Monday, April 26, 2004

It is finished.: Hallelujah, no cheese please.

The Messiah performance is finished. It's unavoidable feeling a little bit empty after a heavy thing such as that has taken place. Of all 4 semesters of chorus, I believe the Messiah has been the most difficult and above every other piece of work I've done. MD really pushed us to achieving something close to impossible in my opinion. There were so many newbies and freshmen in chorus this semester that I'd have been amazed if we'd just plowed through the piece and emerged in one piece (us) afterwards. However, it turned out to be much more than just another vocal workout. It's something indescribable that must be experienced by itself. I believe if I had the chance to sing this again I definitely would.

And remember I was saying the church was kinda "blah"? Well, apparently it's a completely different church with the lights on. The bare "candles" on the chandeliers actually gave off welcoming neonish gold light, making the whole church glow. I thought that the walls were blue until the lights came up and I realized that they were pale yellow! I've told everyone that the place now reminded me of the Hogwarts Dining Hall (Harry Potter). Such a transformation.

It was a full house down below and mostly full in the balcony. Mostly people just wore polos, t-shirts and khaki slacks--just a casual night out. The weather was kinda hot that night. So many students, because I guess student tickets are cheaper. I had a friend who came to see me! So that was very nice. And of course not to mention my sweet family came! And they said they enjoyed it a lot, that it was one of the best.

I'll spare you the details of what went on the night of the very last rehearsal. Let's just say all the tension that last night was channeled as positive energy on the actual eve of the performance. And we figured out when to stand and sit!

Some of my fave passages:
Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain (Rev. 5:12-13)--just everything
All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray (Isaiah 53:6)--just the idea that the Lord is our Shepherd who'll call us back to Himself no matter how far we may've strayed, is an immensely comforting thought and strong promise
And with His Stripes We Are Healed (Isaiah 53:5)--the alto melody is beautiful and suits the doubleness of the words very well
And I'm glad our Hallelujah chorus, which everyone must be familiar with, had zero cheese in it. Bad for pizza, good for us.

After all this, this is my prayer:
Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
Psalms 80:3

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Rain and sun, Sweat and blood

It rained yesterday and it was freezing. Can you imagine? And today it's sunny like it's been sunny all along. Rainy days never stays [sic]...

Ah yes, rehearsed Messiah from 7-10 pm last night with the orchestra... It's really beginning to feel like an endurance race of sorts... Clearly not a walk in the park! However, what's not been easy hasn't been the length of rehearsal... time goes by pretty fast... Instead, it's trying to look all happy and relaxed and light when we're singing impossibly fast with all the different parts coming in at different times, and no time to look down at our scores.
More than once, MD has told us, "You guys shouldn't look angry when you're singing!" We weren't even aware of that...
I hope I don't sound like I'm complaining. It's really satisfying when I'm at a point where I can actually hear the other parts when I'm singing. It's much more enjoyable... I'm just incredulous that we've pulled it off so far...

Of course, there comes a point when an upper limit is reached... I wonder if we've reached the ceiling yet? I wonder how far our MD will take us? I'm trying to compromise for now by singing really soft when it seems the altos know this passage very well, and singing in my normal voice when they don't quite remember what's going on...

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Open Day Epilogue: Okonomiyaki & the Magic of International Exposure

I just realized something about international experiences: people love it if you know their food, and bonus points to you if you like the food. At the Japanese food stall that day, my friend Vee, who was mostly the one getting the food for us, told the Japanese student, "Um, can I have one of those... I'm not sure how to pronounce it..." And though the guy was patient enough to position the body forward a bit (you know Japanese manners...) he wasn't sure what to say or do. So I said from behind Vee, "One okonomiyaki please!!" The guy quickly nodded and the whole team came alive and set to work to cook it for us. And I was delighted at their response. Needless to say that was the favorite moment of my day. The people at the Malaysian food place came a close 2nd.

Am I exaggerating? I'm not sure... I just think that people can sense it if you like their food or not. And frankly on that day, I had no idea what most of the other stuff was, and I wasn't sure if I was willing to pay $5 each time I was trying a different country's food... People are smart and they know if you know your stuff or not. So, the lesson is: find some friends who have tried different foods before, and just tag along with them until you gain some exposure! Then you can go on your own next time. And though taste is so subjective, it can be acquired...

In a way this is for personal benefit--a reminder that
1) it wasn't totally pointless for me to post what went on that day and
2) it's good to know I'm not fated to be displeased with certain people forever. That just isn't healthy... Well, even when experiences get tough, I usually try to frame them in a funny/amusing way. Even when other people don't think that "my funny" is funny at all. That's ok. I've a strange sense of humor sometimes...
I read at a site about a person who has decided to find 2 or 3 things to make herself laugh for every one that makes her upset. And this from a cancer patient! If a cancer patient can do it, why can't I? Gotta learn how to do that. Then I can survive...

And you can just click for free to help the world be a better place...

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Sunday, April 18, 2004

"We have tur---------ned" crazy...

