The (musical) talent of Charlotte

I attended an open-mic night at a club/lounge/whatever it is called The Evening Muse in support of my buddy Nathan. This was one of those really cool hole-in-the-wall places with nil sound-proofing, but when the folks start singing and playing, the world stops in its tracks. And this was apparently the more “amateurish” of the open mic nights (there are a couple sets of open mic nights). Circumstances conspired to make me late, meaning I came in at the beginning of Nathan’s second song (there’s a two song limit). He was good, if perhaps a little nervous, and he gets major congrats for a great performance on his “first night out”. We all stayed for the entirety of the open mic sessions, of course, and were stunned (at least, I was) again and again. I’ve never been to that sort of place, and despite the crowd (too many people!), the atmosphere was very comfortable and friendly. I didn’t even notice until my mother pointed it out that we were two of the only three blacks in the place (although I usually wouldn’t notice that stuff anyway…). Most people played acoustic geetar, although there was a superb three-piece from Raleigh that consisted of a geeter, a violin, and a drum (like a congo drum looking thing) that totally rocked the house. When Nathan gives me their name again, I’ll drop it here with a link to their site. Most people also played that music that I can’t think of a label for: kinda John Meyer-ish, that acoustic sound that isn’t country but isn’t alternative or “rock” either. I dunno. I’m bad with labels. I’m also bad with technical evaluations of music. Nathan said some were better than others, but although some weren’t the style I would normally listen to, and some folks didn’t have a voice that gripped you from beginning to end, everyone was great, everyone knew their music, and everyone had feeling. It was simply beautiful.

The closing act was an R&B singer/keyboard player with a beautifully raspy voice. He was the third black person in the place. I don’t generally go for R&B, because it often seems like a lot of whining and stuff, but this dude converted me. And he was young, like maybe 19. The entire place just got kinda still when he went up there, and he was shy as he introduced himself and talked about his song. Then he played. And I mean he played. His voice, the music… It was eerie and gripping and beautiful. When he finished his song, the loudest applause of the night went up and the manager-folks asked him to play another one. It was even better, and just as moving, despite the fact that you were sort of acclimated to his style, you know? That takes talent.

They have open-mic nights every Tuesday, and once a month on Thurdays. If I can get the moola, I am so there next time. I can only hope there are such cool places where ever I go to college (“whoopi!”). Who needs parties on a Friday or Saturday night?

Update: The band: Taylor Roberts’ Music (merci beaucoup, Nathan!).


Very few things would be capable of topping today and yesterday.

Remember that financial problem with college that left me agitated, frustrated, and very unhappy? We-e-e-ell… WPI was kind enough to award me a scholarship for the entirety of the tuition. This just leaves me with room/board, books, and the other junk. I’m down to $6 800 a year, baby. Oh, yeah. My parents practically locked me in my room last night because I was running around alternately screaming and whispering “yay!”, dancing violently, and singing. I didn’t go to sleep until about 11:30 and practically no homework got done. My guidance counselor attributes this good fortune to God, while I want to hug the cool man that is the Assistant Director of WPI’s Financial Aid office. Oh, well. Yay!

To top that off, I did in fact get accepted into Carleton, although they didn’t give me as much money as I would have liked for them to be a competitor against WPI. I’m okay with that though. Yay!

Needless to say, I am now slightly obsessed with WPI. Or “Whoopi”, as Michael calls it. That’s okay though. I didn’t have a life, anyway. Yay!

My mother and I are planning on spending about a week in Worcester during Spring Break (middle of April). The only downside is that the Rat must go with us.

Oh, and that Linkin’ Park CD? It does indeed grow on you. The rap-rock-ish style has fit my mood very well lately.

Things are getting a little interesting…

A friend’s friend’s father died yesterday. I’m still in shock, even though I know the know the father not at all and the friend’s friend very little. I was openly shunned when I asked my friend how she was holding up given the death: “See, this is why I didn’t want to tell anyone. I don’t want to become a pity party.” I had two simultaneous reactions to this: first, pardon me for checking on how you are doing, oh friend of mine; secondly, I know it’s not about me and is probably about her reaction to grief and everything, and I guess she doesn’t know me well enough to understand that “pity” isn’t in my social vocabulary… Yeah. The first reaction is winning. I’ll just say “hi” in a very uncaring tone next time tragedy strikes a friend. Or a friend’s friend.

Sorry, I’m still in shock, which in turn leads to bitch-mode.

