Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spring Break

Ah Spring Break, where art thou gone, and wherefore must thou pass so quickly?

I've been looking forward to my spring break trip to New Mexico to visit HQ, who moved there to work at Los Alamos at the same time that I moved to Princeton. MW and HH arranged to fly out from Boston at the same time, so we had a four-way reunion. We all trained together in taekwondo in Boston, hence the connection. After looking forward to it all semester, it's suddenly in the past! I shall have to begin looking forward to CC's wedding in Paris now - that at least is far enough away that I shall get a good deal of anticipation out of it.

Saturday night I stayed at a hostel in Philly b/c my plane left early, and the trains from Princeton don't run at 4 am. Word to the wise: if you are staying in a room w/ 20 other people, and you have to get up at 5 am, and you can't turn on the lights, and it's dark outside, bring a flashlight. I had to pack by feel, groping around on the floor. I flew out on Sunday to Albuquerque - all 3 of them met me there, and drove me the hour and a half back to Los Alamos. I got showered, and the others went to the grocery store and cooked for a little dinner party in the evening, where I met people from HQ's New Mexico taekwondo school. They were all very charming, and I got a good salad dressing recipe out of the encounter as well.

Sunday night Los Alamos got the heaviest snowfall it has had all year. The labs were closed on Monday, so HQ stayed home with us instead of going to work in the morning. We hung out, and talked, and watched TV and movies. We went out to eat lunch at a Thai restaurant, and went out to eat dinner at the home of the owner and head instructor at HQ's taekwondo school. That was interesting - we talked about martial arts and his history, and he showed us some knife defense techniques and we watched some videos of belt tests. Tuesday we woke up to twice as much snow as Monday, and the labs were again closed. This was the day we all trekked out to the gym. We did some wrestling, and weight-lifting, and forms, and I practiced my punching and sparring with MW. I foolishly tried to keep up with HH in weight-lifting, and for the rest of the trip my legs were sore. That night HQ made us yummy things with chicken and chickpeas.

Wednesday we went to a spa near Santa Fe, and sat outside in a steaming hottub and watched the snow fall off trees, occasionally onto us. Then we went to eat and shop in Santa Fe, regrettably for a short period of time. I like cheesy touristy clusters of little shops, I can't help it. I got a few presents, and also got a blanket, since I'm worried about having enough blankets when I have visitors later this month. Then we went together to work out at HQ's taekwondo school. I liked it - they really gave us a good workout! I did fine until the sparring, which was dreadful. Understandable, since I haven't worked out seriously for a year and a half. But sad. I believe the altitude also had something to do with it, since in my second match I suddenly felt as if I couldn't move - my body simply stopped fighting. Generally I'll get slower if I'm tired or out-of-shape, but this was a new experience. MW had my back, though, and told everyone I hadn't been training for a year, so hopefully their poor opinion was mitigated.

We went out for a beer afterwards, and then it was back to pack. Thursday was entirely occupied by travel, broken for a brief dinner with old Williams friends in Philadelphia. I got home at 1 am.

Friday I did my taxes and cleaned the kitchen. Today I ran a few errands, did some cleaning, and met a prospective roommate for next year. I have still not made much of a dent in the pile of schoolwork waiting. All I have to do this week is get through 4 days - we have Good Friday off, presumably b/c so many students work in churches, and next week is Ensemble Week for Berlioz Damnation of Faust, meaning there's no classes. There will, however, be work for me - I haven't even looked at the Berlioz yet. I'm allowed to sing with them although I'm not in that division of Symphonic, b/c I'm a conducting student, but I have to learn the music on my own. Luckily it's very male-dominated - hurrah for stereotypical portrayals of soldiers and demons!

One of the errands I ran was to stop by the Princeton Record Exchange to see if I could get a recording of Damnation of Faust to help me learn it. I didn't find that...but as I always do there, I found a number of good bargains. So I am now the owner of:

Mozart's entire Le nozze de Figaro (w/ Fischer-Dieskau, and Barenboim conducting)
Charpentier, 2 oratorios, w/ Les Arts Florissants
A Palestrina mass and a Victoria mass (and the motets they're based on), by the Choir of King's College
Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky, and Lieutenant Kije
And, for less than $2, 2 cantatas by 2 composers I've never heard of before, Janis Kalnins and Alfreds Kalnins

All this, 6 cds total, for under $30. I have become quite spendthrift where CDs are concerned this year...but I justify it by claiming it as my responsibility. After all, learning the repertoire is one of the keys to being a good conductor!


  1. I have a Damnation of Faust, in Italian, from a live 1964 broadcast. Conducted by Peter Maag, with Giulietta Simionato and Ettore Bastianini. If that would be useful to you, you can borrow it.

  2. I did order one from Amazon yesterday. So if you're worried about letting it out of your hands, don't worry. But I would be interested in hearing it sometime!

  3. Skyler12:55 AM

    Oh good, because I did buy it in Vienna!

    What recording did you order? I had one on LP with Nicolai Gedda as Faust that I liked a lot.

  4. I got at CD of Myung-Whun Chung conducting what I believe is the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Anne-Sofie von Otter, Bryn Terfel, Victor von Halem, and Keith Lewis.