Better Times

Wednesday night I stepped out of the Mons train station onto a blanket of snow. I started the walk home, taking a route that I’ve come to know so well. As I began to climb the first hill I couldn’t help myself, I began to cry. I also wasn’t able to stop grinning like an idiot.

About an hour and twenty minutes before I had shed those tears in the snow I was just taking my seat on my train home from Paris. I put on the new Beach House album and got out my copy of John Cage’s Silence. A few minutes later a girl, maybe a little bit older than me, black, took the seat next to me. The train started to move, I read a few sections of my book, and then closed it and set it on the little fold down table in front of me. A moment went by and the girl gestured to my book

“Can I read?” (in English)

“Sure…”

I shrugged and handed it to her. I detected some sort of an accent, but I’m not sure where she was from.
I proceeded to fall asleep (now to the new Charlotte Gainsbourg) as she tore into Silence. An hour later I woke up in preparation for my stop and she was till reading intently. I looked over and she smiled

“Very good!”

“Yeah?…keep it”

“You want to give it to me?”

“Yeah”

She said thank you about five times, and like that I exited the train.

Maybe that was the first time she’s ever heard of John Cage. Maybe she would have never been introduced to music of that strain, philosophies of that depth. Or maybe she’s already known these things.
I don’t know. I may never know. but I hope that she enjoys it. I hope that it gives something to her. I hope that she can give something too.
Maybe this is what those people feel like who hand out tracts or leave bibles in hotel rooms.
It felt good to spread the word, spread my religion. I became a bit lightheaded as I sloshed through the streets of Mons.
My bag felt a little lighter too.

Press Play

Emails I have sent today:

Ingrid -

As it turns out, I’ll be back probably late Feb. (long story)
I’ll send something your way when I’m back on American soil and we can hang, work etc when you have the time
Looking forward to it ;]

Glen -

Hello! This is Kassie (Samara’s girlfriend). Due to some complicated circumstances I will be leaving Belgium around the end of February. I’m trying to get all my traveling in before I leave and I haven’t seen Paris yet. If you have some time free, even just for a day, that I could come visit I would be really grateful. If not I understand, I know it’s kind of last minute.
Hope all is well with you and the family, and I’ll await your response.

Samara -

yeah. I think it’s right.

Tony -

Due to some complicated circumstances (long story) I’ll be back in the US sometime late Feb.
Do you think I could fit in some lessons with you before I head out of state? I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time and am in need to really start working with composition.
Let me know what you think.
Hope you’re well ;]

Max -

I just spoke with my district chairman (Eric) here and it has been agreed for me to return late February. I guess what I need now is your permission.
I could go into a long detailed email about everything that has passed even since my move, but I think you know most of it. I’ll put it simply…it’s just not working. I’ve come to the point where I’ve realized I need to stop trying to make it work. What I’m saying is something you know very well…and exchange is not for everyone. Maybe it was a mistake for me to take this trip, but it was a mistake I’m glad I made. I’ve gained and incredible amount of invaluable knowledge about life and most of all myself. But I’ve also learned that it’s time to go. It’s been incredible, it’s been fun, but it’s time to go back and get my life together, because life for me here isn’t advancing.
I want to thank you for all you’ve done, and I hope you understand my reasons.

I’ll be waiting to hear from you,

- Kass

you do the math.

Tonight I’m going out with Les Gays to see a film during the Gay and Lesbian Festival of Belgium.
Tomorrow night I’m cooking dinner. woo.
Friday I’m going to European Parliament in Brussels.
For now I’m going to finish my mint tea and continue to take care of business on my end.

Later.

Playing Along

Last night was the first time I encountered someone who is working under “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. I didn’t get the chance to talk with him, he was too busy flitting about and being drooled over by all the other guys in the bar. I’m not sure why it was so impressionable for me, he didn’t seem to mind that much.