I just had a fascinating conversation with Jenny that could be seen as related. It concerned religion. While I’ve learned to avoid violence during such discussions (yes, eigth grade with a Roman Catholic friend was fun), and even manage (I think) to avoid insulting the other party, the discussions still come out largely inconclusive. I think I understand things a little better now, this drive to be unconditionally loved and to have a balm for unbearable pain, I don’t have a need within me for that sort of… crutch (sorry, Jenny, I just come up with a better word than that). Yes, I am a deist (although at times I swing to become a non-theist), based on this fascinating Unitarian Universalist sermon. I would characterize Jenny as a Christian of the non-Fundamentalist sort, with an interpretive perspective on the Bible and all that. It made for a fascinating, if abruptly ended, conversation. I’m going to be an über-dork and post the majority of it (the order of statements has been modified slightly for clarification… you know how IMs are). Read it if you like.

Jenny: sometimes i wish i could give the whole world a hug
Irrsinn: lol. i don’t. they can hug themselves.
Jenny: i really do think a lot of people really just need to know that somebody loves them unconditionally
Irrsinn: there are always conditions, Jenny.
Irrsinn: it’s a little unrealistic to say otherwise
Jenny: no – i may never want to speak to you again, but i will always love you and care about what happens to you
Irrsinn: lol. i guess that makes you… well, you can’t be a better man, cuz neither of us are men, but… you know what I mean. The cooler chicka. I hold grudges quite well
Jenny: even people I parted with on bad terms, people thatbhurt me deeply, i still don’t want bad stuff to happen to them
Irrsinn: not even a little revenge?
Jenny: i have to love you first to love you forever
Jenny: am i still hurt and mad at them? yes. do I want to see their lives fall apart? never.
Jenny: no, seriously
Irrsinn: i know
Jenny: there’s this Christian song I love that has this one line – “how will they know our God is real until they feel His touch?”
Jenny: that means a lot to me
Irrsinn: a good quote. that very thing causes many agnostics and atheists to be born. 🙂
Jenny: a bumper sticker I once saw: :”nobody’s perfect: just forgiven”
Irrsinn: lol. very Christian/Jewish
Jenny: I really believe that whatever you do, you are forgiven if you believe and know you were wrong, truly, truly
Irrsinn: you know, we had an almost-discussion about that back when we were reading… Hamlet I think, or MacBeth in English. Apparently you can even get away with murder.
Irrsinn: 🙂
Jenny: faith means so many things to so many people; it’s so much more than God
Irrsinn: true
Jenny: to me, i like the constancy of it. He’s always there – a rock, a shelter, a shoulder. Being with Michael has taught me a lot about God and love and peace
Irrsinn: i don’t know. I have just never felt the need for that sort of… “shoulder” (I was going to say crutch, but…). I believe that while, yes, shit happens, hard work and dedication to your cause can see you through. I don’t see a need for me to think something else is pulling the strings. And I don’t think that’s just pride or me being a control freak.
Irrsinn: Although I do understand how and why some people want/need religion. The structure, the hope, etc.
Jenny: so do we have complete free will? even if not some god, our genes, our instincts play a larger role than we realize or like to admitJenny: God’s not pulling strings – I’m no Deist, but I’m no puppet either
Irrsinn: So what is God doing if not pulling strings, giving you love and peace, getting you off for heinous crimes you are now “sorry” about?
Jenny: there are no “”s – you are, in your heart of hearts, sorry
Irrsinn: ok. so why should that change things, is my question?
Jenny: nobody’s perfect – should we all be sentenced to eternal damnation
Jenny: ?
Irrsinn: I don’t think there *is* eternal damnation.
Irrsinn: I don’t necessarily think there is eternal *anything*
Jenny: so we live and die
Jenny: that’s all
Irrsinn: why not? what is so bad about that? why do we have to make everything have such a great and purposeful meaning?
Jenny: organized religion was created because people needed something more than “shit happens” they needed to know there was a reason
Irrsinn: but why try to turn to something that we cannot, by definition, understand, and thus can never comprehend those “reasons” we are searching for?
Irrsinn: My question is really, what is so bad about being ephemeral. Why must everything have a “purpose” and why do we all need to feel like we are basking in some supreme being’s glow?
Jenny: i really do think a lot of people really just need to know that somebody loves them unconditionally
Irrsinn: but…
Jenny: that’s why – love is not explainable by genes or instinct
Jenny: what is the evolutionary value of me caring so much about the world?
Jenny: as long as michael (or somebody) impregnates me and I bear viable children, what does nature care?
Irrsinn: b/c love is what keeps you around to raise the children, to give them the skills they need to live and spawn more children.