You can say I just came back from yet another grueling choir practice on the Messiah--2 hours straight from 6 to 8! (Well, we had a 5-minute break in the middle). We sopranos and altos basically just drilled more. Basically I had the parts where we've to sing the word "turn-ed" as quick notes in succession (symbolizing the action of "turning"), memorized. The memorization started unconsciously at first, and then I put in conscious effort to finish remembering the whole phrase. And there are quite a few! But they are worth the trouble.

For the last half hour or so, this other lady (a vocal instructor) tried teaching us altos not to lose air in the middle range of our singing, while MD rehearsed with the sopranos. She told us not to puff out air when singing "he". However, if I don't sing "h"s, it's easy for me to sing nasally though. And if you remember, we shouldn't do that! Frankly, the two music instructors have conflicting theories about vocal technique:
one wants us to sing "h" and the other doesn't want us to let out air
one doesn't want nasality and the other makes us do a nasal "ne ne ne" in place of the real words...
So I just try to sing softly during this time and not be too conspicuous.

MD has applauded the women by saying that no matter what kind of acoustic space we've been to (the resonant church, the dry building on Saturday...), we still sound wonderful! We all were so happy at hearing that. Sometimes a sincere kind word can go a long way...

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E-mail: GCat

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Open Day Part IV (final)

I think it is fair to say that some couples are paying more attention to *ahem* us than to Giovanni and his partner. One couple finds it very helpful to watch the two of us demonstrate the basic step. Probably because we seem more approachable? Bert tells them, "It's easy. Just count." as the couple stares on at our feet in wonder. I don't know whether to cry or laugh at this. I can't believe people are watching us and learning from me as well! It is quite overwhelming.

So, while Giovanni is teaching salsa at that side of the dance floor, Bert (and I, I suppose) completely ignore him and do our own thing. Like going around in impossible circles in both directions until it gets dizzying, facing the same direction with me in front and him at the back while doing the "turning basic" (as I later found out) in opposite directions, trying to figure out how our arms should go (this is hard if you imagine Brian Cardinal dancing with a 5 foot 3 girl), watching Bert go off improvising on his own and enjoying himself, trying to remember which way to turn, trying to feel the music... I'm vaguely aware that people must be watching but I tell myself I can't worry about that right now, since I don't know them anyway. I know I must've looked really dorky because sometimes I had to jump to get my arms over Bert's head, and I've absolutely no rhythm. I'm serious about this. I tell Bert that I haven't danced since high school, and he says, "You're ok, you're alright." I think he was just being nice, and desperate besides, to have a partner... If I was horrible at least he didn't let me know...

What is most fun though, is when Bert is about to turn me and then right at that moment he says "right!" and I turn on my right foot, then "left!" while I turn on my left foot. We do so many of those!! I confess any help I can get is a life-saver! So it just seems for a split second that I (sometimes) know what I'm doing, and am enjoying it too, when I try to look like I'm enjoying myself... when it's more appropriate to say that I'm in shock and utter disbelief at what is happening to me. Here I am, dancing salsa with some guy from Belgium who I hardly know, while my poor friend Vee is wondering where I am! I felt really bad, yet I couldn't do anything about it... At times I just felt like a puppet on a string because my dance partner was so much taller.

After 15-20 minutes, I'm exhausted and so heated up that I have to call to stop. (Before, when I say I'm getting hot, Bert just says, "It's ok", ignores me and keeps dancing with me!) A couple next to us, who has been eyeing us enviously for some time, say we are really good. I'm quick to tell them that I don't know how to dance at all, and all the credit goes to Bert. However, the guy looks at me and says, "But you look so professional!" (Was that the word? Oh I've forgotten! It was something nice like that, but I think it's an absolute exaggeration. Or maybe Bert was that good a dance leader?) He seems genuine about it too, and I decide to just take it at face value and let it make me happy. I hope I didn't do all this for nothing, that I didn't make a complete fool of myself... I decide to head to the restroom now (frankly I've had enough) while Bert starts dancing with this guy's partner.

In the restroom, I try to breathe deeply and calm down. My face is flushed red. An African-American lady in uniform comes in, looks at me, and asks if I'm ok. (That bad, huh?) I explain to her what just happened. She seems to understand and asks if it is Giovanni teaching. I nod and don't bother to explain that I never heard a single word from our instructor because I was trying to keep up with Bert. I ask her if she dances salsa. She replies, "No...I work here and I dance, but not salsa..." and gives me the idea that she think it's difficult perhaps? You bet it is. And remember my soy milk? I thank God for it, take it out from my backpack and drink it now.

I put my jacket back on and re-enter the room. Bert's still enjoying himself with the same partner while the guy looks on. I then go out and call D (at many many points during dancing I tell Bert that I probably should call D and tell her to come dance with him, cuz I'm no good). I reach her, but she says she has to study at the library and will have to pass. And then my family calls me and I try to talk to them in the middle of the noise all around. I manage to take a peek into the room again, and Bert is still dancing, but with a different girl. He's crazy!! There're no more people in the room. It's now 3:45, which means he's been dancing for 45 minutes non-stop! That guy is a salsa maniac. It seems like he can't get enough of the stuff. I feel it's probably better manners to say bye, but I'm afraid to stand too close to the dance floor for fear of being pulled onto it again. Instead, I try to catch his eye, then wave at him. At least he has the decency to wave bye back at me...

