Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The odd thing is, I didn't tweak this photo at all.  The tulips really were glowing like lightbulbs...

I rarely do a random post like this, but I feel like I have several unrelated things I want to share/talk about.

Thing 1:  I haven't been knitting very much lately.  I think it is mostly due to the fact that I have three current projects on the needles - my Autumn Arbor Stole, my Evenstar Shawl, and the Cubism Afghan.  In my mind they all seem to be such long-term projects that I have little motivation to work on them.  I feel that because in any given day I can hardly make even the smallest dent in any of them, it's not worth my time to do it.  I know, I know, my logic doesn't really make sense, but that's the way I feel.  I long for a project in which I can see visible progress from day to day, but I would feel guilty starting anything new knowing that my brother's blanket isn't finished.  A quick fling with some colorwork would be so nice, though...

Thing 2:  In four weeks I will officially be a college graduate.  This does not freak me out or make me feel nauseous.  On the contrary, I am very excited to finally be completing my undergraduate career.  I would be lying if I said that it was smooth sailing (though as most of you only know me through this blog, it would be difficult to guess.  It's interesting to look at my life through the lens of my blog - noticing what I've included and what has been omitted), but I did enjoy my time here.  This might be terrible of me to say, but I'm not even sad to be leaving some friends behind when I move to Pittsburgh.  I don't say this to mean that I don't cherish them, I say it because I've learned over the years that the friendships that truly matter don't disappear when you leave.  They're always only a phone call, an email, a road trip, or a plane ticket away.  I'm not sad to be leaving my friends behind because I know that they'll still be present in my life.

Thing 3:  This is really the most exciting thing, and the main reason for this blog post.

A month ago, had you asked me what my summer plans were, I would have told you that I would be returning home to spend my summer broke and unemployed, counting down the days until I move out east for school.

Well, plans have changed...  Instead of spending my summer in Minnesota, I will be hopping on a plane and flying out of the country for the first time!  I will be flying abroad to spend a month at an intensive summer music program.  No, I'm not going to Vienna or Paris or Italy.  In fact, I'm not even going to be studying Western Classical Music at all!  This summer I will instead find myself studying the traditional performing arts of Bali in Indonesia!!!

You see, I'm currently taking a class on the performing arts of Bali and I think it is absolutely fascinating!  It is taught by an ethnomusicologist who has spent a great deal of time in Bali herself studying the music and culture.  Her husband, in fact, is a famous Balinese dancer and musician who now leads the gamelan gong kebyar ensemble in which I play here at school.  I applied to a summer institute in Bali and was one of 35 people from around the world accepted to come to Bali to study with a professional gamelan, as well as famous dancers and musicians from around the island.

If you're curious what the music sounds like, this Youtube video (sorry, I don't know how to actually embed a video into the post) is a good example of what gamelan music sounds like, with the added bonus that you get to see one of the traditional Balinese dance forms!

While on the island, I will get to attend music, dance, and drama performances, as well as temple ceremonies.  I'm particularly excited to see a shadow puppet show and a mask dance.

Although I won't be studying Western Classical Music, I'm considering this both a study abroad to continue my musical education and a graduation present to myself.  I know I can learn a lot from this trip and I am eager to arrive to begin my studies.  I am already taking several lessons a week on the different gamelan instruments in addition to the weekly ensemble rehearsals hoping that I will be well-prepared for my time in Bali.  Through my class I am learning not only about the performing arts, but also about the culture, history, traditions, and lifestyles of Bali.  Of course, I will be sure to take plenty of pictures while I'm there to share with you all when I get back.

Some may think it's unwise to take a month off from studying clarinet right before beginning grad school, but I think this is going to be an invaluable, once-in-a-lifetime experience and, to be completely honest, I sort of need a bit of a break from "classical" music.  (Don't tell anyone I said that, though.)

I am very excited to be experiencing Bali in this way.  However, I have mixed feelings about the idea of being a "tourist".  I don't like the idea of viewing another culture from the outside, with a camera in one hand, a map in the other and a fanny pack around my waist.  I'm glad that I will be spending my time with many Balinese people, eating home-cooked meals, experiencing not only their culture, but also sharing stories about my own.  I will, for the most part, be experiencing true Balinese culture, and not simply the "tourist culture" that is so prevalent on the island.  I really can't ask for anything better.  Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I won't come down with a crippling case of culture shock! (...or food poisoning.)

