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TRANSLATION AND CONVERSION: A MEDITATION ON THE EVERYDAY
Below are MESSAGES SENT FROM around the world as part of the action called: 'CONVERSION.'
1:30 pm, a moment from your everyday: bundled up from head to toe. two pairs of socks, hiking boots, long underwear, jeans, long sleeve cotton shirt, with wool plaid long sleeve shirt, winter coat with synthetic fur trim, wool knit gloves, and the silliest hat I own (made by my sister some years ago); snow flakes falling, changing from fluffy widely spaced flakes to corn snow; little white balls, temperature 27 degrees F; Sounds of cars and trucks, and the grinding on pavement of the occasional plow. My car laying under a thick white blanket. Pushing a small electric snowblower, straining in the dense 12 inch depth. the snow is sluggishly thrown to the side. It is a comfortable clean and bright environment.
I've just made my coffee and am enjoying my favorite morning of the week, Sunday, knowing I will have to go work this afternoon in preparation for the upcoming week.
like counting drops of water in a downpour. looking back over 16 years of journeys in 3 countries, thailand, cambodia, and laos. now year 17 and 9th journey. all the lives i have crossed paths with and each it's own unique story, in december last year during the airport seizure i would sit outside on the street with off duty staff from hotel and drink beer with them. isan people. from places like mahasarakham, roi et, khon kaen,they form the spine of thailands labor force. everyday they arrive in the big city( bangkok) laborers, cooks,cleaners, prostitutes, bar workers. arriving with a dream of money like anywhere in the world. sitting there on the street while the country is in the world spotlight, my friends exhausted from long hours on their feet, day in, day out. they blast music from c.d. player in a beat up toyota, maw laam tunes, music of the northeast of thailand. isan. tossing back shots of lao kao and passing round dishes of spicy tom yam. on friday nite after the airport was taken i caught a cab out there to make some photographs and see whats up. dropped off in the concrete darkness near an access road. a norwegian correspondent waits for a lift in through the barricades. a car pulls up and we get in, off we go. a thai gal in the backseat with her infant lets out a big laugh . if it ain't fun, the thai ain't interested. thats called sanuk. the airport glows sci-fi in the blackness of the city's outskirts. we are let off just past the barricades, and walk up along the raised concrete highway. a place not made for walking, made for cars. the main roads/entry ways are filled with the parked cars of the middle class of bangkok. an airport seizure with a literacy rate to boot. outside and inside it's one big campsite, music blasting from a stage setup on the sidewalk, streetside woks with stir fry to go, souveniers, a full on pharmacy inside the terminal. people gathered around laptops watching the feed from don meuang airport which had also been taken. mountains of bottled water and energy drinks. no alcohol visible and smoking only at curbside please. one sign reads: "we are sorry for the inconvenience, but we must bring down the pm". that first visit on friday nite they really thought that there might be an assault from security forces, but people were saying just let it happen. as i walked out on the concrete highway to catch a ride back into the city a young laotian guy joined me to escort me through the barricades. he showed me his slingshot. i mean really. we looked out into the night as the red lights of police cars blinked off on the perimeter and i thought that if they do move on this place tonite it will be hard to get out of the way. by the following morning it was clear that they were getting a constant flow of supplies and there would eventually be a settlement. the thai have a certain way about them that no one else has, and it is built around buddhism, a determined sense of self ( thainess) and the fact that you have to have fun( sanuk). things are slowing down more now as the hot season arrives, more factories close, and the few tourists that are left begin to move on. it will be a long year of slow money and for many countries i think they could learn a little from the people here in the sense of what to do and how to get by. with a smile. sanuk. best from chiang mai
11:16 pm-Live Events, Toledo Ohio
Today our friend, Bie, came over for a birthday dinner. Lucio made his delicious Lasagna. Felica, age three, was not eating. When I asked her why she wasn’t eating, she said, “I’m not hungry for lasagna. My kind of hungry is CAKE.” She then was quite upset that we didn’t have anything wrapped for Bie’s birthday presents. We started naming random things (of hers) she could give him... Sad baby (doll) - she said no because she sleeps with her, Ciccio Bello (doll) - no, he’s Italian, she cut us off there, saying she needs her dolls, but that he could have her barbie scooter and take it to Korea where he could ride it all around.
Carl Sagan¹s "Cosmic Calendar", where every billion years of life
corresponds to about twenty-four days of the calendar.
It is disconcerting to find that in such a cosmic year the Earth does not
condense out of interstellar matter until early September, dinosaurs emerge
on Christmas Eve; flowers arise on December 28th; and men and women
originate at 10:30 P.M on New Year's Eve. All of recorded history occupies
the last ten seconds of December 31; and the time from the waning of the
Middle Ages to the present occupies little more than one second.