4 pm: Ok, mission accomplished. Frankly, I could've stayed a little longer to catch all the shows, but it's not fun just going alone, so I decide to leave. (sadly, still no sign of Vee) As I walk slowly back out of the I-House, my whole body feels dead. And I couldn't remember a single thing about salsa, at least not in the way I'd wished. Well, at least I've gotten my workout for today, and I don't need to finish my Pilates routine from this morning, I try to cheer myself up by thinking this. Then, I wear my yellow sunglasses with black frames. I usually don't wear those because they look so Asiany (sorry to offend anyone here; also those other nationalities...), but yellow's our school color and I just can't care too much right now (as you can see, this is one of my favorite phrases of late; used it way too much...). In a way, I just want to tell others: Leave me alone! I need peace and quiet!

And really, it is a beautiful day today: blue skies, sunny yet very breezy. I've this funny feeling that I want to go back in because the fest hasn't ended yet, yet at the same time I'm relieved that I'm out in the open here with nothing to bother me. Soon, I reach a shaded area with stone steps and call home again. And everything is back to its peaceful calm....And if I didn't blog this right now I'd never believe that all this actually happened...Thanks for patiently reading to the end about my day... How did it get so long? Now you understand why I don't blog about life often...

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E-mail: GCat

Open Day Part III

People out here near the entrace are selling Malaysian food (still no sign of Dee...). I see the cream puff girl again and say hi to her. A nice girl stands next to us and patiently explains each and every food item they have. That has never happened before inside the building! The nice guy behind the counter even lets me sample something resembling sweet rice with peanut mixed in it! All the time while he and another guy are making it. It's a wonderful wonderful experience to be treated so nice. I've learned to appreciate it. I guess I've been so spoilt...used to people treating me nice that when they're just normal (i.e. don't do anything), I feel all weird...

Anyway, this is where the trouble begins... I buy one of those coconut "cakes" and try to finish my Okonomiyaki while Vee sees a person she knows and starts chatting with her. She also hands me a free small carton of soy milk since we bought so much food there (Vee gets four fishballs for $1). Since the music (with tin pan percussion) aka noise and people, seem to be all around me again, I retreat back into the entrance a bit, all the while keeping an eye on Vee. the time I look back outside, to my shock and horror Vee is gone! I thought she might've gone to the farther stalls but I can't see her there. I ask the friend she's been talking to about where she is, and the friend tells me Vee has gone back inside! So I rush inside but still can't find her. (This is my version--what good is a blog if you can't state your version of what happened? I'm sure I was just careless...)

At this point you'd probably ask, "Why don't you just call her cell?" Thank you for asking. Yes, I've been so "smart" that I didn't even exchange phone numbers with her! Remember I don't know her well. It never occurred to me that we'd get separated at all. Well, now it's happened. Exhausted, I flop down on a bench near the restrooms, finish my Okonomiyaki (though my hands have gone quite messy at this point), throw away the foil/paper, put the (free!) soy milk in my backpack and eat my coconut cake in silence. People stare at my bright pink dessert as they walk by, but honestly I'm too at a loss to care too much right now. I then get into the restroom and surprise! I see another choir member. She is a German girl with a Greek name who lives in the I-House. After saying hi and washing my hands in the hopelessly hot water, I head back out.

I've hardly time to think of what to do now when double surprise!! I see Dee in her Malaysian costume! I'm so happy at this point to see her. She looks lovely in that dress since she's so slim (I've rarely seen her dress up). She explains that she's not really helping with anything. And here's where a weird episode starts happening... a big tall guy stops next to us and says hi. Dee introduces us. We talk a little. His name is Bert (pronounced with a trilled r and a vowel similar to French) and he's an Econ grad student from Belgium. If you want to know what he looks like, he kinda resembles Brian Cardinal in height and build of the Golden State Warriors if you watch the NBA. This piece of info will make sense if you've the patience to read on...

In the meantime, Dee is stopped by an Asian guy who looks really bored (the hanging lower lip, about my height, stocky build, droopy shoulders, bushy hair) but is holding a camera. Dee, always the little PR person, cheerfully says hi to him. He wants to take pictures, of course. I remark to Dee, "You're dressed so prettily that you have to get your picture taken!" D smiles. I ask the photo guy what his name is and he boredly replies, "Alan". So, at first I presume he wants to take pictures of people at the party (us 3). Then I quickly realize he just needs to take a picture of D (presumably because she's in costume?) Ok.... I try to tell myself: this is a good thing because memories of all these people in costume (I agree I love all the costumes: the Robin Hood style ones were my favorite) will be made. So Bert and I stand aside while Dee smiles for the camera. Then an Indian girl comes...Dee hugs her...they get their pic taken together...this time by both Alan and Bert's digital! Double ok... Then, the suspected boyfriend appears as well, and he seems to be keeping Dee's cell phone for her...interesting... and he and Bert exchange some words.

3 pm: After all the socializing, Bert announces that there seems to be "salsa instruction" starting at 3:15, and he wants to go. However, D says she has to meet up with her host family first, so I say I'll call her later. I'm not sure what "salsa instruction" means. Isn't salsa supposed to be one of those "sexy dances"? Isn't it supposed to be really complicated? How can people learn salsa in one session? I tell Bert, "I don't dance at all." He doesn't seem to mind and is still intent on going together. I shrug and follow. At the very least I can watch how Bert and the others learn it, I tell myself.