I’m feeling a bit worn down. I’m not sure how much more I can do here. I’m not sure how much more there is for me to do here. There are still some beautiful moments to be had, though few and far between.
Friday night I went out with my favorite bartender, Cedric. In our company was an eastern European guy (who is in love with Cedric), the most typical straight guy I’ve met here so far (he enjoys video games, and American football…especially the lingerie bowl), and Cath (her wife works at the bar across the street). We ended up at that bar across the street and then Cath took me to see this all lesbian band who was playing in Mons. Afterward we ate fries and talked while escaping the rain under a storefront before returning to the others at the bar. Later, I met an American soldier there that invited me to go on a holy quest for the best beer in the world the next morning. “Sure, why not?”. The night ended with myself, Cedric, Cath’s wife, and the owner, sitting in the now closed, dimly lit bar, drinking, talking, and listening to Tracy Chapman til 4:30 in the morning.

These are beautiful moments.

Though at times my life is sprinkled with a bit of this.

When I actually go to school I really enjoy it. My harmony teacher is really great and actually gave me a book and all the papers for the class. The composition teachers are a nice bunch, but I think I’m more on the same page as this one than the others. He’s going to look at my work in two weeks.
Being in composition class here and finishing up The Rest is Noise (one of the best books I’ve ever read. Thank you Sage) has really got me thinking about the composers role in the 21st century. Pretentious, I know, but I’ll try to articulate it here later. For now I’ll just continue to ramble on about it in my mediocre French to Cedric while he makes me coffee.

oh and if you were still wondering. No, I did not wake up in time to accompany that soldier on his beer journey.

We Are After All Here

I’m determined to learn how to process the happenings in my life without the end result of a mental breakdown… which, in the past, is what usually occurs…about once a month or so. I’ve decided to step back a bit. I’m so overstimulated that it’s been impossible for me to focus on what I need to be doing. This sort of eclecticism I’m entangled in looks fantastic on a college application, but in reality it’s a pain in my ass.

Kassie’s Mind:

- college
- money for college
- lack of class
- need piano
- need to compose
- wtf my embouchure
- French

Kassie’s Plan:

1. stay in the present
2. one thing at a time
3. a good woman to keep me grounded √
4.Buddhism
5. Belgian beer

oh and…on a sidenote:
Dear Reader,
I hope by now you can sufficiently understand my humor and identify it when necessary.
Sincerely Yours,
Kassie

I don’t really have any groundbreaking observations to put here for the moment. New Years in Brussels was…something. I’m not sure I’ve ever been awake for that long in my eighteen years of life.
Tomorrow, or someday soon I think I might go catch this movie at the local theater.
My relationship with the conservatory is advancing ever so slowly. Friday I’m hoping to find out more. Meanwhile, due to my lack of scholastic involvement is looking for another high school to enroll me in in addition to my classes at the conservatory. splendid.

p.s. got one of these

I Go Humble

1. write more music
2. stay in the present
3. procrastinate less
4. read more
5. actually study French
6. be myself
7. look like myself
8. learn more recipes
9. practice piano

I’m halfway there.


I Need a Girl Who Knows a Map

My girl is with me again. It hasn’t really hit me yet that we’re together…in the same country. What has hit me is the reality of my two lives. Once someone from my old world enters my new world here in Belgium it became apparent how not foreign this land is now. Now it’s me who’s figuring out the bus (for the most part), ordering food, and explaining dinner conversations. A lot has changed. A lot has been on my mind.
Adding to my heavy mind is my recent move from Chimay to Mons. I went from living in an 80 house village to living with a young lesbian couple over a gay bar (owned by one of my mothers) in the center of the city. yeah. How’s that for drastic? How’s that for perfect?It’s more like living with two big sisters actually (sometimes they forget to feed me and I can go a whole day without seeing either of them), but it gives me a lot of the freedom I’ve wanted for 4 months. I can come and go as I please, I can walk to the train station, I can walk to the music conservatory, there are plenty of other students in Mons,…my house is a bar.
So far my luck as a young lesbian has been good. I went to a performing arts high school with too many gays, have an open accepting family, have had an amazing girlfriend for almost a year and a half now, and you’re well aware of my living situation now. I’ve never felt something like I do now though. I’ve never been surrounded by so many GLBTs (save for NYC Pride) daily, as I am now. If my moms go out of town I have like 5 gay guys asking me if I’m doing ok, need anything, and when they’re coming back. I go down to the bar at 1am and talk with Cedric about gay rights and Miyazaki films. I’ve fallen into the middle of a gay community…my luck continues.
I hope I haven’t jinxed it.
What I’m trying to say with all of this is that I’m finding my life again, I’m finding myself. I’m in an environment that is so conducive for the change I’ve been going through. All of this is feeding into my thoughts on my voice, my character, my sexuality, my gender, my relationship, my future.
Speaking of my future…it’s uh, kind of official

