Pros and Cons

Pro: I love autumn
Con: I have seasonal menopausal symptoms
Pro: I got medication for these symptoms
Con: The medication doesn’t totally alleviate these symptoms
Pro: There are worse things than seasonal menopausal symptoms, for example constant menopausal symptoms, or having to flee your homeland only to face racist violence abroad
Con: Racist violence abroad
Pro: Soon all humans will be dead anyway
Con: We will be taking a lot of nice animals with us
Pro: I have a nice animal I live with
Con: His mouth smells like dead fish
Pro: He is very dainty and doesn’t enjoy rolling in dead animals as other dogs do
Con: He is so dainty he is a little princess who cries when anything mildly unusual happens
Pro: He barks at intruders
Con: He barks at everyone who comes inside the house
Pro: His bark is very handsome
Con: During a wrasslin’ session he bit my husband on the forehead and left a big bruise
Pro: Bruises usually heal
Con: Bruises can be unsightly
Pro: My husband’s long flowing silver hair covers the bruise
Con: My husband’s long flowing silver hair covers literally every surface of our house no matter what I do or how much he brushes and grooms himself
Pro: My husband is the one who does the vacuuming
Con: The dog is afraid of the vacuum
Pro: The dog can go to hell
Con: There is no hell
Pro: There is no hell
Con: My computer died at the very instant the Tristan chord was finally going to resolve to the tonic and all my students screamed
Pro: This ended up actually being the ideal teaching tool
Con: Everyone felt sick
Pro: That is how you should feel when listening to Wagner
Con: Wagner was an awful human being
Pro: He has been dead a long time
Con: His music lives on
Pro: His music lives on
Con: Music will die along with humanity
Pro: No one will ever hear Mumford and Sons again
Con: There is no hell, so Mumford and Sons can’t go there
Pro: This coffee shop never plays Mumford and Sons
Con: They play “old blues” playlists which means sometimes “Strange Fruit” is playing like it’s normal background music, and I get sick to my stomach
Pro: They also don’t realize that due to putting on this playlist they are also often playing EXTREMELY SEXUALLY EXPLICIT songs, such as “Warm my Weiner” and “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me” by Bo Carter
Con: I don’t understand how to spell “wiener”
Pro: “Wiener” is a funny-looking word whichever way you spell it
Con: I forgot to go to the community spelling bee last week
Pro: The community spelling bee would have been very stressful
Con: I am stressed all the time
Pro: So is everyone else
Con: Everyone is stressed all the time
Pro: Soon everyone will be dead
Con: When a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to be stressed out about it, did it really happen?
Pro: Our apple tree is amazing and beautiful
Con: Our apple tree is way too big and we need to hire an arborist to deal with it without killing it
Pro: We get to hire an arborist, something I surely never imagined myself doing
Con: It will probably cost a million dollars
Pro: I make big bucks as a fancy fat-cat professor
Con: That was a joke
Pro: Jokes make life worth living
Con: Not everyone likes my jokes
Pro: All the people who don’t like my jokes will be dead soon
Con: I will also be dead soon
Pro: I will be in heaven with the angels
Con: That was also a joke
Pro: “You gotta laugh”
Con: “Laugh while your heart is breaking”
Pro: Women rarely have heart attacks
Con: Women have crippling menopausal symptoms that are often difficult to medicate or alleviate with lifestyle changes

Posted in Opinion | Leave a comment

Cider Fest

Oh! But I also forgot to tell you about the Cider Festival we went to last weekend! I mean, I may be filled constantly with career-based anxiety but in other ways I am TRULY LIVING THE DREAM, it’s worth keeping in mind!

As you know, we have this enormous apple tree. We have decided that the best way to deal with our apples is to make cider. It’s the only way to process massive amounts of apples in a timely fashion, plus I am interested in fermentation. We also have to get a chest freezer, but that is another issue.

So we have been doing some research. We got Annie Proulx’s book about cider-making, which is overwhelmingly thorough. We figured out where we can buy a rad old-style home cider-press that doesn’t use electricity or anything. We are getting set. Then Cider Days happened in our town! This is the kind of shit you get when you move to rural New England! Along with concerned letters to the editor about what happens to all the pumpkins after the pumpkin-carving contest (they are composted).

It could not have been more delightful. I truly felt reborn, like for one day I had been cleansed of my worries, and was just taking such genuine and deep pleasure out of just existing on the earth as a living creature. Then of course I had to go to a MEETING that night (i.e. Sunday, did you ever hear of such a thing), but still.

The festival we went to was in a small town 30 minutes away from ours. By “town,” I mean that it was a series of farms surrounding a small white church that had been built in 1794. We parked in a small field, walked past a single port-a-potty, down a hill, and emerged onto a flat little lawn next to a big-ass barn. There was a broad vista overlooking an apple orchard and a small herd of llamas.