When we get there, it's still early and there's no one there yet. We meet the instructor who's called Giovanni (he kinda resembles the host in Fear Factor if you've watched that show) and I say hi to him (he and Bert know each other). They hit it off immediately. They start conversing in rapid Spanish I suppose (I know from talking to Bert that he speaks Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian?, and learned Latin). Bert can't wait to get started and tries out some steps on the dance floor, without music. And that's when I'm stunned. He looks like a pro--why would he need lessons? It turns out he just wants to have some music to dance to. I'm like standing in front of him with my mouth hanging open. Then he takes my hands and wants me to dance with him. And I think, "Are you crazy? I can't do that!" Then it kinda dawns on me why he's been quite friendly and seemingly open to coming here together (I thought he was just a nice down-to-earth guy). It's because he just needs a dance partner. And I happen to be female. Well, this realization is a tad bit too late right?

I'm utterly confused, laugh and say I cannot dance, I really can't. Bert hesitates only for a sec and then takes up my hands again, intending to teach me. He tries to teach me the rhythm and the basic step, all the while reminding me to take smaller steps. Salsa kinda reminds me of Chacha, but Chacha (the kind I learned in high school) was much easier by comparison. This is so syncopated! Anyway, he teaches me some steps without music. I try to follow doggedly. At this point there aren't many people around. I was mistaken to believe that there'd be enough people for Bert to dance with. So actually I'm doing him a favor! I try to tell myself...

Then the music comes on, and it's at least 3-4 times faster than what we've been practising. It is just too much for me. Even Bert says it's too fast a song for beginners. There are now 2-3 other couples on stage. Giovanni introduces himself and tries to teach people the basic front step/back step. His demonstration partner is a fashionable blonde wearing a pink frilly skirt that is really (and I mean really) short, and she has strappy heels on! Clearly professional looking. I'm just wearing flats, jeans and my pale yellow t-shirt...
(end of Part III)

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E-mail: GCat

Open Day Part II

The first thing I notice once I get into the I-House with my friend Vee is that it's quite dark and there're lots of people there. Right in front are people selling jewelry. I try to take a look and then I see a familiar face! The girl used to be in choir together with me. She and her friend are carrying a plate of something resembling cream puffs. She offers me some, and I eagerly proceed to take one. Then, she says, "They're a dollar for two!" and explains to me that one is mango-flavored and the other is "kana"? flavored (coconut I think if memory serves me right). Since she's made them herself and since I do like cream puffs, I pay and give one to Vee.

We go into the auditorium where there're lots of stalls selling things you'd expect to see at a Museum Gift Shop: beaded necklaces, colorful percussive instruments, light shawls, wooden animals, intricate mini handbags with shimmering flat discs sewn in ($25.99 for just one small one! agh!), etc. We catch a glimpse of the end part of an Israeli Dance performance on the stage. I later realize that you had to pay for 90% of the food here! Which is understandable now that I think of it.

We then head to another area where there are mostly European countries with tables set up. Food was nowhere to be seen (Vee had told me earlier that she had wanted to feast on international cuisine..) except for a table that had cookies and cornbread (which you had to pay for!), measly sandwiches, biscuits, and milk tea. We get some free milk tea as a big European-looking guy with a square jaw serves us.

While we are wandering around, we spot people in the outdoors. We are wondering how to get out there when a strong breeze blows open a patio door, allowing us to go outside... Here, people are cooking in a row, and there's bustling activity! A Chinese guy is cooking dumplings and graciously serving someone in front of him. Vee asks him if people have to pay for it, and he says it's free. What happens next...I end up being slightly put off because he seems unwilling to give a dumpling to Vee, and when she asks if she could get one more for me, the guy responds, "Yeah, serve yourself." Well, why is he serving all those other people? with a smiley face? Anyway, I try not to let it get to me, shrug it off and head down the aisle.

I notice we're on the second floor. Below us is an open courtyard with chairs laid out and a guy is playing guitar and singing some lively-paced song. A light breeze is blowing and people below seem to be relaxed and enjoying themselves... Frankly, I'm much more interested in listening than in crowding around food stalls where they give you so little food for $5 at every stall... People at the Italian stall are cheering some random guy on because he's drinking a whole bowl of something...alcohol maybe? And it is really loud. I then see the Dutch table with the preppy blondes helping out... A guy with square brownish sunglasses starts talking to me and I realize he wants to sell the Greek food at his stall. I ask him if he's Greek and he says yes. Then Vee emerges from the crowd with something like French bread with tomatoes on top, and she hands one to me. The Greek guy then shouts, "Why does everyone get Italian! Get Greek food here!"

I then catch another familiar face! It's my friend Dee! She's at the courtyard below wearing a close-fitting Malaysian costume that suits her perfectly. It resembles a Singapore Airlines uniform. I really want to say hello to her but then I see a tall Caucasian guy with glasses (about her age also, maybe a grad student) speaking to her and standing really (and I mean really) close. As I see it, it seems that he's more into her than she him. He keeps looking straight at her, but she only glances at him briefly and looks around a lot. Or maybe I'm just bad at guessing these things...So at this point I'm not sure if I should go down and say hi. I tell Vee what I think and she listens amusedly.