Irrsinn: but why do we have to “create” a diety to love us (and I do feel that whatever god may be, he isn’t what the human have written in the Bible, in the Qu’ran, etc., and thus what people worship here is “created” and ficticious)
Jenny: He has given a gift – eternal life – and all we have to do is accept it
Irrsinn: But I don’t see why life must be a gift. Why must there be a source other than your parents on Earth?
Jenny: there doesn’t have to be. there just IS
Irrsinn: but why do people feel a need for there to be a source. And they must have, or else organized religion wouldn’t exist.
Irrsinn: so shall we go back to gods and our basking in their praise and glory?
Jenny: most of the time, actually, I see God as a disappointed parent, feeling he’s failed, wanting to intervene but not because he gave us a choice
Jenny: so I am not basking in his praise but instead working to be better for him
Irrsinn: even if you accept the Bible as fact, you must admit that it has been changed over the years, and by mere mortals (unless there’s something about King James you’d like to share with the world). Do you think that God has stepped in somewhere along the way to make sure that every fact in the Bible has withstood the changes we put it through?
Jenny: I had a hard time with that too- this isn’t just soemthing i’ve accepted blindly since birth you know – my parents don’t believe
Irrsinn: But why should god care? If he’s created one or several universes, with (insert large number here) planets with people and life on them, why is he going to care that I can’t get enough money to go to college? Why should he? Who are we to say that his job is to watch over us? If you don’t take the Bible verbatim, then how do we know that the writers weren’t smoking some opium? We have no right to presume anything about a supranatural being. At all.
Jenny: the Bible isn’t perfect, and I don’t accpet it’s infallability – but I beleive all i need to know – God is Love
Irrsinn: Why Love, why not generosity or science?
Jenny: because generosity is love and science isn’t essential for survival
[…]Irrsinn: uh, no. i can very generous to ppl/things that I don’t love. and sometimes, love is *not* generosity.
Irrsinn: My parents love me to death, but they are withholding money for college in the hopes that it will make me a hard worker. Is this the anti-love?
Jenny: 1. god gave his only son that we might live
Jenny: 2. no matter how hard people try, you cannot live without it – you will have a psychotic break with reality
Irrsinn: is that second point proven?
Irrsinn: (i won’t even go into the first pont)
Jenny: keep people without human interaction and they will go crazy
Irrsinn: love does not equal human interaction
Irrsinn: love isn’t essential for survival either.
Irrsinn: i have human interaction all the time and can think of no one I truly love
Jenny: I don’t know what to say to that, Melissa – all i can say is that I love you and i’m sorry you haven’t had the joy I have from loving others….i’m stunned… are our definitions of love different?
Irrsinn: i think they must be
Irrsinn: i care about certain people, yes, but I wouldn’t call it love.
Irrsinn: and that’s another thing: WHY the HECK must it ALWAYS be about LOVE?!
Irrsinn: 🙂
Jenny: love is all there is….cheesy i know
Irrsinn: but why deny the full extent of human emotions?
Jenny: whadda mean?
Irrsinn: By defining everything in terms of love: god is love; we must have love; love, love, love, you deny, in many respects the importance and potency of other human emotions: hunger (spiritual and otherwise), anger, hatred, sadness, joy, etc. It seems to me like you would actually define these all in terms of love: to search for love, to be sick and tired of your love, the anti-love, when your love won’t call you, when you’ve found love, respectively. doesn’t that seem a little… skewed to you?
Jenny: because love is what satisfies the hunger, makes the pain bearable. Love is the goal. it’s what we should aim for. it’s what we need. but, like you said, we’re human, and love’s power doesn’t override the existence of otehr emotions – it is there when they all fall short
Jenny: for a more concrete example – when somebody gets a disease, the fact that it is curable doesn’t make it any less scary or sucky
Irrsinn: it must be the “makes the pain bearable” part that stops me from desiring a religion. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is. I have lived through the deaths of some folks close to me, through rejection by peers and loved ones (I change my mind, I have been in love before. silly me :-)), etc., and although I have struggled with depression, I have never experienced “unbearable pain”. I guess.

The conversation ended shortly after when her sister had to steal away the computer. This is something I will probably want to sleep on for a little while. Let it sink in. It was nice to have a conversation about relgion (really just Christianity, I guess) without one of us trying to convert the other. Thanks a bunch for the interesting conversation, Jenny. It’s been a while since I had one of those.