P.S.  Is it weird that I haven't bought my plane ticket yet, but I've already planned what knitting projects I'm going to bring?  Do you think they have any good yarn shops in Bali?  I wonder if they even have sheep...


  1. Yay for you! I love gamelan music!

    I probably wouldn't expect much in the way of wool or yarn shops in Bali, but I bet you can find some lovely textiles there.

    As for food poisoning, e-mail me and I'll help you out with preparing for that. If you're careful and prepared, you should be able to nip most problems in the bud.

  2. How exciting! I'm sure it will be a summer never to be forgotten. (Now, planning what knitting projects to bring before buying a ticket sounds perfectly normal to me!)
    I agree it's interesting comparing what's included in one's blog to what isn't. Also, glancing at old posts makes me remember lots of things that aren't in the posts.

  3. I think it is a FANTASTIC idea! There is absolutely nothing that will benefit you more than doing a whole bunch of different things and experiencing new ideas and culture and traveling. I'm hopeful you'll be able to post from Bali for us?!?

  4. OMG gamelan!! That's so exciting! We got to learn about (and play a little) gamelan at All State Orchestra camp, my second year there, and I've been fascinated ever since.

    I am seriously so excited for you!

  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  6. Perfect idea for a summer before grad school. You may never again have the opportunity to do something like this again. I spent a year in Denmark between my undergrad and grad school studies and it was one of the best life experiences ever. I am so happy for you! Wise decision.

  7. Peter! That's such exciting news! It will be an amazing experience to be deeply involved in another culture first hand. Different experiences will make you a better person and a better musician.

  8. You're going to have such an amazing time! I'm really excited for your adventure.

    Also, I wouldn't feel guilty about wanting an instant gratification knit. The three projects you have going are very long-term, and think about how many UFOs you've completed this year. It's justified, in my opinion.

  9. I am so excited for you! Googling for yarn stores showed me around Baltimore. *L*

    Oh, and I agree with you. I think this is the break that you need.


  10. Having an Evenstar shawl sitting somewhere in my room, I totally understand the lack of motivation thing. I used to feel similarly about reading...if I wasn't reading the required reading, I shouldn't read fun stuff. The result was that I stopped reading for a good portion of time during college. I don't think that was a good thing. Do you have a day where you can block out several hours to take that afghan to some place remote, so that you have nothing else to do? You might get over the hump.

    That Balinese music thing is very cool. I can see it being one of those things that could possibly change all your music forevermore. It's not a waste at all! I'm impressed that you've been able to play with an ensemble of that sort already!

  11. Your summer program sounds amazing! Have fun in Bali.

  12. Peter.....you are in for a life changing experience. There is absolutely nothing like traveling abroad to give one a more well-rounded look at what the world is really like. Do not worry one iota that taking a month off from classical is a poor idea. I honestly believe nothing could be further from the truth.
    You didn't mention when you will be going or if you plan to keep up your blog while you are there. Personally, I hope you won't feel that you have to keep the blog going for us. Right now it is important that you take this time for yourself and that you take from the experience the most you can. (But....when you get back....you have to tell all!). I will be excited to hear how things go.
    Ahhhhh.......to be young again and have the whole world and most of my life ahead of me. I hope you know how lucky you are!

  13. Whoa! How incredibly cool and exciting!! I don't know anything about that music, so I'll go listen to the video. I'll bet Mel's right, you'll find some incredible textiles. My bro used to travel to Thailand, and he'd pack a small suitcase inside of a large, empty one... for room for things to bring home.

    I'm glad you're going to one of the "ends" of PA... because that state is pretty much Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Alabama in between. Scary conservative place is Central PA...

    Don't worry about the knitting thing, you have a lifetime to do it.

  14. Wow, how exciting! You're going to have a fantastic time -- enjoy!

    I believe in having a small project along with a big one, just for the reasons you cited.

  15. Congrats and no I do not think it is strange that you haven't bought your ticket....lol

  16. Peter,
    That is so exciting! You have so many changes happening to you in the next few months! Everyone definitely needs new experiences in their lives and I say go for it while you can. I would rather do it than later say, "I should have." Do you have your passport yet? You might want to apply if you haven't already, because this takes several weeks. Congratulations on everything! You are definitely a live wire and I'm so happy for you!

  17. Have a wonderful time, be safe, and tell us all about it!

  18. Congrats on the summer excitement, it should be a great experience and a good way to give yourself a little break before the rigors of grad school.