Naviya is about to practice her violin! Bluegrass country and the stuff for the group lesson!! -March 3, 2009 8:20 our time.
Life is life. What happens, happens. After it happens there is no going back and totally undoing it. So, get used to it. Fix what you can, and what you can't fix, just leave it. Enjoy what you have. Live your life to the best you can. Solve your problems and enjoy the most you can out of the life you want. Take life how YOU want it. -Navsters
5:27 pm-blues today
"Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly." -Alan Lightman
So, time is funny. Fluid. Today we stood in front of Carrie Mae Weems' tryptich, "Grabbin, Snatchin, Blink and You Be Gone"... The students in the seminar had read Morrison's, "Site of Memory" and Wideman's, "Singing Sankofa". We talked a great deal about the very particular "Blues" as process that emerges from unspeakable histories... We talked about the descendants of those who "chose to survive", and we talked about ongoing struggles to transform painful legacies into something of beauty... 'Round four, I'm sitting back at the computer (having just scheduled lunch with a poet for next Wedn. after office hours), and the phone rings. It is Prospect Elementary, and the sitter that was scheduled to pick up Nyima after school still has not arrived. Turns out that she lost track of time-out for a walk on a beautiful day.
When my daughter and I arrived home from a long day of work and driving, my husband had built a fire in our fireplace. I made a light dinner that we ate in front of the fire, then I dozed while he and my son played Scrabble. Occasionally I popped up my head to give unsolicited advice on word choices. It was blissful and quiet and good to be that way together, for just those moment.
This morning I woke up late in a wooden room in a small river village called Pont-Aven in Bretagne, France. Last night while walking home, I understood birds for the first time. They are not background noise. They are a central part of the sky.
Birds are a bridge between dusk and dawn. They speak to each other and conduct our days. You hear their symphony only in rural areas
and only when you wake up earlier than you normally do. Or when you stay up late and don’t walk home until 6:30 am.
Dogs rule the day.
Owls are bridges between cats and birds.
They have moons for eyes and know everything.
I lay down on grass and closed my eyes. It took me 21 and a half years to understand birds? I wish I grew up in an American Indian community in the southwest. Guess I’ve got to start learning the power of animals now, as I am and where I have always come from.
I got inside to this little French house I’ve been living in and there was a cold silence.
We put up too many walls.
The walls are too thick.
2:45- Shabbat as quotidian
The Sabbath - TODAY - may be the ultimate quotidian expression in the fullness of time.
Abraham Heschel says: "(The Sabbath) is a day of the soul as well as of the body; comfort and pleasure are an integral part of the Sabbath observance." When the quotidian becomes fully integrated into a realized whole, the fullness of time is achieved.
The world of Shabbat - a world of rest, joy and holiness - then becomes in time, the "ordinary". It is the ultimate resting place called "home," for on the Seventh Day (of Creation) all that was and is and is to come was anticipated; it is to be the time of 'menuha' - of tranquility.
Shabbat is quotidian because it is God's time; it is part of the language of Creation becoming. It comprises a narrative of 'ordinary' fullness. It is that which brings the world into existence over and over and over. It is a moment never lost. It is a moment whose 'time' is both a witness and a hymn to God's abiding with us.
Again, Heschel: "On the Sabbath it is given us to share in the holiness that is the heart of time.... Eternity utters a day.
I knit during class and turned the heel of my sock
1:05 pm-Conversion:The Book of Hours
Moon seems so close. Policemen handcuffed two young girls today, right beside me. We were sitting at the Harvard circle. One started weeping, other was tough. I wondered which one would I be and realized already had a tear in my eye. I looked away, thought other things. Thought about Arthur Rimbaud, whom I was reading at that very second. Perhaps order wasn’t a big deal at his time; no cops hovering over public spaces looking for “high” poets? Perhaps he was "white" enough to get over with things. These girls weren’t
It is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing cold here.
Hi mommy whats up. Guess what baby mavis was born on Sunday !!!!!!!!!!!!All is well with him he has a doc. appointment today. All is well here to. I hope you bring back earings or something !!! Oh and Anshanique got her ears parsed today !!!!!! miss you
love your biggest fan
1:19am-Lost, synchron,y and tsieh
Ss, mr, gl, mr, bh, ne, mas,
It is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing cold here.
