22 February 2015

3° of Difference

I've lived my entire life in Henderson, NV. Growing up, we traveled quite a bit- my father's job had him on call 24/7, including weekends and holidays. And after he retired, he just liked taking family vacations. But even so, the majority of my life was spent at 36.03°N, in the Las Vegas Valley.

It was brown. That's the first thing to come to mind. From the desert floor to the mountain peaks, the most prominent feature of my hometown was the enormous variation we had of simply brown. Even things that should have luscious and green had a tinge of brown.

Winters were more windy than cold, but the summers...

Everything they tell you about a Vegas summer is true. They're hot, and they're dry. (And I love them.)

Reno, at 39°N (only three degrees further from the equator), is drastically different. For me, moving here? Well, call it a culture shock.

For one, the rain here is ridiculous. Although the difference between Henderson's annual rainfall and Reno's is negligible- only 0.47 inches- the reality of it is insane.

February Rainfall in Reno. (I don't think I have any memories of February showers in Vegas.)
And then there's the scenery.

Don't get me wrong. I think Vegas and the surrounding area is gorgeous- but to find anything resembling "nature" you'd have to venture out to Lake Mead, or Red Rock, or make the drive to Boulder City. In Reno, the Truckee River runs right through the Downtown area.

Literally. It's right there. It takes close to twenty minutes to walk from the university's campus to the riverbank. And that's if you're taking your time.

An unedited iPhone capture (taken while I was sitting on a rock in the middle of the river).

And, 180° the other way. (Heavily edited. For Instagram.)
And then there's the property my parents bought this year- four acres just outside of Lund, NV. It's halfway between Henderson and Reno and it's literally the middle of nowhere. I keep searching for Courage the Cowardly Dog.

Now that I'm out of the house, my parents visit just about every other weekend to work on it. They recently had a well dug and plumbing installed. Hooray for running water.

My dad's convinced that it's now perfectly livable. Sorry, dad, I'd beg to differ. The camper trailer that the old owners left behind (sans appliances) is not suitable for anything more than college students who can't afford a cabin (i.e., my friends and I).

A panoramic shot taken on a ridiculously windy day.

21 February 2015

College Band {& Invitations}

(My apologies for the tardiness of this post.)

After Sunday's massive post, I'll keep this one short and sweet; I'll try not to bore all of you with too much band talk.

As I mentioned, I am a member of the University of Nevada Pride of the Sierra Wolf Pack Marching Band (long title, I know; we don't actually call ourselves that every single time it comes up). I am one of 16 other tuba players in a nearly 180-strong band. 

However, I am also a member of the Nevada Wind Ensemble, where I (currently) play the clarinet. (Last semester, I played bass clarinet. It was a trying time.)

Briefly in my last post, I talked about how different high school band was from middle school band. The same holds true for college! Though it has its drawbacks, I'm glad to be where I am now. Every single student truly wants to be a part of the activity (and they'd better, considering it's close to $200/credit). It also helps that, by the time you get to college, you've picked up some skill on your instrument.

The music community I've found here is not only high-caliber, but also welcoming and open. Everyone is accepted and supported. It's the perfect environment to grow as a musician.

And now, because no post is complete without a shameless plug, I encourage anyone who happens to be in the Reno-Sparks area on February 23 to attend our upcoming concert! 
Venue: Nightingale Concert Hall, Church Fine Arts Building, University of Nevada
Date/Time: 2/23/2015, 7:30PM
Admission: $5 (Free for university students)
We'll be joined by the Symphonic Band, whose repertoire includes works from Grainger, McBeth, and Mackey.

And the Wind Ensemble will be playing:
Toccata Marziale, Ralph Vaughan Williams
Paean (Chant and Triumph), Steven Bryant
Danzón No. 2, Arturo Marquéz

15 February 2015

Where Words Fail

If you've checked out my bio (link here) you'll know that I play both clarinet and tuba (though I don't know if what I call "tuba playing" really counts). But that's kind of all you know on that subject.

I joined Band in 6th grade; I chose to play the clarinet (and honestly, it was because I didn't recognize any of the other instruments' names) and I've just been playing ever since. That's the boring version of this story.

