Because I’d rather explain how I came across the song in the last post because I’m feeling worlds of nostalgic right now and I let that song lull me to sleep last night/this morning so I’ve always loved classical music as most of you know I refer to Yo-Yo Ma as my uncle but maybe it was in the year 2000 I found out about a violinist named Hilary Hahn and a friend loaned me her first album where she plays solo Bach and it was amazing so then I decided to follow her career because she’s only three years younger than I and seemed to be a really good role model which is what I was looking for at that point in my life because I was returning to a proper course after having careened into some prodigal years and so there’s that and I respected Hilary’s patience with her career and her seeming deliberateness with choices she was making for her life in addition to her writing online and in her album jacket notes, and after buying her Bach album I found her Beethoven/Bernstein and then the Barber/Meyer CD came out and I read in the jacket notes that a double-bassist/composer named Edgar Meyer commissioned Hilary for that concerto and so I wondered who Edgar Meyer is and I started looking up things about him because after listening to the concerto I was more or less blown away. Double basses are flippin huge. I also found out about a collaborative album (in the course of researching chamber music with Richard Stoltzman or Sabine Meyer, Emmanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma because I was also trying to improve my clarinet playing by listening to awesome clarinet music) called Appalachian Journey that involves Mr. Ma, Edgar Meyer, and violinist/fiddler Mark O’Connor, which features vocalists like James Taylor and Alison Krauss and the idea of hybridizing bluegrass and chamber music fascinated me because I really truly appreciate talent no matter where it is and I also adore James Taylor and Alison Krauss because they can both respectively guitar and fiddle as well as stir nostalgia through their voices and this album does not disappoint because nostalgia crept up on me last night and made me look for that Stephen Foster to share with you and it was hard to let myself fall asleep to that song because I enjoyed watching the performance, the communication between the musicians, the eye contact and other cues to let different instruments stand out whenever Alison wasn’t singing, the way Alison looks at the instrumentalists through the final chord and her smile when it ends, and then the perfect stillness between the last note and applause just makes me so happy and so maybe I watched the video three or maybe four times before I lay down and closed my eyes while the song played again and this morning, although my eyes are really dry and I can’t quite remember (much less explain) all of a dream I had where I was crowd-surfing in my high school bleachers in a sports bra and underwear and then there was my marching band self watching very nervously my nearly-naked self hoping that nobody else was watching her, I feel pretty good.
I’m looking out my bedroom window, and a mountain is looking back at me. It’s green and rugged and I’m in a valley, and I’m not very green anymore, though maybe I’m still a bit rugged. I’d hardly call myself refined.
So, there were pioneers. Many of my friends have ancestors who crossed the plains in crazy weather conditions and under the order of God’s prophet, in addition to being run out of the Midwest by state governments.
And they settled in Utah.
This is the place.
Apparently some of my dad’s relatives came on that trek, I think. I would need for him to retell the story. He was born in Salt Lake City. His parents were LDS, and he has a stepmother who’s a member of the Reorganized LDS church.
My mother was born and raised Catholic, in the Philippines.
I was born in the Philippines, and my birth certificate says I have a Catholic mother from the Philippines and a Mormon father from Salt Lake City.
I talked aloud to one person today, my roommate. I told her I wouldn’t be going to church, so she didn’t have to worry about giving me a ride. Then I read and slept. And read and slept.
There are people in Africa who populate remote areas of continent. Why do they roam, where do they wander, and how do they decide to settle in certain areas?
And, why are other people stuck? Is it a matter of pride? Survival? Circumstance?
What are frontiers, anyway? What goes unexplored in realms physical and metaphysical?
Now, I’m thinking about Norway.
How do we understand what and where people are trying to explore?
Who are the pioneers, anyway? Do we always agree with or understand what they discover?
“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”
–Prospero, The Tempest
So, the Shakespeare Festival was fun. The play was quite good, and I’ll probably not write a lot about it. It pleased and amused me. The drive was exhilarating and I sang along to my iPod, and the roadwork along I-15 didn’t even annoy me.
Click on the rodent to see what I did after the festival:
Or, check out the slideshow.
I tried to decide whether I would have enough time to do some exploring, since I was already in southern Utah, and since it’s the summertime, and I was feeling rather energetic today. Still. The play finished around 4:45, and it would take about three hours to go home, and I needed to finish a paper for class and clean my apartment for cleaning checks tomorrow.
Cedar Breaks National Monument wasn’t even 30 miles away. I headed east on Center Street in Cedar City and the let the winding roads take me into the sky. Occasionally as I climbed, I would look at the valley expand below me and the height triggered my acrophobia, so I would try to refocus on the road. But then I’d always look back at the valley. I liked the thrill.