1:19am-Lost, synchron,y and tsieh
Ss, mr, gl, mr, bh, ne, mas,
1:42am-winter in chiang mai
early morning the first sounds at dawn, the roosters and dogs. far off the rush hour begins on the ring road and super highway. monks chanting at nearby pagoda. wood smoke in the air from cooking fires of charcoal, in small clay pots or open grills. rice boiling, tea brewed. chiang mai awakes again in the haze of the dry season, with smoke filling the mountain valley from distant fires in the countryside and across the border in burma. centuries of burning the fields this time of year. before, people crisscrossed the north in ox carts, by horse or elephant. now its the honda dream 125cc step thru thats the workhorse of transport. china awaits the building of a bridge across the mekong from laos, the road is already there, coming straight down from yunnan. more concrete and more pavement. already the provinces here are littered with abandoned concrete structures, casualties of the 97 crash. much talk of new alliances and regional cooperation as the container ships crossing the oceans dwindle. last nites chit chat at local bar centered around the italian who's head was found hanging from a rope below a bridge in bangkok last week. official story is self inflicted and the body came away from the neck through the force of the drop from bridge. okay. of course everyone agreed it was not good pr to have a picture of that splashed across the front pages, not good for business. looking back to nov 08 and the airport seizure, well that was not good for business as well, but memories these days are short and getting shorter, if many people even have one at all anymore. the thai get by, times are tough and people share. the farms are right outside town and the food is cheap. you need a motobike, just ask. walking back home on sunday, i hear a beep, and look to see uang on her honda dream. "dan glap baan mai?" i get a lift to the house. uang rarely smiles but when she does its the real thing. best from chiang mai.
I've made the coffee and am going through this morning's emails. There is snow, but not too much. So many errands to do today, a big list. My cat keeps wanting to go outside and I am trying to convince her that it is FREEEEEZING, just to trust me on this one. But she does not listen and keeps meowing at the door.
The alarm goes off and I look up to my beautiful baby girl smiling at me, reaching for me. It is the most heart felt feeling I have each morning. Love of children is amazing.
Every morning I reluctantly make my way out of bed. I have to have a little routine in the morning so that I can go through the motions without too much thought. I take the red teapot off the stove and head to the sink to fill it with water. As the water is heating up I clean out the French Press from the morning before and refill it with coffee grounds. I then head over to the computer to check out my horoscope or e-mail or both. At some point the teapot starts whistling and I make my coffee. With coffee in hand I head back to the computer to wake up. Usually my time staring at the screen is limited to about 10 minutes or so. Once the coffee starts to kick in then I realize I am hungry and start making breakfast and getting ready for the day.
The dog barks at the letter carrier. I wait several minutes, then I open the front door and take the mail out of the box to the side of my front door. I come back into the hallway, and sort the mail into three piles: the one for my husband I place on a small table; the one for me I open; and the third is junk mail that goes into the recycling basket next to the table. I open my mail and sort it into three piles: one is for bills or other items that I will have to see to; one is for cards, letters and magazines that I will read; and the third is junk that I also place into the recycling. I put the mail that I am keeping on the counter in the kitchen.
1:29pm-Thoughts from a recent visit to India
Sitting on the patio having breakfast, listening to the constant, distant horns of the autorikshaws in the heavy traffic on the airport road. Two fighter jets thunder directly overhead after taking off from the old commercial airport in Bangalore, as they do every morning. Wonder if they fly to Pakistan as a show of force, a deterrent. So many lives apparently disconnected, but somehow interdependent.
2:43 pm-‘double travels’
I'm writing to relay an ordinary turned extraordinary event from last Thursday. Boarding an airline in Lubbock, TX at 6:30 am. Drift off to sleep for a second, wake to the announcement that there is mechanical trouble with the door, everyone must get off the plane. After much chaos, rescheduling, and several hours later i have a new boarding pass and am getting on another plane in Lubbock. Someone else is sitting in seat 8A where i am supposed to go. I'm told to find any available seat and i do. Plane full, waiting for departure. Gate agent arrives and begins to walk the aisle checking names off a list. Working her way back slowly. She finds one person that is not supposed to be on the flight and escorts them off the plane. Returns and continues with the list. When she gets to me i say that i am supposed to be in seat 8A but someone was there. She takes my boarding pass, consults her list, then goes to seat in question, looks at his boarding pass, then picks up her radio and very loudly says "We have two Chris Taylor's on this plane." She leaves for a minute and then returns to take me off the plane and i'm directed to the next adjacent gate and another awaiting plane. The first plane departs and we follow shortly thereafter.
3:47pm-‘The Ordinary Events of My Day’
My everyday in the household is a sense of fragmentation between many tasks: the computer as the place I write and prepare for courses; e-mail as the space from which emerging tasks must be addressed as teacher, mother, professional; news websites as the sites for both assuaging and increasing my stress about economic and political issues in the world and my neighborhood, and their potential impact on my family and life. But there are other tasks as well: the energy and commitment it takes to being sure to listen and speak with my children, the stress of homework assistance and monitoring, and work of raising and preparing a teenager for an independent life. In the midst of all of this is also the kind of social loneliness attached to writing and research, working too much, and being geographically distant from extended family.
