Summary of Last Semester

Mainly what I did this semester was take 8 classes and create 3 theses. I also learned how to swim.
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I recorded samples and made instruments out of them. Bottles clanking created high percussion and water-filled woks made wobble-lines. I harvested gamelan sounds and lined up the pulsing patterns to create rhythmic structure.
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How cool would it be to create an interface that used body-motion to control music? This is how I felt my music should be performed: music is gesture. I realized it would be possible with a Kinect sensor! I performed the piece at the X Sound Festival. It appeared that I was floating because I was lit by backlight, wearing a UV costume I had made, and standing on one leg to use one foot to pan a track. In the end I rolled off the stage into the audience.
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My teacher was powerful mad at me for putting a dead coyote in her dishwasher. Just kidding, she was mad for having poor time management skills and adding elements to my projects at the last minute. “This performance is an application downloaded from the ether, are you sure you want to open it?” “The X Sound Festival has unexpectedly quit, reopen?” Once I had been scolded for being unprofessional for about an hour I don’t think I learned my lesson. I shouldn’t be flippant about this because it is tiresome to cause such stress, but I feel it is a fundamental weakness and will likely require more than a couple hundred personal fuckups.
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Here’s the part where I get to brag though: after being chided my teacher said it was impressive that I had written two songs and made a music video in three weeks, along with creating a multi-media performance. She commented that I had accomplished more with the Kinect sensor technology in a few weeks than the combined efforts of the technical director of Mills and another graduate student had over the course of four months. 
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I was burnt out on working hard and continued to work hard. I directed my first video crew and finished my psychology thesis. I had an average of 3 hours a day commuting by bus throughout the semester and would use it to do research for the psychology thesis – it showed – in retrospect it was badly written. I ended up writing about music as a metaphor for brain function, discussing how cross-cerebral neural oscillation synchrony may be a crucial component for cognitive function.
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Now I’m done with my undergraduate degree. I’ve had capstone educational experiences, but it’s still odd not to be thinking about what classes I’ll take next semester. Now I’m trying to find a job and an apartment like everyone does after they graduate. 
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Avocado Kingdom

B1

After escaping the summer-camp of Mills campus living I moved into the Avocado Kingdom in West Oakland.

Construction paper decorations lined the halls of the student apartments on campus. As security guards let me into the building (due to the non-working keys I had been given) I was faced with an army of Winnie the Poohs. The flatmates in my “apartment” had added extra rules to the already middle-school-esque list, such as “No Drinking.” Apparently taking out the trash wasn’t a rule however, as the place stank like a restaurant dumpster in the sun.

I used someone’s cutting board on my first day. The next time I opened the cabinet the entire thing was papered, angry sharpie exclaiming: “DON”T USE MY STUFF W/OUT ASKING!” Every time I entered the space whatever roommate was out and about would scurry away, slamming the door behind them.

 

B2The Avocado Kingdom is built in Victorian style, is over a century old, has a great view of the Port of Oakland and rent there was less than half price of living on campus. I lived with Vas, a Stanford PHDcandidate and rhetoric teacher focusing on animal rights, his wife Debs who had studied physics and art and works a 9-5 on environmental regulation, moonlighting as a torch-singer, Karem, an anthropology PHD candidate at Stanford who is taking time off soon to protest in Egypt, and Tina, a mysterious woman who seems to work at a school in Oakland. To juxtapose the last group of souls with whom I inhabited shared space, my new roommates would feed me vegan ice cream sandwiches and roll on the floor laughing at my jokes. We rotated who’s avocados would be used based on which ones were ripe  and If they took one of my beers they would buy me a six pack.

In my neighborhood there’s a liquor store on every corner where there isn’t a Baptist church or a beauty supply warehouse. At one juncture the former two stand next to each other, “True Light Church” is white with black lettering and has the same dimensions as “Sav-Mor Liquor” which is black with red lettering. There are projects, newly developed modern apartments, industrial leftovers and current industry. Mostly there are old Victorians in various states of repair – formerly suburbs for San Franciscans at the turn of the century.