I liked middle school band, but I also kind of hated it. In 8th grade, I planned on quitting and re-joining once I got to high school. My parents had other ideas. They insisted that I do band that year because the alternative I wanted wouldn't "get me into college" (because colleges look at your middle school experiences. Totally.) and because, well, they said so.

And then, when I started 9th grade, I had my first experience with marching band. To say the change was refreshing doesn't even begin to explain the sort of euphoria I felt every time I walked into class or arrived at rehearsal or competition. For some people, their happy places are scenes envisioned in their heads; for me, it was opening up my case and setting up my clarinet.

Towards the middle of my freshman year, this guy I was dating- let's name him Tony- started to get really abusive- he'd always been a little controlling, but after winter break that year, things began to spiral out of control. I'd prefer not to go into details. Suffice it to say that the longer I stayed with him, the more depressed and suicidal I became.

It was band that kept me going. 

In May 2011, my director made me co-section leader for the upcoming season. After all the auditions/interviews had been completed, I stayed after school one day and I was speaking to him. He was working on something on his office computer but at this moment, he swiveled around in his chair and said, "I'm really proud of you."

That hit me. I'd made people proud before- my parents, for instance, when I became Vice President of the National Junior Honor Society. But for some reason, my director telling me he was proud of the way I'd progressed that year really struck me. 

I held onto that all summer, looking forward to the renewal of marching season and the beginning of my sophomore year. When the school year started, Tony and I started seeing each other again- though I'd successfully avoided him for months, I no longer could when we both spent hours together every day in band. Tony's abusive behavior intensified. I spent my days terrified, feeling as though I was treading through a minefield, and no matter where I stepped, I set one off. The suicidal thoughts returned, even worse.

Again, the only thing that kept me from killing myself was throwing myself into my responsibilities in band. I held sectionals every week, hounded my section members about attendance, and spent hours practicing our repertoire.

That year, at our Marching Band Banquet (held in November, after our final marching competition), I was named Most Outstanding Section Leader and my section was named Most Improved. 

Tony continued threatening and tormenting me, and small instances of physical abuse occurred, but I was clueless and desperately "in love" with him so I did nothing to escape. He'd brainwashed me into thinking I deserved it, into thinking I needed him, that I was worthless.

Until one week that spring where he was mysteriously absent. Suddenly, I was no longer constrained, attached to his hip; suddenly I was allowed to talk to the friends I'd had before he'd come into my life. That week, I also found out he'd been dating a girl at a different school for nearly a year. 

My perspective on everything changed.

When he returned, when he tried to get me back under his control, he couldn't. Knowing that my friends still liked me and knowing that he'd lied to me- I felt empowered. I slowly cut him out of my life- difficult, because he still wanted to talk to me, hang out with me, and being around him made me queasy. I tried integrating myself into the group my friends had formed in my absence- you can imagine my happiness when they accepted me with open arms. 

Now I had two happy places, both brought to me by band.

I continued working hard, and was named section leader again going into my junior year. I began taking clarinet lessons, and in December 2012, I auditioned for and made it into my county's honor band- the only person from my school to do so that year.

But even though Tony was out of the picture, I still felt residual depression. I still struggled with recognizing my worth, and I'd also begun taking more difficult classes- my grades slipped and it took much of my effort to maintain my GPA. I felt angry most of the time, and band no longer offered me a safe haven. My section was unruly and disrespectful in the fall, and in the spring I lost my place as first chair. 

I experienced a series of panic attacks and my hair was falling out in clumps; the stress was literally killing me from the inside out. The end of my junior year was not a happy one. 

I decided to switch sections and learn to play the tuba, and then I auditioned for drum major- and was appointed Assistant, meaning I'd conduct half the time and play the other. I spent the summer preparing for the upcoming season, half wanting to kill myself all the while.

Then, in July, I attended a three day clinic held at NAU with my band director and the two other drum majors. Three days spent talking solely about band and music and conducting and leadership. We talked about how to make every minute we put in to the activity matter. For me, it was almost like a spiritual journey. It was there that I completely committed myself to the idea of majoring in Music Education.

I drove home, feeling almost renewed. Not fully healed, but I felt as though I had the energy to get up and try again.

