31 October 2010 @ 09:16 pm
Personal Entry No. 60  
Happy Halloween, everyone! It's never too late to go trick-or-treating, you know.

Anyway, I'm sitting here trying to eat an over-caramelized apple in celebration, even though the city I'm in right now is supposedly big on Halloween -- at least, that's what my Japanese professor says, but I don't feel safe enough to go out alone at night. On top of that, I don't have any means of getting a costume, barring the chance that I become bold enough to go as myself.

My school itself "celebrated" on Friday, with discussions on Halloween in Japan monopolizing our first Japanese professor's lecture on the tea ceremony, our second Japanese professor bringing candy to our drill class in a beautiful lacquered box, and our history professor including Jack-o'-Lanterns in her slide show on Japan's takeover of Manchuria. (My I.R. and Russian professors didn't do anything, but to be fair Halloween has no place in discussions of international relations, and it still isn't very popular in Russia. I think my Russian professor would actually be happy to know that Novosibirsk just celebrated its first Halloween. She has two little sons, so I imagine she took them out trick-or-treating around the neighborhood earlier this weekend -- they're so cute!)

On a different note: I normally try not to talk that much about my personal problems or normal news from my daily life, as I worry that you would all find that boring. However, if you'll bear with me, I'd like to write about something that happened to me a few days ago.


The performances of the Carmina Burana went excellently -- we got standing ovations at both concerts, and the soloists were nothing short of amazing. I'm a little relieved that it's over, though, since the workload for the Chorale has lessened, making my voice lessons and Community Chorus rehearsals on Monday more bearable.

Last Monday was still a little difficult for me, though. I'm working on Franz Schubert's "Heidenröslein" (a very pretty but somewhat unsettling song) with my very patient voice teacher, and it's going well enough. Unfortunately, I felt kind of strained last week, and I left my lesson with the feeling that my teacher wasn't all that pleased with my work. Still, that's all and well: I think I could definitely work harder on it.

I always have Japanese drill immediately after my voice lesson on Mondays, so that got my mind off of my voice pretty quickly. After that, I had about three hours for homework, Internet, and dinner before Community Chorus rehearsal, which I wasn't particularly looking forward to. You see, we're working on Haydn's "Nelson" mass, which despite being a demanding piece is a little repetitive, especially compared to something so lyrically and harmonically bombastic as Orff's Carmina Burana.

And by "repetitive," I mean "boring." Really boring. So boring that I feel like curling up in my coat and going to sleep whenever my section isn't singing. We have a new director this year, so of course I don't want to disappoint him by doing less than my best, but...the Mass is not demanding much by way of emotional investment. I'm sure it'll sound wonderful when we're done with it, though -- especially since we have some selections from Mozart to help liven up the program!

Setting that tangent aside, rehearsal last Monday seemed even longer than usual -- it's always a full two hours, and our break isn't set in stone, so it probably was longer than usual. I ended up arriving late for some reason, and had to squeeze into the last pew of the Alto section while everyone else was warming up. This was made a little more uncomfortable due to the fact that most of the members of the Community Chorus are not students, but older residents of the surrounding city; I am the only Alto under the age of 30, and while the ladies are very friendly, I do feel as if I can't talk to them. I don't know the other students in the Chorus that well, either, so when our break finally rolled around at sometime past 8:00, I quietly slipped out of our pew and headed to the back of the chapel.

We normally don't rehearse in the chapel, but the ceiling collapsed on the room in the Music Department which we previously used (you can thank the school administration for that!). Nobody was hurt, thankfully, and the ceiling was just a hastily-constructed drop ceiling meant to conceal the room's former use as a gymnasium; however, the room still needed to be cleared out and tested for asbestos, so we all had to move to the chapel for rehearsals. It was a blessing in disguise: the chapel, as to be expected, has great acoustics, and it's much more pleasant to look at.

I'm going off on another tangent, though. As it was, I was feeling tired and a little down due to my voice lesson earlier, and so during the rehearsal break I went off by myself to look at the paintings in the back of the chapel. The paintings, just generic depictions of the symbols of the Four Evangelists and angels saving sinners, are a little disturbing: the faces of the angels are both blank and stern, and all of the figures have unpleasantly-elongated limbs. They're the single jarring feature of an otherwise plain but pretty church, and I'm still not quite sure why I decided to go look at them that night.

I examined the paintings for a few minutes, and noticed to my left a small door leading outside. I knew this not because I had ever actually used the door, but because I recalled seeing its other side while walking to the Chaplain's house several times -- I had even taken a picture of it, since it's painted a very picturesque red that pops out of the stone walls of the chapel.