There were maybe 40 people milling around, and five booths. This is what a “festival” in rural New England consists of. It was awesome. The booths were selling cider, cider syrup, cider vinegar, squash soup made with cider, cider donuts, apple butter, apples by the bushel or peck, wool socks made with wool from the llamas, and beautiful hand-carved wooden bowls. There were also hot dogs. And there were real dogs, just wandering around, and people were giving them bits of the hot dogs. Everyone was getting something nice, was the point, even the llamas, who were eating apples.

We walked down to the orchard, where we met a lady holding a crock of crushed apples. She told us the orchard belonged to her 80 year old aunt, who had bought it in the 60s. The orchard is 170 years old. We walked amongst the trees and laid our hands on them, feeling their vibes. The trees were beautiful, gnarled, ancient, and fragrant. Some still had stubborn winter apples clinging to their higher branches; little spots of red in the yellow and orange foliage. “There are ticks,” the lady warned us apologetically.

Back at the festival, we stood around in a small cluster, our backs to a pleasant fire someone had started, around which a bunch of people were desultorily chatting. Then, an angel appeared. Her name was April and she was wonderful. She was perhaps my age (not too young; not too old; JUST RIGHT). She runs a women’s cider-making collective where they all go to each other’s houses and taste each other’s cider when it’s time to rack the cider. Talk about living the dream! April put on a cider-making demonstration that was extremely empowering. Her basic instruction was “don’t worry about it.” She’d say things like “now you can dump some sugar in….or you don’t have to!” or she’d say “I just use a regular old hose but you can buy a fancy one if you want.” People aggressively interrupted her to ask questions that sounded angry, which at first startled me but then I remembered that this is New England and that culturally they don’t consider that kind of behavior rude. “HOW DO YA KEEP FLIES OUTTA THERE???” someone would yell, and April would say “That’s a REALLY good question,” and then answer it clearly. One person interrupted her to angrily say “Well I bet THOMAS JEFFERSON didn’t use that chemical crap to sterilize HIS cider barrels” and April very graciously said “you’re right, I bet he just used boiling water. But I also bet he got sick a lot.” After awhile I started asking questions too–when in Rome, right?–and she answered them all clearly and efficiently.

After the demonstration, she just started opening up bottles of cider her friends had made, and pouring everyone tastes of it. Then other people who had brought their own homemade cider started bringing out jugs and mason jars and old kombucha bottles full of it, and walking around in the crowd pouring people slugs. We’d all been given free commemorative glasses for some reason. At no point were IDs checked, wristbands given, or any other official or legal action taken of any kind. We were just a bunch of grown-ass strangers, standing around a campfire in some old lady’s orchard, drinking apple jack some crazy man wearing a leather jacket had just pulled out of the trunk of his car. Everyone stood around discussing methods, spices, temperature, gravity, and apple varieties. I was concerned because I’d gathered you can’t make good cider out of Macintoshes, which we are pretty sure is what our tree is. However, April said she’s had “amazing” cider made out of Macs, so we are going for it.

After the demonstration, we walked up to her to say thank you. We had as yet not spoken to her or introduced ourselves or anything, but when we walked up her eyes got wide, and she pointed at us, and she said, “YOU’RE gonna make CIDER…….I CAN FEEL IT.” She said we can email her anytime and she will answer all our questions.

I really think she was the greatest person in the world.

Driving home, full of squash soup and cider donuts and cider, and smelling like a campfire in the best possible way, we saw our rosy future. “I’m gonna go to the beer store while you’re gone, and get a cider making kit,” my old man declared. When I get back, we’re going to go buy 5 gallons of golden russet cider from these local dudes, and spend the winter trying to make our first batch, so we’ll be ready next fall when our own tree starts producing again.

It was so great. It made me feel alive and well. People are beautiful and so much of what they do with their time on this earth is beautiful and interesting.





The bartender at this hotel bar keeps asking me if I’m SURE I don’t want some Bailey’s in my coffee. It is noon.

Posted in Opinion | 3 Comments


I am at my discipline’s big yearly conference. It is interesting to look back on the ten years (!!) I have been attending this conference and to sort of assess the changes in my life by examining the changes in my relationship to it (the conference (also my life)). At first this conference was fun, then it was a horrible stressful ordeal, and now it is less stressful but still stressful, but I have my own hotel room, which I always thought would make me feel like my ship had come in, and honestly, it has, a little bit.

Every person in this hotel bar is a musicologist staring out the window at the freeway. What are we all thinking. I bet we are all thinking really similar things. I bet almost everyone at this conference feels terrible about themselves and fearful about who they are going to meet and how big of a fool they are going to make of themselves. Fox News has been blasting this whole time; apparently Donald Trump has promised to implement a “Deportation Squad” wherein illegal immigrants will be (killed in a giant gas chamber); everyone cheers; this is America, look it in the face. This is what you get when you say things like “that could never happen HERE.” The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser, I guess

I love that Obama is compared to Hitler, but then someone comes along and LITERALLY advocates doing what Hitler did and the news is like “is this a reasonable immigration policy? Tweet us your opinion!” Ha ha ha ha haaaa

I also read an article attempting to shame the public for no longer having faith in journalism. HA HA HA HA HA HAAA

I got here way too early and tried to be adventurous and go to a LOCAL place for breakfast, not the HOTEL, and I walked and walked and walked and all I found was this weird local chain that served maybe the worst breakfast I’ve ever had, and they had a full bar, and at one point I actually looked closely at the bar, and EVERY SINGLE BOTTLE–probably 75 bottles total–was BOURBON. Can you guess where I am?