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Whenever I would mention that I take the bus from West Oakland people would express their concern over my safety walking home through such a “ghetto” area.  At one point I was walking home late at night and a van began to follow me slowly. A middle-aged man rolled down his window and with genuine concern said: “Are you alright walking this late at night?” Once I got to my block a shiny sedan tailed me for an uncomfortable distance. The driver of this vehicle seemed to have more malicious intentions than the first concerned citizen. He said “Why are you out so late at night?” I commented that he seemed to be insinuating that it was dangerous for me to be out and noted that he was responsible for said danger. I commented that if he stopped being a threat there wouldn’t be a threat and continued on my way. I started carrying around a mirror shard so that if something like that happened again I could hold it up and say: “You’re dreaming” but it never did.

The “Lower Bottom” is a neighborhood’s nighborhood where gentrification is discussed in community meetings by gentrifiers and non-gentrifiers alike. Our block is filled with people who watch out for each other, bringing one another food and chatting on porches. Everyone’s favorite neighbor is probably a man who goes by “Pee Wee” and takes it upon himself to weedB4 everyone’s yard and tend the grass at the little park on the corner. He does this all for free but whenever we would catch him tending our yard we’d make sure to give him a beer.

One of the best things about my block is that it dead-ends into a vacant lot that’s filled with big metal pipes. I spent a lot of time recording the resonant properties within the pipes, and stopping by late/early in the dark to sing. One day I was shooting video in the tunnels and was surprised to see some hipsters on a stoop nearby. Later I found a note on my car saying that I was: “Super cute” and asking to hang out. After I had finished two of my theses I finally had the time to kick it on the porch with fellow skinny-jean wearing, vegetarian-

hipsters holding requisite Pabst-forties. It’s too bad I had to leave to NM at the end of the semester, because my new neighbor was also “super cute.”

The best porch drinking experience I had was shared with my roommates. I came home to tell Vas that I would be heading home at the beginning of the summer and he poured me a third of a bottle of his fancy tequila. When Debs got back from work we broke out my shitty tequila and invited every neighbor who walked by to join us.  I took everyone on a field trip to the pipes, but only Debs made B5it, as the others became engaged in conversation with Pee Wee. She promptly began torch singing (nice pipes in nice pipes hee hee hee) and eventually we discovered that the others couldn’t find us and had encountered some mishaps, so perhaps the tunnels can only be seen by wizards. This point is further illustrated by the fact that one day I saw about 2 dozen people with bikes emerging from the pipes, causing me to infer that it’s a hipster-portal.

My roommates half jokingly offered me free rent at the end of my time in Oakland, and we came up with a money making scheme so that I could continue to live there: A vegan ice cream cart called “Polar Bear Sex” (because it’s cool and ironic ). Our music would cater to our demographic and consist of vintage video game jingles done ice cream truck chime style.

At the end of my stay in the Avocado Kingdom my sibling and I infused the neighborhood with our music, taking pictures powered with AA batteries, and getting ice cream for dinner at liquor stores. If only Polar Bear Sex did exist – I wouldn’t have to break my veganism for the sake of irony.

 

Pocket Friend

A group of us snuck onto the roof and it was all covered in shiny white tile. I found a hidden mosaic of a killer whale and fished in my pocket for a camera. Instead I found a tiny white bioluminescent sea creature. It was translucent and had little feelers like a shrimp.

One of my favorite teachers from high school, Monsieur Antoine, was working reception within the building, which was also covered in white tile from floor to ceiling. I asked him if he would let my pocket-friend and me in, pointing out that my the sea creature was dressed for the occasion in its miniature tuxedo, complete with bow tie.

Bus Thesis

As my blog has slipped into low-tide like so many others, I’ve been waking up at 5 or 6 and working till midnight, obsessively dissolving into a reality of my own creation.