Eventually we get down there anyway (can't see Dee anymore) and there's more food stalls. The music has ended, but people in period costumes are performing a play. It turns out to be Romeo and Juliet. A tall guy is playing the Nurse, all for the fun of it! I see a sign which reads "Okonomiyaki" and for some reason relief washes over me. Vee sees the sign too and asks me what it is. Finally, something familiar!! Something Japanese!! I explain to her that it's sort of a pancake made with special sauce. In fact, I've special memories of it since my brother used to buy the mix and the sauce, and then he would treat the family with his rarely-used cooking skills and cook some for us! Thanks Chris! Ah the good old days... So we both get one (they're only $2 each!) and the Japanese people running it are really helpful, cheerful and friendly. It's as if I can be on an equal plane with them. The Okonomiyaki turns out to be really good too (we didn't get the Choco Banana since half of one costs $1, though they are decorated with colorful swirls on the chocolate part--so cute!). Then I realize why I'm so relieved: it's the first time that I'm truly comfortable, relaxed, and happy. I guess I've had too little contact with European people in the past and they just seem threatening or whatever, making me nervous. Maybe it's because they're so tall in the first place... Some of them just seem to want to make friends with people who come from the same country as they do (perhaps trying to cajole those international students to come to our school and stay at I-House). Am I being too harsh? Where is my school pride?

Anyway, we manage to get some mini potatoes in a special sauce. Maybe I'm just not loud enough: the people usually respond to Vee's questions better than to mine. I guess I'm just too intimidated to ask directly. I later realize that if people can't hear me, they've no way of knowing if I know English? Since this is the International House... Vee also gets a cup of fruit drink that she later finds out has alcohol in it. Also, we wander to a small art exhibit with absolutely no one in it, then grab some free lemonade there...Then, since Vee wants to check out the activities at the main entrance, we head back outside...
(end of Part II)

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E-mail: GCat

Open Day Part I

I'm going to blog about what happened today, although I'm quite exhausted. Usually I refrain from blogging about everyday stuff here because it's usually not too interesting. However, today was the Open Day at my university, so I did some stuff that was not routine, which is good for me occasionally, I think.

10 am: I awake from my slumber, say a little prayer, and thank God for good weather today! It's because I'll be heading out later. For breakfast, I eat Kellogg's Fruit Harvest with strawberries and peaches. What's more, I add real strawberries to the mix. Cool, huh? I've never done that before and I must say it's rather nice. Thanks mom!
Then I cheat a little and eat some smoked salmon as well. I must confess that I felt I was living quite a luxurious life just by eating the strawberries and salmon! It's a good feeling to have every once in a while. In fact, right now I'm eating salad with strawberries and salmon mixed in with it. Yum.

11 am: I then do what you can call daily devotion. I first catch up on my Daily Light and tear down the page on my daily calendar of bible verses: "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9. I pray that it is so! Then I read the Bible. Today's passage is 2 Corinthians chapter 13. I read it in English, then Chinese, then try to ponder at the questions in my study bible. It is also the last chapter from 2 Corinthians so I'm quite glad.

11:30 am: I see that I'm running later than I should. I take a quick shower to wake myself up. And unwilling to just leave like that, I sneak in part of my routine for Pilates. You know it's great because the deep breathing makes me more relaxed in preparation for singing! And I've to do just that at noon. So with only 7 minutes left until noon, I dash out the door...

noon: I arrive at the building where we're giving an open rehearsal to anyone interested in listening to the Messiah. I'm glad to see my friends and that the chorus people are still standing around outside. Eventually, we go in and sit down in our respective sections (soprano alto tenor bass). After some pointers from our Music Director (MD), we go onstage. She asks me to stand in the front row (agh) probably because I've absolutely no lung power.
Everything goes fairly well and the people below applaud in the end. People are mostly on their formal behavior on stage, except that the tenor next to me asks me twice where in the music we are at, and the alto next to me asks if she could borrow my pencil. Needless to say, I know both of them and I definitely would also have offered my help at any other regular rehearsal. I don't know why I'm saying this. I guess I just found it sweet that our everyday behavior seeped through a little during that public rehearsal.

1pm: Some of us in chorus stay around to listen to the Chamber Chorus, who's a much smaller, elite group of some 30 singers singing a cappella. They're really good! And unlike us, where we really rehearsed, they actually performed flawlessly. I particularly liked the tango piece and the one where many in the chorus mimicked sounds in the tropical rainforest. For example, one person did a high-pitched "wawawawa" really fast.... It was all so realistic and entertaining!! And in perfect rhythm too.

2 pm: One of the girls in the choir wanted to go to a party that was taking place at the International House, but she had no one to go with her (she was planning on going alone). Although I didn't know her too well, I figured going together would definitely be more fun. Besides, I've never participated in that party before and wanted to see what it was all about. So after some strolling around at some tables introducing most of the uni's majors, we head to I-House.

