The Killers and Preparing for Departure

Here’s the thing.  Tomorrow evening I shall be attending one Killers concert in Minneapolis.  I’ve talked about going to see the Killers for years: it was this band, you see, that plucked me out of my oldies reverie and forced me to take interest in–heaven forbid–music that people my own age were listening to.  Of course, I still like oldies, but “Change Your Mind” saved me in those days.  It was what I listened to on the bus during my nightmarish first year of high school, when the lime green iPod Mini I clutched was still considered a novelty (I actually remember kids asking if they could just hold it).

Some time has passed since then; now I’m twenty-two-nearly-twenty-three and adult enough to go see my saviors live without a parent.  Imagine that.

Here’s the other thing.  Following the concert, I will be setting off on a road trip of presidential proportions.  Which is my way of saying that I will be visiting Jefferson’s Monticello, Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington D.C., among other eastern United States destinations.  There is quite possibly no one on Earth (except perhaps Mr. McCullough) who would enjoy such a trip as much as I will; it’s as if all of my history buff dreams are coming true at once.  I feel undeservingly lucky, but plan to take you along via this blog, if you’d like to come.

We saw the West last summer:

DSCN3021

My word, my hair was short.

My word, my hair was short. (Badlands)

Salt Lake City LDS Temple

Salt Lake City LDS Temple

Let’s go East this summer.

Trucking

It’s been a shaky day.  I’m overtired and stressed and feel generally that my mental health is hanging by a thread.  I’ve also been struggling to write that darn Woolf paper, and when I went to talk to my professor about it, he was so kind (he told me that he knows that I’m responsible, and that I want my paper to be good, and that he’d give me more time if I needed it) that I almost burst into tears.  I had to make a quick exit and cry in the stairwell because this has been such a hard week, and there are two more hard weeks ahead, and frankly, I don’t see how I can possibly get everything done.

I’m sorry that my last few posts have been so piteous: I know that everything will be fine, and that I’ll manage in the end, as I always have.

It will be another late night tonight, but tomorrow I’ll be attending the UMM Concert Choir’s annual Carol Concert, which is held in the Catholic Church in town, and which is always festive and candlelit and beautiful.  And I’ll probably forget, temporarily, about all the above.

Holly Movies

After the successfully classy wine and cheese party of last night, after four hours of study in the library, and after my second Cloud Cult concert (they also came to UMM my freshman year), I have picked my way back up to my room, dodging forgotten suit jackets and half-melted candles.

My map fell down again today, but rather than wresting with the sticky tack, I’ve left it on the floor, facedown.

I’m expecting a Skype call in a few minutes, and then, as it will likely be too late to do anything else, I think I’ll settle down with a Holly Movie.

They’re gracelessly named, but basically, Holly Movies are historic dramas that are usually artsy, and usually disliked by the rest of the world.  The New World is one such movie.  The two people I naively forced to watch it with me are no longer my friends.  I don’t know what happened there.

Anyway, happy Saturday night.  One day, perhaps, I will again have a television available to me, and will again be able to watch SNL.

Coldplay

Last night, I went to a Coldplay concert in Saint Paul with my sister.  She wore colored jeans, and I, forsaking all trends and risking looking like her parental escort, wore plain old blue jeans.

We sat in the nosebleeds, as all good college students do. We also lost our tans from waiting inside for too long.

It was a fantastic concert.  If you’ve ever seen Chris Martin perform, you know how fun he is to watch.  As he sings, he does a joyous dance, spinning in childlike circles and hopping from foot to foot.  The man behind me put it this way: “He dances the way his music makes you want to dance.  The way you would dance if there was no one else in the world to see you making a fool of yourself.”  Well said, my friend.

There was more than Chris Martin, though.  There were also astounding visuals.  Lights, obviously, crossing across the stadium in neon lines.  Backdrops painted with the old-school New York graffiti that provides the theme of Mylo Xyloto.  And then, suddenly, in great, rocketing bursts, there was confetti.  We weren’t dusted, of course, being in the top row, but the stage was littered with it for the duration of the show.

There were also balloons, which dropped from the ceiling (again, to shower only those lucky few sitting on the floor).  Rather disturbing to me, don’t ask why, was that after the balloons had been crowd-surfed toward the stage, and rolled in a great multi-colored pile, the lights dimmed briefly.  Chris was still singing, but over his voice you could hear the echoing pops of a thousand innocent balloons.  The stage hands had pins, apparently, and whisk brooms to quickly sweep the shards of rubber away.

After the first goodbye, Coldplay appeared again, this time in the middle of the audience, on a narrow platform I hadn’t noticed before.  Here’s a bit of that:

They played, in case you’re wondering, mostly stuff from Mylo Xyloto, but also some older songs.  The encore was quite gratifying, because it featured Speed of Sound, Fix You, Clocks, etc.  The classics.  Clocks, especially, was important to hear: My one and only brush with the semi-gothic was freshman year of high school.  I basically hated it, because I had transferred from private to public, and didn’t have very many friends.  I also had to ride the bus, which was a new and horrifying experience for me.  What made it better was stuffing the buds of my iPod mini (a novelty at the time) into my ears and playing Clocks over and over, while staring wistfully (or so I imagined) out the window.

Clearly, I haven’t changed much since then; I’ve had this on repeat all day:

Reflections on the GRE and Neil Diamond

A Haiku in Fifty-Seven Parts.

Just kidding.