4:12 ‘Dispatches from Motherland’
Between work and more work I went to my twice weekly personal trainer
sessions necessitated by a new back injury. With back to back
appointments at work, I wrestled with canceling and/or rescheduling.
After feeling the tensions rising and forming a knot in my back
muscles, I opted to just lie back, shut my eyes and step out on faith
that everything would be fine. I arrive at every commitment slightly
late, but calm. In the end, I decided to keep my lunch meeting by
going to the restaurant alone, order lunch, and wait for the other
members of the party to arrive. Much to my surprise, this plan
worked! I met my professional obligations, ate a fine lunch, and
still had time for self care at the gym. After a great workout I
relaxed in the locker room, taking a moment to enjoy the stillness.
Today was a lesson in patience and faith. Although every day doesn't
work out quite as well, days like today remind me how control is so
very illusive, and that bending to accommodate challenges is a life
3:48-translation and conversion
washing sheets, drinking tea.
upon the cold, black bough beyond the glass, two tufts of lichen, delicate & suggestive, gather the mist that has not left all day.
i call my home 'cloud squat.' inside this house inside the cloud, inside my mouth, the faint, lingering sweetness of single bush dan cong from last winter. leaves not yet unfurled in the pot, a small, wet tangle.
the washer groans and beats sheets in an idea of lavender, while this one tree from a mountain somewhere in china gives up its ghost for me.
Morning in Cleveland, Ohio. Waking up. Taking the dogs out. Grabbing the newspapers. Making coffee. Checking email. Messages from Sarah. Connections to Istanbul from Nanette. Time - just barely - to meditate. Sun salutation. Take Maxie for walk on 15 degree morning. Eat. Shower. Dress. Off to work. All the time imagining Istanbul and Translation-Conversion. Sending love--
8:08 am-Art and Life
They continue apace in Oberlin.
Highlight: Mathis Szykowski reading from his memoir at Mind Fair makes me ever so poignantly aware of what a privileged life I/we have led. The book is a good read about a remarkable man who has lived through horrors we cannot imagine and moved on. Highlight: Benefit concert at First Church for our local branch of a homeless housing and feeding program called Project Promise. The music, for organ and brass featured the headliners of the Conservatory brass department and our star organist James David Christie. It was a spectacular success musically and otherwise, an opportunity to hear the kind of antiphonal brass with organ music that is often not performed live, and which is woefully ineffective on CD.
Highlight: Apollo Theatre under new management! A multi-theater firm is booking and staffing our small town movie house. Prices the same! New matinee offerings, not just for kids' shows. And Slumdog millionaire for starters! Bruhaha over the naming of the East College Street Project - City Council didn't like their proposed name and rejected it. The hole gets bigger and bigger and cement footings are being poured as they go. Amazing to watch it take shape as I walk by it 4 times a day walking to work.
Johnson Violin Studio has it's group lessons this Sunday - you will be en route home. We will miss you.
Naviya is doing a great job of promoting her mother's work and encouraging people to write. Hence the above!
8:12am-Conversion: The Book of Hours
I greet the day with my ritual cup of strong coffee before the house starts humming with activity. Water is boiled and 3 heaping teaspoons of freshly ground French Roast are put in the melita filter. I add just the right touch of milk and hope to sit down to read the paper and finish planning the day’s events over the elixir that jump starts my day. Soon this daily ritual is interrupted by the needs of the morning as the family starts to scramble to prepare to leave for work and school.
This morning I found Grace in a trap. I understand that if you trap them in a cage, that you have to bring them at least a mile from your home, or they will find their way back. I imagine that they would find their way into someone else's home. They must follow "the scent", meaning their own or another member of the species trail of poop and pee. I am trying to imagine the lines of the trails, the web of mouse highways running into people's homes and outbuildings. I imagine what that would look like on google earth. checkbox, toggle "mouseweb"
I got two more mice this morning. Both in tne kitchen, one under the sink and the other next to the dishwasher. i named the first one Peetie, and the second, the one under the sink, Jetpack. I set two more traps tonight.
Two more mice have been terminated. LuAnn and Ted. I am not sure I can deal with more losses.
Today our friend, Bie, came over for a birthday dinner. Lucio made his delicious Lasagna. Felica, age three, was not eating. When I asked her why she wasn’t eating, she said, “I’m not hungry for lasagna. My kind of hungry is CAKE.” .
She then was quite upset that we didn’t have anything wrapped for Bie’s birthday presents. We started naming random things (of hers) she could give him... Sad baby (doll) - she said no because she sleeps with her, Ciccio Bello (doll) - no, he’s Italian. she cut us off there, saying she needs her dolls, but that he could have her barbie scooter and take it to Korea where he could ride it all around.