Sunday, October 16, 2011

work, work, work--with a bit of fun every now and then

Brace yourself: this is a long post.

It seems like the stress comes in waves this year: I think I'm doing okay, getting stuff done, handing it in--and then all of a sudden I realize that this, this, and this are due on this day and this day, and there's still work to be done on the majority of those assignments. And all of a sudden I feel like I'm hydroplaning, spinning out of control. That's what the last few days have been like for me--which is really frustrating when you consider that my time-management skills were really good last year...

Monday (Thanksgiving): I spent most of the day doing homework, and enjoying my last full day at home. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday: Mom and I drove back to F'ton, and I spent the better part of the afternoon putting stuff away. I planned to do homework, but didn't get around to it.

Wednesday: Back to Earth with a bUmP. This week's Photoshop class was all about animation and video: we made a short video that was shot by Drew--there were several to choose from, shot in various locations in the school--appear as though it were playing on a TV. Although there were several TVs to choose from in the homework folder, I wanted to find a photo of a TV like the one that my family used to have. The TV was a Sony cathode-ray tube (CRT) TV, which Tom's parents bought in '68. It was then passed down to my parents, and we had it until a few years ago--I can't remember when that thing bit the dust (the screen started going wonky, though I can't remember what it did--I keep confusing it with the TV that we got afterwards, which didn't live long). After much googling, I finally found a photo on Flickr. I think the TV in the photo is a few years older or younger: the RGB icon is in a different place than it was on my family's TV, and I seem to remember that the bars in the speaker grille were horizontal rather than vertical. But it was close enough, so I used it.

The video that I chose was one that Drew shot last year in the Design Studio. There were a couple shot in that studio, and of course I had to choose the one that had one of my projects in it.

At noon, the Student Representative Council (SRC) had a meet-and-greet in the Design Studio. I went, and let's just say that this year's going to be the best year ever: while NBCCD is one of the best art schools in Canada, for as long as I've been a student here, it's kinda sucked in terms of events and a feeling of community outside your own studio. Which really sucks if you're an FVA student: since you haven't yet chosen a studio, you don't have anywhere in the school to call home. Also, this year there will be several student-run committees, and each studio will have two student representatives, and each FVA group will have one rep (I think--I don't think it's two). As someone who's wanted to get involved in making her school awesome, but who's never had any interest in running for SRC, I think this is the best thing since art school. Some of the committees are: yearbook (yes, really--we're finally going to have a yearbook again!), student life, events (which I signed up for), and orientation, which won't truly take effect until next September--but we need to start planning now.

Orientation is another thing that NBCCD has kind of sucked at: while it's great to spend Orientation Day with your academic adviser (yay Adam and Blue Group '09!), that one day is all you get. Up to now, NBCCD's attitude has been, "here's where everything is, here's your academic adviser, here's the registrar, here's Endeavours ArtStuff, here's Read's Newsstand, here's some barbecue--now get to class!" Which isn't the most welcoming experience. Yes, it's welcoming to an extent, but it pales in comparison to UNB's Orientation Week! UNB takes a whole week to not only show freshmen around the campus, but to host events to make them feel welcome in the university community. Corn boils, and Shinerama, and Movie on the Hill--oh, my!

Thursday: As I said last week, I wasn't "to show my face in class." I spent all day in the darkroom (minus a meeting with Trudy in the morning) overdosing on opera--if that's possible--and cranking out the photos. And singing along in Italiano e/et Français. By the time I was done, I was hungry, my legs were protesting, and I was physically exhausted: once I got started after downing a couple of muffins for breakfast (I sipped my coffee throughout the morning), I hadn't stopped for one second that day. But my work was done.

That evening was the official opening of the college's new expansion in the Barracks. So just before the festivities began at seven (six EDT), I walked across the courtyard from the main building to the Barracks. As I walked over, my excitement and happiness welled up inside me, and I swallowed back a couple of big sobs: the Barracks was thisclose to being officially complete, after two-and-a-bit school years. While the building isn't totally finished, it's finished enough that students who don't have classes there can go over--for example, if they need to check something out of the college's library, which has moved from the room across from the Design Studio to the Barracks--I think it's on the third floor.

As with any snazzy event, there were speeches: F'ton Mayor Brad Woodside and UNB Art Education prof (and Mom's and my friend) Mary Blatherwick being the most notable. There were one or two others, but I can't remember their names. Of course, NBCCD's principle, Michael Maynard, was there. Picaroons Traditional Ales sponsored the event, so that meant free beer--Picaroons Blonde Ale, to be exact, which is similar in taste to a Keith's India Pale Ale, but with a bit more oomph and complexity. The school usually prohibits alcohol on campus, so this was an exception.

When we'd had enough of the loudness and the crowd, Karen and I and a couple of other people explored the rest of the building.