You guys, Utah is so beautiful. Today was one of those rare days I wish I had a car just so that I could bounce around the state and feel (especially) small against this great big magnificent world. A surreal backdrop on the grandest stage. Floating in a false consciousness.
And then there’s the price of gas.
Today was absolutely worth it, though.
Tuesday, May 3. We sit in a dark classroom of the CAEC in Dakar and listen to a lecture about the geopolitical history of Senegal. The chairs are uncomfortable and there are no desks. I can’t touch the floor when I sit in the chair, and my notebook slants away from me when it’s on my lap. I cross my left leg over the right and take notes until one of my legs goes numb. Then I try sitting cross-legged to stretch, then that also becomes uncomfortable, and I’m trying to focus but I’m only catching every other word yet I’m grateful Madame is writing notes on the board that everyone can follow. Senegal has a strategic location; they are known for their Teranga, or hospitality. The main rivers are the Senegal, Sine and Saloum; the mouth of the Senegal joins with the Atlantic Ocean.
I try to pretend that I’m floating.
Maybe the lecture goes on for another hour; maybe days. I prop my feet up on the back edge of the seat in front me, careful not to touch its occupant’s rear end. Using this slant, I can take notes more easily.
Sometimes the French sounds like noise, but I learn that other languages in Senegal are Arabic, Peule, Wolof, Serer, Madinka, and Soninke. The Isle of Gorée was a center of slave trade. I wonder if the rest of the trip is going to be like this. Will we have classes every day, will it always be this dark and hard to understand. Silly symbolisms bounce around in my brain.
After a couple of hours or a thousand, the lecture wraps up. I notice that Madame Aminata Sow Fall has entered the classroom, and an assistant starts to bring in stacks of her novels for sale. She writes about the rights of women and the potential of African countries to become self-sustaining. She moves forward in a country that halfheartedly attempts to unmire itself from certain traditions. She is highly esteemed and well-respected in the francophone world. An idea strikes me.
The lecture is over and the students begin leaving the classroom to stand in the sun. I reach into my backpack and pull out a copy of Douceurs du bercail and then a black Sharpie marker. I rehearsed the French in my brain while waiting for a free moment with Madame Sow.
In Senegal, the married name immediately follows the given name, and the maiden name moves to the end.
She walks toward the back of the classroom. With a book in one hand and a marker in the other, I stand up and approach her.
Excusez-moi de vous deranger …
It’s no trouble at all she says, all Frenchlike.
Est-ce je peux avoir votre autographe?
It would be my pleasure.
I hand her the book and the marker, because I thought she would write on the inside cover, but instead she asks for a pen and tells me the marker would bleed through the page.
She asks my name, and I tell her. She inscribes, “To May, With all my affection.” Then she signs and dates it.
I thank her, and I walk out of the classroom. My feet still don’t touch the ground, but I love this sensation.
For the next two weeks (but really four), I say nothing in class. I’m shy and self-conscious, I listen and the African-effected French becomes a little easier to understand. The role of women in modern society. Polygamy and the role of family. The education system. The future of Senegal.
At the CIRLAC in Saint-Louis, Madame gathers us to take yet another photo de famille. Madame Fall passes by me, she mispronounces my name (like “my”), but I give her the benefit of the doubt because I have been silent and avoiding attention, plus she meets and knows so many people. I smile and say bonjour, and she continues to walk and shake other students’ hands. Then she returns to me and pronounces my name correctly and tells me that one of her granddaughters has a name of the former pronunciation. At this point my brain freezes the way it does when intimidating people talk to me, but I’m also absolutely elated, so I manage to squeak out something like “that’s very interesting” or “how cute” but all I really remember is that she remembered my name.
And that she might have my Sharpie.
– I need a boyfriend.
– The symbolism of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and the circumstances around which the Lord covenanted with Abraham. This just happens to be what we are probably discussing in Sunday School.
– My weight in Provo compared to sea level and the summit of Mt. Everest. They say being at the top of the world’s highest mountain wouldn’t alter one’s weight very much, just a decrease of 0.28%. That’s less than a quarter pound for me. So my weight in Happy Valley is even closer to true. Hmm.
– A pretty massive headache.
I’ve had a pretty decent week, full of lots of writing and reading, preparing for midterms, time with friends.
I took a few more pictures. I should post those.
Later, though. I have to get ready for church.
my knees ache
it seizes my body
furrows my brows
i’m not giving birth
not even close
but the strongest reminder
that with every month
passes another chance
to do so.
I had fun tonight at Central Park Summerstage.
Some good friends picnicked with me while Josh Ritter serenaded us.
He had some pretty great guests artists appear
I won’t write too much more right now.
Release pressure slowly
Do not expose to flame.