I also had a fascinating conversation with Jamie, a fellow IB student, today. Jamie’s an interesting person; despite her occasional attitude with teachers, I think that she has an interesting perspective on life and education that isn’t often expressed within the IB program. And I was proved correct today while we were both missing our useless history class. We spent about an hour talking about careers, schools, education, respect between students and teachers, etc. Why is it that when I have conversations like this, I feel as though I haven’t had this kind of intellectual “stretch” in months? Like I’ve been hanging out with the most superficial and shallow people that talk about nothing except hair, parties, and clothing? I know I don’t, but it feels that way. I guess I really have been removing myself from people, although not in such a positive way as Hannah suggested to me in an e-mail (” I don’t think you are in danger of [losing touch with the private, inner “self” shown only to those you are comfortable with in striving to maintain a pleasant/agreeable/convincing outer “self”], and therefore, I wouldn’t worry too much about this societal removal you are effecting. You adhere far more strictly to the (often ironic) platitude (as it has become, sadly), “to thine own self be true.” (Socrates, I think? […]) “). I’m afraid it’s more of a type of depression than anything else. I’m not staying true to myself or anyone else, or else I would be pursuing all the ways in which I can expand my “knowledge” (not knowledge in the Theory Of Knowledge sense, hence the quotes). Well, areas for improvement often spark ambition, right?

I feel so very "special"…

That’s something of an inside joke, but it’s not so much so…

Yesterday, I attended the Eagle Scout ceremonies of two of my friends: Michael and Chris. Michael had his first, then there was a shared reception, then Chris’s ceremony. Both were extremely touching, and the whole affair made me so proud to know these two and their families and friends. It was an interesting experience.

I generally avoid most things Boy Scouts, due to their standing on issues such as homosexuality, but sometimes… sometimes it’s not about the organization, it’s about the individuals in it, ya know? Although I do consider that there are those that would have attained the rank of Eagle Scout that were excluded merely for their sexual orientation yet are just as worthy, I have to question if this detracts from the hard work and dedication shown by my friends en route to achieving this award. I have to conclude that it doesn’t. It’s not its affiliation with the Boy Scouts that makes the Eagle Scout important, it’s what it represents to those that put in the effort to attain it. That was a hard distinction for me to make.

But the entire ceremony was fascinating. Michael, Eric, and Chris formed a trio of friends; during Michael’s ceremony, Chris and Eric escorted him and his parents onto and off of stage, and during Chris’s, Michael and Eric did the escorting. There was a sense of “friends forever” that, whether actual or not, and whether clichéd or not, was touching and provided a strange sense of continuity.

The reception was fun, as some folks from Harding showed up, including one of our favorite English teachers. There was plenty of laughter (Nathan and I were both laughing so hard that we couldn’t sing “For he’s a special fellow” (to the tune of “For he’s a jolly good fellow”) for Chris), and between Hannah and Nathan, my stomach was aching from laughing. Apparently, our former English teacher had her baby this past Monday, and the [insert very kind adjective here] person that was told didn’t see fit to inform the class. I guess I should give congratulations, though, even though I dislike children, huh? Congrats, Ms. L.

I also received my acceptance letter from WPI yesterday. It didn’t really hit until today that I got in. Since about 2 o’clock I’ve been jumping around, devouring their website and the Virtual Tour of the premises, and contemplating whether I will receive enough money to attend. It seems like such a great school… I hope I’m not mistaken on that.

Orlando also had a dinner party last night, which we followed up with a movie. Orlando’s mother and aunt cooked up an amazing array of Costa Rican dishes for us to try. Although the food was delicious, I wasn’t in a courageous mood last night, unfortunately, meaning I just sort of picked at my plate. But the food was good, I promise. We even made a plate (actually, it was a tupperware dish) for Hannah. Afterwards, we went to see “Bringing Down the House”, which I had already seen once. It was just as funny the second time around, especially given the fact that Mia was constantly and contagiously giggling beside me.

I was loaned the Linkin Park: Reanimation CD last night and have been listening to it throughout the day. With the exception of a couple of the songs, I find myself singularly uninspired. Maybe it grows on you, but I like the original, unmixed songs better. There just isn’t anything particularly gripping about the music, and of course, I’m already familiar with the lyrics. It’s just a little “bleh”.

This whole weekend seemed so removed from the war, my financial problems, my family problems. It was a weekend of escapism at its finest, and I wish I just had one more day off from school.