Feeling worn out and almost surely knowing that the small door would take me outside and on my way back to my room, I decided to call it a night and go home. The Chorus director was understanding when I asked him for permission to leave, so I didn't really need to sneak out the back, but I wanted to see if the little door really was open all the time -- I had assumed up to that point that it was locked due to lack of use. At around 8:10, near the end of our break, I headed back to the rear of the chapel and opened the door to go outside.

Unfortunately, I was wrong: the door actually led to a cramped set of stairs. Instead of turning around and going out through the other door, however, I realized that the stairs could lead to the bell tower of the chapel, which until then I had thought inaccessible. Technically having an hour before my normal Monday-night curfew, I decided to explore the bell tower, take photos, and possibly gloat about my adventures to my friends -- and you, had I actually managed to take the photos.

The stairs went straight up along the eastern face of the chapel, then began winding around in a rectangle around its ceiling, forming the castle-like base of the bell tower. (An interesting note: while construction of the chapel itself was completed in 1863, the bell tower was only added in 1961. The "bell" is actually a 142-bell carillon that doesn't see enough use.) I had become excited at first, but as I walked up into the higher and colder reaches of the tower, my excitement was gradually replaced by exhaustion and an increasing sense of loneliness. After a few minutes going up the stairs, I couldn't hear the Community Chorus anymore.

It took me a long time, but I finally reached the top of the stairs and found the ladder leading up to the bell tower proper. To my horror, the door in the ceiling was locked -- I was going to have to go all the way back down the stairs to the chapel, where the Chorus was probably still rehearsing, and try to sneak out without the directer noticing. That would be embarrassing for anyone, but in my somewhat-depressed state of mind, I just couldn't take another blow to my self-esteem: I was going to either wait in the stairwell until rehearsal ended at 9:00, or pick the lock leading up to the bell tower.

I took my thick gloves off and starting jimmying the lock; it gave very easily, even though it was new (at least, it looked new enough for potentially being forty years old). I propped up the door, pushed myself through, and found myself in the very cold, very cramped spire of the tower -- no bells to be seen, of course. The only windows had thick metal slats, so there was almost no light except for my cell phone and watch. It was incredibly unpleasant, so I decided to head back down and wait near the bottom of the stairs; I put my cell phone into my purse and started feeling around with my feet for the ladder.

That was when I found it: a bound stack of letters shoved into a corner near the door. I probably wouldn't even had felt it if I still had my gloves on.

Now, I'm very much a believer in the spirits of things. If a set of letters have been left alone together for a long time, they've likely gathered a lot of memories -- memories not necessarily important to anyone still living, but formed from the feelings of the people who wrote them and kept them. As such, one shouldn't just pick them up and move them around as if they were just plain stacks of paper.

I was not in a good mood, though: I was cold; I was frustrated with myself; and I was filled with enough self-pity to fill the whole of Lake Seneca. The long ascent up the stairs had given me time to reflect on my conduct during the day, but I hadn't come to terms with myself and thus remained determined to remain miserable. Wanting to make something out of my wasted effort, I gathered up the pack of letters under my arm and made my way down from the spire. It was past 9:00 by this point, and I had to get up early for my I.R. class on Tuesday morning, but that didn't matter to me as much as getting back to the chapel, breaking open the letters, and making myself feel clever and insightful by reading them. (Yes, that sounds incredibly stupid in retrospect.)

When I made it back to the chapel, I sat down in a pew near the paintings and started to untie the strings around the letters, which had become very yellowed and worn with age -- they were beginning to crumble in my hands. I finally got the topmost letter free and gingerly pulled it out of its envelope, which surprisingly had neither stamps nor address. The handwriting was fortunately legible and very clear for its age, so I began reading in earnest.

I should not have begun to read that letter. I say "begun" because it alone stretched across several pages, and I couldn't even make it past the very first. This was not a love letter, or a letter to a friend, or a letter from home -- nothing filled with happy memories or human emotions! I can't imagine a human being writing something like that letter: mulling over what words to use -- what words to use to describe that! -- thinking about it while copying those words out in neat, normal handwriting, sealing it in an envelope like just another postcard! Only several paragraphs down the page my arms began to shake, and I stared about the chapel with the sense that I was sitting in a world exactly like the one I had been in five minutes before, only subtly infinitely more wrong.

In the end, I was too frightened to go back up to the spire of the bell tower. I placed the letters as far up the stairs as I could manage, then ran out into the campus, the grass made cold and damp by the onset of deep fall.

And the whole time, all I could think was, "Is this real life? Or is it just fantasy?"

Caught in a landslide--
No escape from reality...
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and seeeeeeee...
I'm just a poor girl (Poor girl)
I need no sympathy!
Because I'm ea-sy come, ea-sy go
Lit-tle high, lit-tle low
Any way the wind blows
Doesn't really matter to meeee...