We were happy to know that students get in for free! That's good considering that the regular fee is $6. Needless to say, I later found out, that there seemed to be very few high schoolers (prospective students) and more just people from the area, inside. This is presumably because it'd be very expensive if the whole family had to pay (people 18 and under had free admission though). Or maybe people just looked tall to me...

We get our wristbands and proceed through the doors...
(end of Part I)

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Friday, April 16, 2004

When is your birth day?

Came across this randomly at a cute blog. Perhaps I've seen this somewhere before, but I must've forgotten. I think except for one person, it's quite true for the people I know if I interpret them correctly. However, it's harder to tell with the love life section *rolls eyes and fakes a faint* since that is quite a personal matter unless you're a blabber, haha... Total insight or absolute nonsense? As with everything else, only you know...

Is your birthday day 1 of the month?
Your Life
You are very curious and dedicative. When you are interested in something, everything else has to wait. This is your quality. But if you learn to be more patient and complete what you have started, you will be successful in life.
You believe in love at first sight. You won't wait to learn more about the person. Vice versa, people who fail to impress you will hardly get a chance to be your friend. Your emotion is on the extreme. You can only love or hate, nothing in between and this often shows in your _expression. Try not to end a relationship in a quarrel.

Is your birthday day 2 of the month?
Your Life
You have great common sense but usually fail to follow through. This might happens because you are too busy with your mission and shut yourself from the outside world. You are clever and profound so there's a slight chance for self-control problem.
Your love progress slowly, and quietly. You seem to be contented with your unrequited love. Your are a romantic and loyal lover.

Is your birthday day 3 of the month?
Your Life
Although you are innocent and romantic but your _expression often mislead others that you are an active, fun loving kid. Because of your double personality, it's hard for others to really know the real you. You are careful and patient.
Your love is the greatest which often surprises others. No one can bring you to light when you are in love. Your confidence
might lead you to the track your parents disagree.

Is your birthday day 4 of the month?
Your Life
You usually think before acting which makes your life quite easy. But you often are the one who give yourself a hard time by being paranoid. People might not truly understand you but you are really nice to be around. You are cheerful and friendly.
Still water runs deep, that's what you are. You always surprise others with your new character when you are in love. Your love trap often comes unexpectedly and your love life is full of surprises.

Is your birthday day 5 of the month?
Your Life
Although you are on the quiet side, but you enjoy excitement and changes. Routine is something you cannot stand. Because of your extreme confidence, you hardly ask others for opinion. You believe in leading your own life, and you have got the gift in doing so.
Nothing can stop you from making progress in your love life. Once you are in love, you feel the ownership of your lover. A third party can only makes your jealousy becomes worse.

Is your birthday day 6 of the month?
Your Life
You are generous with people in need, sometimes to an extreme that people find you nosey. Your hidden courage and dedication often surprise others. Your imagination is extremely unique.
Your love life is on the smooth track because it grows from friendship. Although you may not make a sweet lover but your sincerity bring happiness to your couple.

Is your birthday day 7 of the month?
Your Life
You are sensitive to changes around you but your feeling is hardly expressed. You hate exaggerations. Under your quiet personality, you are rather stubborn and self-centered. These qualities are the force behind your extreme persistence.
You have enormous courage to please your lover. Your relationship often progress quickly.

Is your birthday day 8 of the month?
Your Life
You have pleasant and friendly personality. People look u to your wit and imagination. You are unpredictable and hardly complete what you started, which sometimes create negative impact to people around you.
Falling in love becomes your routine. Most of the time you are lucky. You fascinate people with good taste but you never have enough with one. Although your love progresses very fast, it never lasts.

Is your birthday day 9 of the month?
Your Life
You often have problem in promoting yourself, just because you don't know how to express your true self. On the other hand, you don't really care what they think. This is why people misunderstand you until they really get a chance to learn about your pleasant personality.
Opposite sex find you mysterious and worth searching. Your wit is remarkable but sometimes you are too fast to follow.
You won't reveal your feeling even after dreaming about the same guy over and over. Your first love lasts forever. You are responsible to the feeling of your lover. The chance to betray your lover is none. You have luck with children.

Is your birthday day 10 of the month?
Your Life
You are very capable. If you are a woman, you have high chance to be a renowned workingwoman. If you are a man, your path to fame and honor is near. As an innovator, you are not a good follower. You are good in implementing your imagination and share it with
others. You are always well dressed.
You often lose your love ones from being too jealous. You always feel like you own the person you fall in love with and that often blows your relationship.

Is your birthday day 11 of the month?
Your Life
You are gracious, elegant and prudent. People admire your qualities and some even become jealous of you. You are realistic, flexible and adaptable. You are remarkably kind and moral person.
You are willing to sacrifice yourself for the one you love. Your lover will always have your gentleness, care and loyalty. You will always be happy to hand around the one you love.

Is your birthday day 12 of the month?
Your Life
You are friendly, humorous and full of energy. You are open-minded and do not care for minor details. Your weak point is your hot temper.
You are willing to start off in one-sided love affairs because you strongly believe that you will eventually win his/her heart. On the other hand, once you are together, you always want to do things your way, which is often the fire starter. You usually run in and out of love quickly.