I was on the phone with my dad as I rode the bus, telling him about how I am most efficiently productive when I’m on the bus. I’ve read my entire Music Cognition textbook, and most of my the journals for my psychology thesis on the bus. The other day, as my little body shook loosely within this big singing machine, I got more done on the obese beats I’m making in an hour than I do in about 5 in a quiet room with an almond milk latte. I came up with a music video idea for my Video II group project entirely on the 40-minute ride to school (forgot to do so before then). My enthusiasm leaked to the rest of the class and I was selected to be the director of our project.

When you have to intentionally block out a jangling discord it’s easier to focus. When you have a silent workspace it can be painful to get into, and remain on one task. I’ve always found it easier to sleep if there is a party raging in the background and when I was a baby my mom couldn’t get me to sleep without shaking me around to Tom Waits.

My office is the dance-floor, I can’t without overpowering beats and strobe lights.

Google the Flavor

A kitty stumbled off an airplane into Albuquerque. I noticed her far through the swirling glass gate, walking on the front of her feet. I showed Romy my hometown, fed her chile, took her sledding and to 10k Waves, went to art-shows and parties, introduced her to my friends, drank good beer, made a movie, and shaved: “CT” into her head just before heading to Cali.
Emily Montoya asked me which delicious establishment I’d like to visit before splitting town and we met up at Felipe’s Tacos writing: “Wulph Escapes Zooooo”  on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal and adding quotes around the “tight” in “New Mexican Budget Tight.” The natural thing to do next was to walk to K Mart and pitch for a moustache trimming kit, then spend all our quarters on fake gold rings. Kristen, Noah, Jack and I chanted “BOGO Chikn Sandwis” as we made our way to the “Death of Culture” ceremony. We shaved things into the backs of each other’s heads by the light of a strobe light, and finished with Benji rolling on the floor cackling: “Baby princess mung-bean pony!” Apparently the footage will appear at Site Santa Fe soon.
Once we were in California Romy and I drank many 40’s. We made sure to empty the recycling frequently at Orjan’s place. We had advanced to plum wine and sake by the end of our stay at O’s, but on our second trip to the MOMA we relapsed and partook of the BEST FORTY ANYONE HAS EVER HAD.
The first time we visited the MOMA Romy and I wanted more. We had bought a forty and split it in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, with its magnificent waterfall fountain, lush grass, and frequent visits from security. Romy was surprised by the cheapness of Bandaids in America, after 3 hours or so of walking had blistered her cowboyed feet. She was even more surprised by our cheap liquor.
The reason we had walked for so long was because I was trying to find this glass elevator I had visited once before I knew the city. When we finally found the hotel we couldn’t find the elevator itself, until I asked a friendly woman who directed us toward a place we were not allowed to go. We walked past the concierge and found the elevator, which lifted us above the city, giving us a view of the entirety of east San Francisco. The descent was the best part – like a carnival ride, where the only price was the ability to be sneaky.
 I wrote artist names on my hands and they washed off before their recording onto a more permanent format. 
The thing that really sticks out about our first visit was the work of Clyford Still, which made me cry. 
On our second trip we learned that in the financial district of SF every corner store that advertised liquor only had microbrew beer, spirits, and wine. Finally we got to a grungier side street and bought a Mickey’s. We sipped it from its brown paper bag and were speechless at the nuance of the flavor: decidedly different from any other Mickey previously supped upon. The bass on the forty was stable yet understated, with a hue of palest wheat that held foundation upon which a symphony of flavors balanced. The mids on this beverage were really what made it outstanding – a round and fruity onset landing reminiscent of lychee. The highs spread out around the palate, sparkling like the smoke of rat-weed which once emitted from Café Jake. After every sip Romy and I shared repeating sentiment: “Whoa.”
 
Naturally, upon entering the MOMA we had to pee. Romy and I deliberated over which gendered bathroom we should enter. We were both wearing pants, (not triangular skirts), so opted for the Men’s restroom. The last sip of the forty was reserved for this impasse. We downed it, peeled off the label, and propped it up, making a new label for it. Readymade. 