Reflections on the GRE:

It was much more high security than I thought it would be.  The ACT, I remember, was most of my high school senior class packed onto tables in the cafeteria.  We were allowed several breaks, during which we could stretch and chat and wander freely.  The GRE was me in a cubical with a computer and some scratch paper.  No interacting whatsoever was allowed, and entering/exiting the testing site meant a security scan and “turn out your pockets.”

The test itself wasn’t so bad.  I’m glad I took those practice tests, because I generally knew what to expect, how to use the provided calculator, etc.  Right off the bat was the Analytical Writing bit, which I, admittedly, had been dreading even more than the math.  Writing I have no problem with.  Writing under pressure, however, having to make coherent, organized, snappy arguments in a short amount of time, is not always my strong suit.  It went really, really well though.  I had a lot to say, but I had sufficient time to say it, and even to read it over a few times for good measure.  That made me feel confident heading into the rest of the test, and I have to say that if my Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores aren’t up to snuff, I’ll be crushed to have to retake the test and lose those beautiful (if you’ll allow me the presumption) Analytical Writing scores.

Reflections on What Happened Afterward:

Immediately following the GRE, after I breathed a few long sighs of relief on the sidewalk, where the sun was beating down like nothing had happened, Mom picked me up and shuttled me downtown to the St. Paul Grill.

Now, when my Aunt, who is the only other person in the family who was excited at the prospect of seeing Neil Diamond, said that we’d have dinner at the St. Paul Grill, I thought of outdoor seating, sandwiches and salads, paper placemats that we could doodle on if our meal took an hour to arrive.  What I didn’t think of was this:

Possibly the best restaurant in the Twin Cities, stationed inside the St. Paul hotel, which was built in 1910 and features the likes of crystal chandeliers, roses, tuxedoed men, and darkly-papered rooms lined with rich wood.

People like Gene Autry, Lawrence Welk, James J. Hill, and Charles Lindbergh have stayed at the hotel.

That pales, however, in comparison to the person whose picture was hanging unassumingly on the wall of the Grill.

I know you’ve guessed it.

This guy ate at the St. Paul Grill back when the mirrored bar wasn’t lined with gem-like bottles of alcohol:

And so, of course, my night was made even before we got to the concert.

Neil was wonderful, though, as I suspected he would be.  Not only does he still sound (for the most part) the way he did in the 1970s, but that man knows how to work a crowd.  He would stop in between songs to tell stories, or to say something gracious about the audience, or to voice a ridiculous notion like his mission to ‘earn our loyalty’ through his performance.  You’ve already got it, Mr. Diamond.

Several of the people we ran into, for example, mentioned that they had been coming to see Neil since he first played the Twin Cities over forty years ago. “Some of the old folks have died off since he was last here,” quipped the twinkly man in front of me.

Another thing I’ll say for Neil is that he didn’t skimp on the classics.  “Sweet Caroline” (BUH BUH BUH), “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Shores” (my favorite), “Forever in Blue Jeans,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “I Am…I Said,” and of course…

I couldn’t resist making an illegal recording.  Neil Diamond was singing my song, for heavens’ sakes.

My Room is a Pigsty: An Analysis

My room usually acts as a gauge for the pace of my life.  When I’m relaxed, with little on my plate, my room is clean, save the never-shrinking pile of books on my nightstand.  When I’m busy however, with no time to pick up after myself, my room looks the way it does presently:

Nightstand littered not only with books, but with knickknacks: a miniature fan from last week’s heat wave, two empty plastic cups that once held water, a plastic jewel I saved from Cherry’s mouth and then took home in my pocket by mistake, lotion that doesn’t seem to work on mosquito bites, a compass from physics class, duct tape I accidentally stole from the theatre (I’m noticing a trend here), half a dozen bobby pins, and a watch that still sports the crusty remains of Ponyboy’s “Mud Monster” afternoon.

Clothes on floor, movies on floor, empty oatmeal canisters on floor (who am I kidding?  I will never use them for a craft project), several shoes on floor, sheaf of pages from my Word of the Day calendar on floor.

As I sit on the bed, typing to you in the semi-darkness (so I can’t see the pigsty that is my room, of course), I am surrounded by physics notebook, folder, and textbook, three of my research books, Anna Karenina (current ‘for fun’ read), plus camera, iPod, brush, and (goodness knows why) checkbook.

I’m ignoring everything, however, until after the GRE.  That happens Wednesday.  I took a practice test today, and found out that while I score in the 95th percentile for Verbal Reasoning, my Quantitative Reasoning is dismal.  The thing about the GRE is that if you get an answer wrong, they give you an easier question next (and if you get one right, they give you a harder question next).  Knowing this, the entire time I tested I was distracted trying to decide whether a question was harder or easier than the last.  I probably shouldn’t let myself think about that on Wednesday.

No matter how it goes, however, I’ll have a phenomenal evening in store.  My aunt and I are going to see this beautiful man:

Please tell me you appreciate the classic feel-good sound that is Neil Diamond.  And please don’t ask me if I’m actually a 65 year-old woman in disguise.  I get that enough from my mom and my sister.

Neil Diamond

I’m facing a serious dilemma.  No one, including my family and people I have previously considered to be friends, will agree to see Neil Diamond in concert with me.

What is the world coming to?  Doesn’t anyone like Neil Diamond anymore?

I’ve been listening to the man since I was little, and Mom would play oldies in the car on the way to school.  Then, when I was about fifteen, I discovered that Neil Diamond sings a song called “Holly Holy.”  And that was it.

This, besides my song, is my favorite Neil Diamond.  Listen to it, think about it, imagine how good he would be in concert.

Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show

(Sorry I couldn’t post the actual video; I couldn’t figure out how)