Is your birthday day 13 of the month?
Your Life
You are sincere and easy going. Flattering and charming around are not your style. You care so much for freedom that often leads you to the difficult path. Because of your sincerity, most people find you easy to be around although you are sometimes too straightforward.
Your gentleness, care and sincerity make you an attractive person. Eventhough you don't intend to be charming, but you naturally are, especially in the eyes of opposite sex.

Is your birthday day 14 of the month?
Your Life
You are so confident that sometimes you forget about the people around you. If you have to be in one of the two teams, you will choose to be in the winning team. On the other hand, you are kind and caring but above all, you care for your own benefits. Your imagination is
unique and often gets implemented shortly after it comes across.
You will not get soft with the one you don't really like, no matter how hard he/she tries. But once you feel for someone you have chosen, there's no getting back.

Is your birthday day 15 of the month?
Your Life
You are outgoing and love to be at the center of attention. From the outside, you may seem flashy, flirty, and tricky but your true self is strong, full of hope to be the leader. When you
fail to convince someone, you will get frustrated, and perhaps let your temper shows.
You are emotional. Many can win your heart at once, but not for long. This is why you hardly win a decent relationship.

Is your birthday day 16 of the month?
Your Life
You always follow the good and the right instead of listening to your heart. Another word, you are a perfectionist. You care for every word people say about you. You often seen isolated while you are, by nature, curious and a dreamer who is ready to get over the edge to make
your dream comes true.
You often fall in love with a person who is much different from you, in age and other aspects. Your relationship grows on friendship. Love at fist sight is not your style.

Is your birthday day 17 of the month?
Your Life
You neither want to be interfered nor have the desire to mess with others' life. But you are friendly and occasionally a party animal. You are always in a circle of friends. You often do things in your own way that occasionally go beyond the acceptable limit. People may find you childish and not very attractive in that sense.
Your fun-loving character attracts opposite sex. Many of those are great.You often find yourself trapped among a few great guys while you have to choose only one.

Is your birthday day 18 of the month?
Your Life
At first glance, people think you are quiet type of person. Actually you are cheerful, but conditionally. You will show your joyful character only in good mood. One the other hand, when you are moody, no one would dare to be around. Because of your emotion fluctuation and frank character, some find you hard to be around.
You hardly show your feeling towards opposite sex no matter how much you like him/her. Your partner also has similar character so your love affairs often take quite a while to flourish. Time tells it all. Your sincerity makes you very attractive.

Is your birthday day 19 of the month?
Your Life
You are great in managing everything in your life and this is how you gain respect from others. Because of this quality, you sometimes feel that you are better than the rest. Extreme confidence might lead you to the wrong path. You are a free bird and want to lead your
own life.
You love life is rather different from others'. When you are in love, nothing can stop you. You may often fight with your partner but, soon after that, you will make up in a way that surprises others.

Is your birthday day 20 of the month?
Your Life
You are prudent, circumspect and take things seriously. Before you make any move, you will think of a few alternatives that might take a while. You are patient, imaginative and target oriented. You value friendship more than anything else.
You usually study your partner carefully before making any move. You never demand anything beyond the natural quality of that person. Your sincerity doesn't bring excitement in your love life but it brings deeply grown relationship.

Is your birthday day 21 of the month?
Your Life
You are curious and a true follower. You can please someone so much that it seem like you are trying to charm that person. You hide your disagreement under your smiling face. This is a charming quality of yours.
You are quite unlucky in love. You are loved by someone you don't like while your dream man is so far away. Your love life is occasionally under turbulence. Sometimes you don't have the clear view of the guy in your heart.

Is your birthday day 22 of the month?
Your Life
You have the boss character, but not a leader. Most people look up to you for your capability and confidence although they find you quite stubborn. You should listen more to others. You are a unique and charming individual.
You hardly take the moderate track. You either love or hate someone. Whom you call friends are the chosen ones. If any of them betray you, you won't let them get away without having hard time.

Is your birthday day 23 of the month?
Your Life
You never live your life in the way others want you to. You are an independent individual who loves challenges and excitement. You are ready to face with the result of your decision. You are usually the one your friends count on.
Because you love excitements, you occasionally get involved in forbidden love affairs. You may fall in love with a married person and no one can stop you from making progress. You are very charming, although you might not realize it.

Is your birthday day 24 of the month?
Your Life
You are very optimistic and that's why you always enjoy life. You are gifted in entertaining others. Your friends love and trust you. You'll be the first they come to when they are in need of someone to speak their heart out.
Sometimes you fall in love just because you want to be in love, not that you really like that person. You always be seen as a sweet couple but you can't really get over your love ones from past. Your partner is usually crazy about you because you are remarkably charming and

Is your birthday day 25 of the month?
Your Life
You are a warrior. No obstacle can stop you from reaching your goal. You always keep yourself busy. This quality plus your responsibility will eventually bring you success.
You adore your partner as the number one priority. You value your love one
more than yourself. Your love is the greatest of all and your have potential
to get married young.

Is your birthday day 26 of the month?
Your Life
You are always curious and responsive to changes. Routine life is not the way you choose to live. Travelling is your favorite hobby because excitement is what you are after.
You will not stand being around the one you dislike. Your love comes and goes quickly. You can be deeply in love but soon after you will be looking around for the next one.

