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2003-10-19 3:28 a.m.

slawische komponisten vol. 1 OR a moment of black, white, and grey

I donít usually talk about this stuff directly. Actually, I probably wonít be overly direct now. Even if dealing with the fallout from this stuff is the reason I started this diary thing in the first place. Letís go.

I remember, it was autumn of 1998. Probably the beginning of November. Calgary.

It was perhaps midnight. My companion had gone to bed and was fast asleep. I was unable to get to sleep as usual, restless and desperate. I came down from the bedroom area to the living room/kitchen area of our apartment and sat cross-legged in front of the sliding glass door leading to the balcony. We lived on theÖ seventh floor? High up. It was snowing outside. If not the first snow of the year, one of the first (it was unseasonably warm that year). In the foreground I could make out the individual snowflakes swirling and twirling on their way past me to oblivion. Beyond that it was just a vague grey fading to black. Perhaps there wasnít anything out there at all. A moment of black, white, and grey.

After a few minutes of simply appreciating the muffled calmness of the scene, I pulled out a CD, labeled ďSlawische Komponisten Vol. 1.Ē I put it in and began to listen. The music on this CD had seemed to me for quite some time to crystallize so precisely just where I was in my life at that time, but that night I felt the connection more strongly than ever as I listened and watched the snow fall. The second track especially seemed to capture so perfectly the mix of desperation and resignation, lassitude and pain, poignant emptiness, excruciating Silence, and fervent desire that I was inexorably sinking under at that time. Despair. Yes, that must be the word for times like those. And that CD, that track, was right there with me, dredging my state of mind out of the blurry depths and setting it down right in front of me where I could see it and touch it and hear it.

"And I knew it wasnít going to pass, and nothing for the moment could make me forget, but what I felt was inexpressible gratitude for the music, that in this horror there could be something as beautiful as that. You couldnít understand anything; and you couldnít change anything. But you could make music like that."

Whew! End of flashback. I feel guilty for the times when I wallow in the self-pity of my stupid WASP problems, but itís my diary and Iíll cry if I want to. If you donít like it, go read mimi. Even if you do, it couldnít hurtÖ

Anyway, I listened to the aforementioned CD again last night for the first time in a while, and I was amazed at how completely it took me back to that time, specifically how the second track took me right back to that moment, watching snow fall past the balcony. The memories of that period are burned into my cortex more brightly than anything thatís happened since, but listening to that CD last night made five years emotional distance feel like five minutes.

The CD contains a collection of short pieces by Bela Bartok, including 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs (piano), 20 Pieces for Children (guitar), 5 Dances from Romania (strings), and Allegro Barbarco (piano). At the time, I think I was listening to it several times a week. My favorite was the 5 Dances from Romania- I used to think that together the five pieces represented each of my primary moods. I really liked the 20 Pieces for Children, too, more so than the 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs. (I never really cared for Allegro Barbarco, actually.) Most if not all of the pieces recall emotions and memory fragments of that time, but itís that second track, the second of 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, that brings back the most vivid recollections and seems somehow to contain the totality of the experience. Huh.

I donít even know where I got that CD. I donít have any specific recollections of it before that time, but Iím certain I acquired it in high school. Though I certainly didnít know enough about classical music in high school to have consciously picked Bartok to listen to. I think it was one of those "double CD of classical music for five bucks" things. I think my mom saw it somewhere and bought it for me on a whim. (The other CD, Slawische Komponisten Vol. 2, has some of Lisztís symphonic poems on it, which I was never really able to wrap my mind around.) It was just one of those random, blind acquisitions that turns out to be magic.

I think that when people say that words can't express a certain feeling, it's usually just because the person saying it is incapable of using language effectively. But any attempt I have ever made at describing how I felt at that time has always seemed to me utterly pathetic, only expressing the tiniest shred of what I actually felt then. I don't think I could ever get another person to understand where I was at that point in my life. Perhaps I might try having them listen to that track, but I can't expect it to evoke in anyone else what it evokes in me. That was the worst it's ever been for me, and probably the worst it ever will be, since I don't think I could survive anything worse. It's further in the past every day, and for that I am grateful.

I started this diary in February of 2000, one year and four months after watching the snow. It was all still too near then, and I just couldn't discuss it directly here, even if it was the elephant in the room for the first year or so. Now I like to think I'm "over it" and thus don't need to "deal with it" anymore. It is "dealt with." I'm fairly well at peace and I've accepted the reality of my situation as far as I can discern it. But in my heart of hearts, I have to admit that I don't believe I will ever be over it.

I think I said more than I had planned. But I went back and deleted some of what I had already written, so I guess we'll compromise.

Now for something completely different!

I saw Matchstick Men yesterday. It broke my heart. Broke my friggin heart! 3 stars

I guess there are some bright points in Bush policyÖ

Those South Koreans (not to mention the Chinese) seem to be getting even crazier than the Japanese these days.

I got 8 out of 10. How about you?

Oh- donít forget about Ninja Burger.

I may have found a new blog habit. A wonderful way of figuring what itís really like over there right now and what the people really think is to read Iraqi blogs. Riverbend and Zayed are both my age...

Oh, and check out Al Jazeera's English website.

i knew it wasn't going to pass,