 

Sausage Joose

I was depressed to be leaving Australia, but it’s best to leave when you’re having the time of your life. 

The novelty of my living situation had nearly worn off as I sorted through the sausage-joose infused dishes towering in the sink. The illogical stack was almost artistic and I laughed as loogies slid from plates.
I think I volunteered to clean the kitchen because I knew I was the only one who would do it well enough to avoid a fee, but being veegs I don’t usually have to deal with so much sausage joose.
Tree on a bush-walk.
It’s as if all my roommates have been doing is burning sausage into pans and squeezing it over every single item in the kitchen. Liz (roommate 4), dealt with an emotional arch about the state of the kitchen, and had resorted to eating microwaved Easy-Mac MIXED WITH microwaved chicken ramen, using only our immense, stained and plastic bowl for almost every meal. On the rare occasion that meal did not comprise breakfast, lunch, or dinner, she went to unit 50 to cook in Taryn’s kitchen.
(Power Station)
In a stroke of good/bad luck Romy and I found a new set of pans by the side of the road, along with our new best friend the SUN HORSE (a giant empty corn-oil tub that emitted beautiful noises when struck). It was good luck because all of our pans have had their handles broken off  long ago, and burn one’s fingers every time they’re put to use, AKA every mealtime. It was good luck because now we won’t be charged for breaking our pans. It was bad luck because we could only enjoy them for a few days, but in those few days Jake (Roommate 2) burnt popcorn and sausage into them.  
Me leaving the country
 By the time I was done cleaning caked sausage fat off of a shot glass, I’m pretty sure the novelty had completely worn off – just in time for me to split the country.
“This kitchen is so filthy, I’m leaving the country.”
“The surf’s not great today, that’s it, I’m leaving the country.”
“Adhit, your puns are so bad, I’m leaving the country.”
So I did. 

Losing Consciousness

I want to go to bed on fresh clean sheets with a good smell and stretch my legs and back so luxuriously before drifting into the pure light of sleep.

You can die while you’re still alive. You can completely lose the person you’ve been from brain injury or disease. You can lose all your memories, or lose the ability to form new memories; your personality can dramatically change.
It scares me to think that the things that make me me can be taken away in an instant. It makes me feel sad that all my precious memories will be gone. If I were to die now I don’t think I’d be cool enough to simply dissolve my energy into a rainbow and leave my organs as jewels or something

Death is probably messy and awkward. I imagine it being uncomfortable and disorienting. Ever since I’ve been aware of mortality I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, but recently, probably due to learning so much about dementia and traumatic brain injury, I’ve felt less at peace with the idea.
What can I do about it though? I’ve got to work on feeling less attached. I want to have a feeling like I’m a ball of light. Like it doesn’t matter. 

jounral

 

Monday 14/11/11

* Spent the day in the music lab working on the coolest and most creative DJ set, with the best transitions in the world.
* It’s that poignant end-of-the-semester time, especially since I won’t see my excellent professors, tutors, and internship supervisors again. Chris Walker said it was nice to meet me and I thanked him for his help over the semester. We chatted about music-neuroscience, and I left feeling sad that I won’t be living in the music lab for very much longer.

* Ran into my black metal friend Christian at the train station. We shared a joyful hug and made plans to break into the pool late at night
 * I spent the rest of the day at the salon with Gen, who brought my hair back to its natural silvery-white color. Once again there was the poignant almost-the-end feeling. Gen said she would have to find a new muse once I left.
* In the evening I did a small catwalk and reaped the free snacks and liquor.
* Romy and I decided we needed more snacks and liquor and went to Woolworth’s. We had a walking picnic with white wine and an apple.  

Tuesday 15/11/11

* Spent the day in the music lab working on the coolest and most creative DJ set, with the best transitions in the world.

Wednesday 16/11/11

* Spent the day in the music lab working on the coolest and most creative DJ set, with the best transitions in the world.
* Romy came over and we stayed up late.