So began my senior year. I was taking three AP classes and four electives- difficult, but manageable. My band performed exceptionally well- better than that, actually. I continued my clarinet lessons. I joined choir. I made Honor Band again. I found out I was a valedictorian candidate. I did winter drumline. I was accepted to every university I applied to, offered thousands of dollars in scholarships.

Life was chaotic but harmonious.

In early January 2014, though just months previously I'd wanted nothing more than to become a band director, I rethought my choice. I decided not to major in Music Education. I nearly didn't do college band at all.

I accepted my admission to the University of Nevada. I enrolled in my classes. Band was not one of them. Things no longer felt so harmonious.

And then in June of that year, a friend of mine convinced me to contact the University's band director. I did; he successfully convinced me to commit to the University of Nevada Pride of the Sierra Wolf Pack Marching Band. In August, when I moved to Reno, I walked into the first day of band camp and looked around at the strangers around me and felt lost. But as we began rehearsal, things began to fall into place; I began to feel at home. 

When I was 11, I chose band as an elective because I wasn't much of a singer. When I was 14, it took over my life. At 18, it gave me a family in a place I'd never before been. Band has brought me joy and tears, and it has guided me through rough times and dark places. Without it, (prepare yourself for the cliche) I wouldn't be the person I am today. I might not even be around today.

Band, music, gave me an outlet for every awful and wonderful emotion I've ever felt, it lets me express things I cannot speak to.
Where words fail, music speaks. -Hans Christian Andersen

12 February 2015


A burial site or cemetery. From necro- death and polis- city.

City of death.

Let me back up a bit.

Last semester, I took my first photography class; I really enjoyed it, but, if I'm being honest, I didn't put as much work into it as I should have. Most of my assignments were taken, edited, and printed the day before or the day they were due; most of them were taken in my poorly lit apartment. I did well on most of them, but not as well as I would have liked.

So for my final project, I wanted to:
  • Improve my grade (obviously)
  • Take myself out of my comfort zone
  • And create something completely different than anything before.
The project was to create a seven-photo series, about anything we wanted. I set to work brainstorming.

Inspiration came from the cemetery that lies behind my apartment complex. (My complex actually sits between two cemeteries so no matter which direction I go, I have to pass one.) I thought to myself, Who builds a cemetery two blocks away from a university? I turned to Google, and was not disappointed.

It was a Hebrew cemetery, established in 1878 by the Hebrew Benevolent Society. The land has been in use since then, and is still used today; there are 410 interments.

So now I had my topic, but what did I want to communicate about it? I set about searching for cemetery/grave-related words, hoping something would spark in my mind.

And that brings us back to necropolis.

From that, I found the world of cemetery tourism- taphophilia: a passion or enjoyment of cemeteries.

And that freakin' blew my mind. People go to cemeteries simply for pleasure? Whoa. So I decided to try it. Armed with my camera, I ventured through the gates.

It was strangely peaceful. Something about the air within the fence felt different than the air without it. The headstones were all beautifully carved, particular some of the upright markers.

Yeah, I could see why a cemetery could attract a tourist. I went every day for a week and took tons of photos, eventually settling on the six I'd use for my project:

So why do people go to cemeteries?

To visit loved ones.
To admire architecture.

Cemeteries represent 
a link
between life...
...and death.

(Note: these are my RAW images converted into JPEGS; the final product was a series of black-and-white prints which underwent some intense editing. But the black-and-white files look nothing like the prints; as such, I've decided to stick with the original photos.)

09 February 2015


Hello, all!

As you can see, I've changed the title and url of this blog; you can find a little explanation about it if you go here.

But why now?

Simply put, posting only my writing started to get a little constricting. (And quite frankly, it was a little boring.) I wanted a space where I could post.. well, whatever struck my fancy, really. So it didn't make much sense to call it a writing blog anymore.

Dilettanteish covers all my bases.

Plus, I like it more than Frantic Nighttime Scrawling.

So, as a thanks for bearing with me this long and enduring my impulsive housekeeping decisions, let me offer you a little photography teaser. (These are from the beginning of last semester; just trust that they'll get better as time goes on.)