The view from the upper deck (third floor) of the Barracks, shot the day after the opening.
The upper deck (third floor) of the Barracks, and NBCCD, shot the day after the opening.
The crowd and I finished the evening in the new library, browsing the shelves, and admiring the library's impressive collection of National Film Board of Canada (NFB) videos and DVDs. When it was across from the Design Studio, the college's library was full beyond capacity. In it's current incarnation the library is full, yes, but there's lots of space for more books, DVDs, journals and magazines. The librarian, Julie McDonald, was at the opening, and when we all headed up to the library, she did, too, and while everyone was browsing and talking, she walked in and sat down behind her desk. She looked totally at home in the new location.

I eventually went back to the main building via the gallery, which also had a show opening that evening. Since the darkroom hadn't been cleaned up, I took care of it: dumping the developer, pouring the stop bath back in it's jug, pouring the first fix (fresh) into a jug, dumping the second (used once before), and washing the plastic tubs and the tongs. After doing homework for an hour or so, I started thinking about going home. Karen stopped by the studio, and offered me a ride back to my place since she was headed home, too--and it was pouring outside. After I packed up and turned off the studio lights, I met Karen downstairs (she had to lock up the gallery) and she drove me home.

And in case you're wondering, I pulled a twelve-hour day that day. **whew!** There's a reason why I don't have a job during the school year: school is a full-time job in itself, and I do a lot of overtime as well. Only thing is, I don't get paid in money--I get paid in credits, which count towards my diploma, and eventually will count toward my BFA.

Friday: I was back at it again that afternoon, doing everything from printing off my ticket for the simulcast, to profiling the printer--though I want to do it again, because I used Enhanced Matte paper, and I usually use Premium Luster when I print my photos--finishing my Photoshop homework, paying back Peter (when I did my darkroom blitz on Thursday, I ran out of paper and borrowed some from Peter, with a promise to pay him back when I bought a new pack of paper), and working on the business plan.

Saturday (Simulcast Day): I didn't get any homework done. Instead, I wrote part of this blog post (which I started on Friday, BTW), and got ready for the opera.

And this time I was actually well-rested: the night before both Turandot ('09) and Das Rheingold ('10), I was so excited that I barely slept the night before the opera. It might have had to do with the fact that I was completely exhausted after Friday's excitement.

This was my first time attending a performance with a friend: Liz, who is a fellow Met fan. This was her first simulcast, and I think she's hooked now.

We met up at the bus stop a few minutes from my place. I was way early, but after waiting for what felt like forever (excitement does that), I saw someone who looked like Liz coming from the direction of UNB. I didn't want to get excited, just in case it wasn't her, but as she got closer, I saw that it was her, and I started running towards her. She started running to me, and we almost crashed into each other, which turned into a gigantic hug. We chatted and filled each other in on our lives as we waited.

The buses in F'ton are fairly reliable: if they say that they're going to be at one of the bus stops at 12:15, they mean 12:15--not 12:14, not 12:16. So it surprised both of us when the bus was early. And because we were in the convenience store across from the bus stop at the time, it sped by without stopping. We both tore out of the store and ran for the next stop, but it was too late. There went the bus up the hill to the UNB campus--without us. So Liz called a cab, and we talked some more as we waited--again. Finally, the cab arrived and in a few minutes we were pulling up to the food court entrance of the Regent Mall.

Since we were going to an Italian opera, we both opted for Italian food. And we chatted some more as we waited for our food, and then chatted some more as we ate lunch.

Afterward, we walked to the Chapters store across from the theatre and spent a few minutes there, and then went to the movie theatre. And yes, we chatted even more as we waited for the transmission to start.

This simulcast was almost flawless: there were a couple of blips, but nothing like the issues that I experienced at my first simulcast (Turandot). As to the production itself, I both liked and disliked it. The whole thing (sets, costumes) is very dark, plain and drab, with the exception of some of Anne Boleyn's costumes--one of which is a beautiful deep red, almost maroon--and while I understand why producer David McVicar, set designer Robert Jones, costume designer Jenny Tiramani, and lighting designer Paule Constable did it that way--to set the mood, and also to recreate what people wore back then (a lot of dark clothes)--the production came off as boring.

However, the music was anything but. The role of Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) is one of the most difficult and demanding soprano roles: it requires the singer to sing--or, in Anna Netrebko's words, "shout"--in the lower register "for half the opera. [Donezetti] wants that nasty, chesty voice--he wants it to sound uncomfortable!" Here's an example, as sung by Beverly Sills. Watch out for the lines "manca solo a compire / il delitto d'Anna il sangue / e vesato sara," which Anna (the soprano) refers to in the article.

This performance was the first simulcast in Anna's home country of Russia.

And it was sold out at the opera house.

After the performance, Liz and I consulted the bus schedule and groaned about the fact that the next bus wouldn't arrive for over an hour. So since Liz's dad was in town for a conference, she called him for a ride and we got a ride back to our respective dorm/apartment, and I spent the rest of the evening writing this post in spurts.

This afternoon, after I take a shower, I'm going to the college to get some serious work done. I'm also going to skype with Mom and Tom at some point.

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