...tooo me.

Mama...just killed a man...
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead.
Mama...life had just begun...
But now I've gone and thrown it aaaaaall awaaaay!
Mamaaaaaaaa! Oo-ooo-oooooh!
Didn't mean to make you cry
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow
Carry ooooon, carry oooon...as if nothing really matteeeeerrs...

Too laaaate. My time has come.
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body's aching all the tiiiime.
Goodbye, everybody!
I've got to goooo.
Gotta leave you all behind and fa-aaaace the truuuth!
Mamaaaaaa! Ooo-ooooo-oooooooh! (Anyway the wind blows...)
I don't want to die
Sometimes wish I'd never been born at a-aaall!

(epic guitar solo)
(suddenly breaks into mincing piano)

I see a little silhouetto of a mahn
Scaramouch, Scaramouch, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening ME!
(Galileo) Galileo (Galileo) Galileo, Galileo Fi-ga-ro!
Magnifico-o-o-o-o!
I'm just a poor girl, nobody loves me
She's just a poor girl from a poor family
Spare her her life from this mon-strosity!

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bis-mill-ah! No, we will not let you go.
Let her gooooo!
Bis-mill-ah! We will not let you go.
Let her gooooo!
Bis-mill-ah! We will not let you go
Let me gooo!
(Will not let you go.)
Let me gooo!
(Will not let you go never, never, never, never)
Let me go-o-o-o-o
No, no, no, no, no, no, no!
(Oh mama mia, mama mia!) Mama Mia, let me go!
Beelzebub has the devil put aside for meeeee...
...for meeeeee...
...for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

So you think you can stone me and spit in my ey-ey-eye?!
So you think you can love me and leave me to di-i-ie?!
Ooooooh baaaab-aaaay!
Can't do this to me, baaaaab-aaaaaay!
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta he-yaaah.

(even more epic guitar solo)

(Oooh yeah, Oooh yeah!)

Nothing really matters...
Anyone can see...
Nothing really matters...
Nothing really matters to meeeee.


Any way the wind blows...



On another note, a warm welcome to [livejournal.com profile] knuddeluff!
 
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[identity profile] asherfoxx.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
.............

Was that a trick?
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
Why do you ask?

Did You Know?
Freddie Mercury explained that he and his bandmates chose the name "Queen" due to the word's immediate, universal sense of regality. Self-professed "researchers" of the band claim that it was, in fact, named for a kangaroo named "Queenie" of whom Mercury was particularly fond.
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[identity profile] asherfoxx.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
Because it's creepy and Halloween and cuts off into Queen lyrics.
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
I'll have you know that everything up to "I examined the paintings for a few minutes..." was absolutely true!

Did You Know?
I received a telegram from a kangaroo this morning telling me that I could stop it with the "Did You Know?" segments.
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[identity profile] asherfoxx.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
Well, I suppose I should thank you. I almost watched some Marble Hornets, but this creeped me out. /wuss

Actually, I did know that. I was the one who paid François to deliver that message.
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 2nd, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
If this creeped you out, then I'm glad I was able to save you from Marble Hornets!

His name was François? He was really polite and well-groomed -- I liked his chicory-blue gloves.
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[identity profile] lavender88.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Halloween was completely non-existent for me. I went to the park with my family that evening which was filled to the brim with kids playing (unconcerned about ghosts and spooks), had a normal dinner that wasn't made up of brains and blood and went to bed early.

....... /stifles laughter/
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
The candy conglomerates haven't gotten to you yet? That's amazing! (It is kind of funny that I gave out a "Happy Halloween" message when over half of my f-list is from outside the United States. It's almost an Internet holiday by this point, come to think of it.)
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[identity profile] mairenn-k.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)
Happy Halloween! We don't celebrate it much here (even though lots of department stores and shops do their best to make it a popular holiday) - maybe because it sort of collides with All Saint's Day, which we celebrate next weekend. In any case though, I hope you had a good day!

*chuckles at the rest of the post*
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 1st, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's funny how some holidays are exported just on the basis of what they can sell -- it reminds me of Valentine's Day and White Day in Japan, for example.

I tried. It didn't quite work out.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) on December 24th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 2nd, 2010 07:57 pm (UTC)
To be fair, that door really does lead outside. XD I'm pretty sure it's locked all the time, though. (The real door to the bell tower is located in an inconspicuous spot in the middle of the hallway connecting the chapel to an academic hall, exactly the opposite direction from the door I wrote about!)
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[identity profile] grass-angel.livejournal.com on November 3rd, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Goddamnit, the EARWORM.
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com on November 3rd, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
/plays epic guitar solo again
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