She was accepted into NYU. I can’t let her live there alone can I?

Something To Do With My Hands

How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
I spent mine infiltrating the Conservatoire Royal de Mons.

Thursday morning I made the commute to Mons with JJ. We stopped at his office first for coffee and introductions. It reminded me of when I used to go to work with my dad when he worked at Moravian, except it’s in Europe and there’s better coffee. Now, I had originally planned to simply waltz right through the conservatory doors and demand to speak with someone about admissions. Then the possibility arose of the front gate being locked and me needing a appointment. JJ then called the secretary and got a list of professors and secretaries I should speak to. The first on the list was the secretary of the students (or something).
After I left JJ’s office I headed for the Grand Place to pick up my apparently not lost coat, and then continued to the conservatory.

It went like this.
First Line of Defense: French Speaking People and Floor levels

The secretary at the front desk was kind enough to inform me that the office I was looking for was located one the “deuxième étage”. Second floor right? I go up one flight of stairs and there it is right? wrong. What I had forgotten was our second floor is their first floor. minor setback.

Second Line of Defense: Office full of Middle-Aged Women/Disgruntled Admissions Man

Once I found myself in the right place and figured out how to open the most difficult wooden door ever, I entered the admissions office (or something). All the women stopped working, stared, and apparently my reputation precedes me, “oh, you’re the American”. Well…yes. They told me to wait outside the office for the Admissions Man, and then whispered amongst themselves. After a while, I entered the office and showed him the letter JJ had sent to the director. I explained how he had said that maybe we could find a solution for my late entrance. “No”. It’s not possible, it’s too late. He scrawled out the contact info of one of the composition professors and sent me on my way.

Third Line of Defense: The I’ve-been-smoking-for-47-years-this-job-is-ridiculous-curse-these-annoying-artsy-kids Secretary

It wasn’t ending like this.
I stopped at the Mons Tourism office, picked up a map, and made my way across town to the other building of the conservatory. There I met the above mentioned secretary who actually made some phone calls for me. Turns out, though, that neither of the composition professors were there today. She told me I should just call them sometime. yeah, thanks.

Time of Reflection/Excellent Eggplant Sandwich

…that’s it.

Savior in the Form of  a Bald Conductor

I tried calling one of the composition teachers. no dice. “fuck this, I’m going back”
I entered the red gate for the last time that day. This time the front desk secretary was a man. I asked him if any of the professors were in today and free. He said none of the composition teachers were available, but he looked at the rest of my list and, “oh but behind you, that’s Mr. Gazon”. I started to chat with the professor of orchestration (or something) and I explained my sitution.

Me: “I live in Chimay”
Him: “What’s going on in Chimay?”
Us: “…nothing!”

He told me he had a concert in the auditorium in a few minutes. He told me to come watch and then afterwards he would personally take me to speak with the director.
And that is how I ended my day listening to some free Mozart Piano Concertos and Scheduling a meeting with the director of the Conservatoire Royal de Mons. It was also the first time in months I heard someone utter the words “Steve Reich”, “John Adams”, “minimalism”. I wanted to kiss this man. but I didn’t.

In other news, I’m currently living over one of three gay bars in Mons. More on that later…much more.