Is your birthday day 27 of the month?
Your Life
You are sensitive and vulnerable. Tears often run down your cheeks even when the matter is not that bad. This might be the result from being to pessimistic. You might seem cold on the shell, but your inner self is a kind loving person.
You will be elegantly dressed, no matter how casually dressed your date may be. You are emanding in love and sometimes to an unacceptable extend.

Is your birthday day 28 of the month?
Your Life
You are a capable person but you usually underestimate your own ability. This is the cause of missing numbers of opportunity to step forward. If you try to give yourself a chance, you can be successful in life. Try to see things on the bright side and you will be happier than ever.
You are quite unlucky in love. The one in your arm is not the one in your heart. Your love has so many ups and downs. You often chicken out before seeing any progress in love.

Is your birthday day 29 of the month?
Your Life
You can trust your sixth sense. Life is exciting so routine job is not your interest. You have great ideas and fantastic imagination. You often feel tired of things and people around you.
You can tell what's in the mind of another person just from looking into his/her eyes. You are paranoid and jealous and these are the cause of fights between you and your lover.
Sometimes the thing you believe in is just your imagination.

Is your birthday day 30 of the month?
Your Life
You are always surrounded by a circle of friends. You are friendly and fun to be with. Though you occasionally disappoint them by being stubborn, but over all, they love your qualities.
You want to have full control of your love and that's not a nice way to treat your partner. You take your time in saying yes to his wedding proposal or if you are a man, you will not propose anyone until you are certainly confident which might take ages.

Is your birthday day 31 of the month?
Your Life
Your emotion is hard to predict. You can be sad this minute and happy in the next. People might find it difficult to follow your emotion and understand you. You tend to take things seriously.
You take your time to study a person before falling in love. Once you decide that he or she is the one, no one can stop you from making progress, even your partner.

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Would you like a mint under your pillow, ma'm?

Just came back from church. No, not for service. It'll be the place where we'll be singing the Messiah! We just wanted to test the space and acoustics in there. It's a pretty plain church, with grayish blue walls, simple chandeliers (I almost typed wimple, oops) which basically are just tiered candlesticks grouped together. The windows do not have stain on them (how do people describe non-stained glass windows?) and the walls are plain. Very high ceiling though, which makes every sound we make reverberate more than we're used to! Altogether a very puritan feeling kinda church. Yet I don't think I'm complaining. I hope it'll be the music sung to God that will shine next week.

Some people forgot to bring pencils on stage, but amazingly, there was a basket of pencils right in front of the organ! It was like a miracle... I suppose they have them so people can write down their tithe offerings. I should've known! Plus they also have a basket of cough drops handy. Whether those are for the church choir or us, people next to me took them anyway! It just felt we were very well provided for, whether it was intentional or not.

I also sneaked a peak at the program from the Easter Sunday service. What, it was just lying around in front of me! On the front page, I saw Handel's "I Know My Redeemer Liveth" was being played as a sort of prelude perhaps. That alone gave me a warm feeling inside. It also got me wondering, "Will the people who attend this church attend the concert? What kind of people will come?" It doesn't really matter as long as people do come...

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Saturday, April 10, 2004


Have you ever known people in their eighties who're vibrant and full of life,
yet you also know twenty-somethings who just wished everything would end soon?
How do you feel about that?

What's the secret to being happy?
On a side note, I asked a 33-year-old who looked like she was years younger what she did to keep looking young.
She said: 1) keep happy and 2) use eye gel *smile*

Going out into the sun certainly helps. Walking to the market every day to buy food is even better. That's what my grandmother does! Just walk every day.... though I'm not Dr. Phil or whatever...

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"Light" and the Problem with Metaphors

New lyrics started in September now finalized and up. Html is messy but at least I got the Arial font! I'm so not a computer person... They're in time for Easter too, though they're not originally meant for Easter.

My first attempt at writing my very own lyrics, instead of traslating from the japanese, haha... It came about because I wasn't patient enough to wait for the translation to come along. It has a Christian theme too. I've always been intrigued how God is our Light in the darkness.

The content of the lyrics came about when a sad incident with schoolwork jerked me into a phase of contemplation and creativity. I was taking a class about Metaphor. The only problem was that it wasn't your regular English class, but one that treated metaphors as a topic in Cognitive Science! And naturally, the class was filled w/ CogSci majors, which made the gradings very competitive. Pressure!!

At one point, our class was asked to churn out a paper analyzing a certain metaphor, and I had absolutely no clue how to do the assignment. Basically, I panicked, procrastinated, and only came up w/ a measly paper about half the length of what it was supposed to be! I basically wrote a bunch of bs. It was certainly Not something that could be handed in! However, little did I know that I could have saved my GPA if I handed that half-paper in. It turned out that no one understood that assignment, but everyone who handed something in did better than me, who handed it in late. (The grade automatically drops with each successive day after the deadline.) So in the end, I got a B- for that class, and that pulled down my entire GPA! arggh! This was the first time in my life that I suffered the consequences of bombing it academically. It was painful, but it gave me perspective - my helplessness turned me back to Him.

Site: Garnet Sea
E-mail: GCat