I think I’m realizing I just don’t like traveling that much. I don’t actually care that much about eating hush puppies in Georgia or whatever. I like to stay home. My old man is always like, “lets go to INDIA” or “don’t you want to go to MADAGASCAR” and I just don’t want to. I would go to a B&B in the Berkshires and that’s pretty much it. And I’d still be glad to get home afterward. I like my dog and my stuff and my routine. I’m like a dog myself. Here is where the sun shines; here is where the sky is blue.

Except I will say I would love to live in France for a year, specifically and solely to become fluent. I like goal-based travel, I guess. I guess I’d also like to go sit on a beach somewhere for a week and not speak or read or move. “We will NEVER do that,” my old man hatefully informed me. I also would like to go to the Moon. So those are my four exceptions.

I will say that this hotel bar is made of an aquarium. So you sit and lean your elbows on an aquarium, with living creatures in it. It is horrifying. There is also a giant bird cage in the middle of the room, filled with living birds. I am in a nightmare.

On the plus side, they for some reason put me in a suite, with a balcony overlooking the river/freeway. What a lovely place to get so much grading done! Last night after working on my paper somehow for four hours, I went down to the hotel bar, got two beers, and brought them back up to my room. And felt pretty great about my life in that moment.

I do enjoy staying in a hotel by myself. It is like a moment out of time. You just sort of INHABIT. It feels very basic. Here is where I brush my teeth; here is me in the shower. I never turn on the TV. In the morning it is impossible to tell what time it is.

Here is a nice man


I truly wish my paper were over. I am so tired of worrying about it. I am so tired of worrying about a lot of things, including some things that are much, much bigger than my stupid paper.

“Worrying does not rob tomorrow of its sorrow; it only robs today of its joy”

I also somehow always pack weirdly for this conference. I always end up with outfits that are somehow not professional but also not even nice looking. Like pants that I abruptly realize are way too big, or somehow I bring no long sleeves even though it’s 10 degrees in the city where the conference is, or a weird dress. One time I brought boots I thought were very professional and then literally everyone at the conference was like “Wow, those boots are…”


Everybody hates Wagner but me. Maybe that should be what I write a book about. “How Come I Like Wagner When I Am Not The Kind Of Person Who Likes Wagner: A Dialectics of Ontology”

Every time I look up there are more musicologists in here. It is starting. The Beethoven panel has already begun. Soon I will be doing my annual thing where I somehow always miss all the exciting papers even though I try so hard to figure out which ones they will be. This year I am going to follow one of my smarter friends around instead of making my own decisions. Last year I missed the super-packed panel on pedagogy where everyone was yelling and attendees had to stand out in the hall because there was no more room. I missed it because I went instead to this incredibly weird theory paper that I didn’t even understand. I don’t know what is wrong with me. “How Do You Know How To Be”


Here is what happens re: the love story in Days of Thunder.

A car racing man crashes his car and goes into the hospital
When his doctor Nicole Kidman comes in to examine him, he thinks she is a stripper, and puts her hand on his dick
She is not mad
When he realizes she is actually a doctor, and thus worthy of human respect (unlike a stripper), he is chagrined
He gets her personal home address from the hospital somehow, and orders that her apartment be filled completely with flowers and balloons
She is charmed rather than terrified by this; she has sex with him
Then he goes on a furious car chase with her in the car screaming for him to stop and let her out, which he does not do, and it is legitimately actually dark and scary
She screams at him and shoves and punches him, and again he is chagrined, his face is like, “why did I do that crazy thing, this human doctor is right to shove me”
Then he goes on one last big car race even though he is afraid of grievous brain injury and honestly just wants his daddy
He doesn’t have a daddy though, just Robert Duvall, who builds him a special car
Nicole Kidman shows back up inexplicably and is impressed by his manly stoic behavior before the big race even though she knows he is afraid of brain injury, because she is a brain doctor and told him that crashing your car can hurt your brain, which is what scared him a lot, because he didn’t know that before
He’s like “I made another man a promise so I am going to do the big race even though I’m scared of injuring my brain”
She’s like “you are brave and heroic”
She watches him win the big race
He kisses her once then looks frantically around for his daddy
He finds his daddy and runs over to him
They talk for awhile about how they love one another as a father and a son (not literally)
then they race each other to the bar for victory shots
We never see Nicole Kidman again


Posted in Opinion | 3 Comments