Thursday 17/11/11 
* Woke up with dark beasts for eyes.
* Had some coffee.
* Spent the day fine tuning the coolest and most creative DJ set with the best transitions in the world.
* Turned in DJ set.
* Spent night studying for neuroscience final, when I got bored with that I made a cake.

Blue Whale

I ran into Paige Herrera, who I had known all through elementary, middle and high school. At first I was running late for swimming lessons, and my dad was giving me a ride in his VW mini bus, where instead of a passenger seatbelt there was a shower that couldn’t be turned off. A team of buff girls in bright yellow swimmers populated one end of the pool, and a rag tag bunch non-athletic people sat waiting for swim lessons on the other. I joined the latter group and Paige lovingly stroked my hair.

One of the first memories I have of Paige is that she got me in a headlock in third grade and said she wouldn’t let me go until I told her she was my best friend. The last time we were in contact was when we graduated high school together. She invited me to her party, but I had gone on tour with my band the day after graduation. I was in a tent in Los Gatos CA when I realized I hadn’t responded to her invitation. I went up to her and said: “I know this is a dream, and the real you isn’t probably getting this message, but I wanted to say I’m sorry that I can’t come to your party.” The day after my most recent pool dream Paige reached out to me for the first time in years, with a picture of cursive handwriting practice we had done on a play-date in fourth grade that said: “Emily May Wingren and Paige Ashley Nicole Herrera, best friends forever and ever.” I told her about the dream.
After I left the pool I ended up in a tide pool in the gathering darkness. A blue whale was gliding toward me, looking me straight in the eye. It asked if I wanted to ride on its back. As we sailed through the deep clear water darkness fell, and I realized the whale had begun to fly through a field of multi colored stars.

Kindred Art Kid

It is convenient for two vegetarian ghosts to go out for dinner, except when the world of wait-staff cannot perceive their presence. One Saturn’s day I ordered a “Victoria Bitter” and discovered it was just my favorite cheap AU beer “VB.” At Kelley’s, a Newtown bar that consistently holds a place for me, I asked for the finest “Victoria Bitter” and was given blank stare in return. Finally the bartender said: “There are only four people in the world who know what VB stands for, and two of them are dead.”

Romy and I swapped jackets because she was shivering and I was wearing a pea coat. At the next pub a guy with “New Zealand” shaved into the back of his head questioned: “Who are you ladies rooting for?” Being Australian by birth, Jack reckoned Melbourne would win. Naturally, I said I was going for NZ. I don’t know who eventually won, but it was a victory for me, having always hoped to find someone to defy gender with.

We are a ouple of hipsters eating spaghetti out of jars with chopsticks. Uni life has left my kitchen forkless, and with few plates, but we always have jars. Even though I have posted an insistent set of kitchen rules, the only one anyone seems to be following is the addendum created by Romy and our good friend Clarence Clancy Jr. (CCJ): “Don’t forget to smile like a powerful whale.” I escape the gritty kitchen often these days, for fun times and modeling gigs, but mostly to go home to the music lab. I made a set looping live soda-can opening and mbira, with video to match each track and transition. I also dropped many samples of the New Mexican folk-storyteller Joe Hayes. I began with quotes from the drunk coyote hiding under the table: “Ah que carai, ahora se voy a cantar, now I’m really going to sing!” I am a Table Coyote. But who wants to sit under one’s own table when one can depend on a campus of climable sculptures to drink on? Plus, all the fatherly security guards see us and offer us packed lunches with sandwiches and juice boxes.

It is convenient for two uncanny kids to drink cocktails out of one another’s clavicles. Uni life has left the kitchen cupless, and when all the jars are in use the most best vessels are those created by skeletal structure. 
Human memory is a fundamentally creative act, each time we visit a memory we are making that memory again. Each blog post and picture from this era in my existence as M is being solidified into a golden-fun-feeling. Each message in my inbox is a small poem about how much fun life is. The fields of communication are littered with happy-faces.