["The Art Wing," Church Fine Arts Building, University of Nevada] 
["Filling the Frame," Fitzgerald Student Services Building, University of Nevada]

08 February 2015


Your lips, pressed to mine,
make me feel soft;
mold me to your body.
There is nowhere else I want to be.
Your hands, over my fingers,
make me feel small;
lace your fingers with mine.
There is nothing else I'd rather feel.
Your heartbeat, against my ear,
makes me feel quiet;
keep me close to it.
There is nothing else I need to hear.

05 February 2015

always the old way

Loneliness creeps in quietly, expertly avoiding the creaky floorboard and silencing the rusty hinge, an old acquaintance I'm not particularly fond of but can't seem to escape. It matters not that I have drawn the curtains and shut the doors, in my home as well as in my heart; he always finds a way to slither, tiptoe, and claw his way back. He takes a seat at my table, set for one, and we exchange nothing but telepathy; I greet him simply by flinging open the drapes and letting the hope and sunshine stream in. Loneliness winces- it is his Kryptonite- but says nothing. We sit in silence as dead as my soul. I am lost in my thoughts, staring out the window, keeping my focus on the brightness outside that tries valiantly to encourage me. Once, a long time ago, it could have worked, and I could have put off this meeting with Loneliness for another day. And then the clouds come, briefly covering the sun, casting the world into shadow; the sun struggles through. Until they turn into storm clouds, angry purple bruises on the face of the weeping sky, and the earth is suddenly so much darker, colder.. lonely. I glance at Loneliness, his vacant expression and taunting smile, then back outside, where my hope, my only weapon, has disappeared. Still, I try to find the beauty in this sudden storm; isn't the lining of all clouds silver? Beside me, I sense the smugness radiating off of Loneliness. This is a game, to him, one he will inevitably win. He always wins.

We sit together at my table until finally, I give up waiting for the sun, and my hope, to return and close the curtains once more. I cannot get rid of him, but still I refuse to act as a good hostess. I offer no hospitality, no refreshments, but he needs none. He feeds and thrives on my insecurities and my doubts, assuring me that I have good reason to feel this way. After all, Loneliness is my only companion. Even when someone ventures into my home and sits at my table, in the very seat occupied by Loneliness, they don't stay long. I play nicely and try so hard, wishing they would stick around to keep Loneliness at bay, and yet they never stay.. and that is when Loneliness finds me again. He is nothing, if not faithful.

We sit in the one room of this spacious home- house- that I use; all others are untouched, waiting for someone, anyone, to come and stay long enough to explore, leave their footprints in the carpet and their fingerprints on the frames and stir the dust motes from their rest and unbury old memories and create new ones. I have walked through them, on occasion, my sadness trailing behind me like my fingertips across the walls; Loneliness follows, and the pain cripples me, leaving me lost in the depths of a closet, lost in the depths of despair and I am so alone.. save for Loneliness. And so I stay in the front room at the table, welcome anyone who stops by, and wait, as always, for Loneliness to eventually return.

It is our routine, and he will always return, no matter how much I try to fight him off and delay him. One day, I will stop fighting- and I feel that day approaching. Clouds may have silver linings, but shadows don't. They weigh on my shoulders, demons on both sides, a cape sewn out of all my sorrow. One day, the storm raging outside my window will come and never leave and I will be in this house at this table with Loneliness. One day, I will lose hope. That is the ultimate victory, the one he awaits in this game we play. Cat-and-mouse. I cannot escape his grip. Or if I could, the only way out is his grand prize; I would not feel Loneliness anymore, though.. I would not feel anything. Death is not so demanding, does not take as much of a toll.

I lay my head on the table and struggle against the tears I feel coming, but not for long. I let them fall. Loneliness remains motionless, though I can feel his smirk as I silently admit defeat. He has gained the upper hand, once again, and I have given up, once again. The storm outside has moved within me; I can feel it in my shaking hands and my frantic pulse and my hiccupping sobs. It is ripping my soul to shreds. As my pain deepens and my insecurities grow stronger, so does he slowly establish his dominance over me. I have nothing left to fight with, or for. Nothing save for Loneliness, who has taken everything I have not offered to give. All I have is my broken self, and I am hardly worth the effort.