dudes: J.S. Bach, Joseph Haydn, and W.A. Mozart.

 For years, I maintained that Bach was too complicated and calculated for me to enjoy. To all you classical music aficionados, I can only say, "I was young! I was ignorant! I had only ever played Bach Inventions, and a little bit from the Well-Tempered Klavier!" However, last year, I was introduced to (aka forced to learn) an incredible keyboard Toccata and...wow...just...wow. Shortly thereafter I discovered Bach's more awesome organ works, and just last month became enamored of his Mass in B Minor. Powerful stuff. And studying Bach in theory and history classes has absolutely blown my mind...the man was an absolute master of counterpoint. It's ridiculous. His fugues make my heart go pitter-patter.

And then, there's our friend Wolfgang. Smitten with Beethoven and his Romantic brethren, I scorned the lack of grand passion and individual expression inherent in Mozart's music. I took great pride in being the only classical musician I knew who couldn't stand Mozart. And yet...slowly, slowly...I cracked. Maybe it was learning the delicate, lovely, K. 281 piano sonata. Maybe it was seeing "Die Zauberflote" live at the Vienna State Opera or hearing the Requieum in Stephansdom. Maybe it eating Mozart-kugeln in Salzburg. Or maybe it was finally understanding enough theory to realize that composition-wise, Mozart's music is like...flawless. But somehow, in the last year, a soft spot in my heart has been carved for this man. Most days, I still prefer a good Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody or a Chopin nocturne, but when I'm in the right mood, a light, frothy Mozart sonata can hit the spot. And the Jupiter symphony just makes me want to jump and dance and tell everyone how awesome and wonderful life is.

Going into this school year, I was a little bit lost...I didn't hate Bach anymore. My loathing for Mozart had vanished. How could I be a proper music snob without hating at least one composer? So I clung tightly to my dislike of Haydn. I'm...actually not sure why. I'll be honest, I had listened to hardly any of his music, and had rashly and ignorantly given it the label of "boring". In my Form and Analysis class last semester, I had to analyze a lot of Haydn, and while listening to its still didn't impress me, analyzing it did. It always fit the form just perfectly, just how it should...except for maybe one or two chords that were completely unexpected. It started to feel like Haydn was playing with my head, messing with my expectations. And soon I felt like Haydn and I had become great friends, that he was playing these mischievous pranks on me to make me laugh. This semester in Music History, my affection for Haydn was sealed with this string quartet. I might be a complete nerd, but the ending makes me laugh every time (which I guess is why the piece is called "The Joke",) and the melody gets stuck in my head for days at a time. I love it, and I love Haydn.

And the moral of the story is: sometimes all it takes to love something is to learn more about it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In which I am easily distracted

Sometimes I desperately need to create a lesson plan, write in my work blog, and study for my music history test...
And instead I spend an hour and half reading online essays about comic strips....

And yet somehow, I don't really regret it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In which I don't act my age

You know you're secretly only seven years old when you go to a career fair and cruise right on past the booths for Goldman Sachs, Apple, and various other fancy, prestigious companies without giving them a second look, pick up applications for a summer camp and Disneyland, and then leave. Grown-up jobs just sound so boring to me. So it's probably a good thing I'm planning to work in elementary schools for the rest of my life.

And yet, despite my aversion to grown-up jobs...I finally have one. A job where I go to an office and send emails and make copies (any job that uses a copy machine is a grown-up job by default). And...it's not really that bad. It kind of makes me feel like I'm a real adult now...and then I go to my other job, where I draw pictures with fourth graders. And I finally feel at home.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In which intrinsic motivation never felt better.

World, today I practiced piano for an hour.

I mean, really practiced. Metronome, exercise book, scales, the real deal. And I made some serious progress on the Schubert piece that I've been wanting to perfect. Serious enough that I might might have it ready in time for Grand Pianos Live. (So ya know, if you want to come see me or anything...)

It felt...so good. Seriously. Not just to be at the piano again, not just to feel like I was making quality music, but to know that I was making music on my own terms. That I wasn't doing it for a grade, that I wasn't preparing for juries or a recital or a nervewracking lesson the next day. I was just playing because I wanted to play. Because I missed Schubert. Because I love the feeling of drilling a phrase over and over again, until you've got the dynamics and the phrasing and the balance and the expression absolutely perfect, and then you can move on to the next phrase and make it just as perfect. Knowing I could stop any time I wanted, that I could practice for 15 minutes or 3 hours, and it didn't matter.

It's a feeling I haven't felt in a long, long time. And it was perfect.

Monday, January 16, 2012

In which I dream of riches.

Someday, when I am rich (or at least...out of paycheck-to-paycheck range), I will:

Eat things besides pasta and granola bars.
Have my own room again.
Go snowboarding every weekend (and even some weekdays, since I could afford to miss work)
Go rock climbing on days besides "Bring a Friend Friday" (where I can get in for free, because I have friends with season passes).
Buy all of the music I ever loved. And all of the books ever written, even ones I don't love.
Have a car.
Own my own camping gear.
Travel. A lot.

Things that I do now, instead of being rich:

Get really creative with my food sources, so I can eat things besides pasta and granola bars. These include: attending social/church functions just because there will be free food, try to date as much as possible, and go to my grandparents' house for every Sunday dinner possible.
Bond with the two other girls who share my room, and pretend I'm a pirate when I climb up the ladder to my little bunk. (I'm not sure why climbing up the ladder makes me feel like a pirate, but...it does.)
Not whine about how crappy the snow is this year, because I've been lucky enough to miss out on that particular hardship.
Spend time with my awesome friends who do have Quarry passes, especially on "Bring a Friend Friday".
Spotify. And Pandora. And libraries. And thrift store bookshelves. (Ender's Game for a dollar at D.I.? Yes, please.)
Ride my bike or walk everywhere, acquiring some sick calf muscles in the process.
Use my dad's camping gear, which is pretty dang nice.
Travel. A lot. Even though I can't afford it. (This actually may be the reason why I can't afford anything else on my "If I were rich" list...)

Turns out wealth isn't all it's cracked up to be (though it would still be nice...)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In which things are good

I've realized something; I blog less when things are good. Not necessarily because most of my blogging is complaining; I think I've written some surprisingly upbeat posts when depressed. However, I think for me, writing serves two main purposes: channeling emotions and escaping them, with the occasional celebratory moment. So I'm gonna switch things up a little and blog on a happy day:

I'm in a new apartment, in my old ward. I miss living with my family, having my dad's office in the next room over, playing with my sisters, wrestling with my brother, and following my mom around the house. I miss my amazingly soft bed with its scads of pillows, which I've now traded for a top bunk that feels like a pile of bricks. But I love being back in my second home, right by campus. I feel like my old friends and neighbors have given me such a warm welcome back. I love that I'm right by JDawgs, Spoon it Up, Awful Waffle, and Slab.

I'm a huge fan of my classes this semester. The other day, I learned about the role of devotional music in the cosmology of Hinduisum, examined award-winning picture book art, and rehearsed with my choir. My other classes involve playing singing games, studying Haydn sonatas, choreographing modern dances, singing, and learning the viola. My major...might be the best. Just sayin'.

Even though its January, it is still a balmy 40 degrees outside, with a sky that feels like it belongs in April. All my snow-loving friends complain about the warmth, but as I can't afford a snowboarding pass this year anyway (and to me, that's really all snow is good for), I'm just enjoying the inexplicably gorgeous weather as best I can.

So yeah, I'd say my life is pretty great these days.

Pretty dang great.