misted, ebullient

and stuff!

okay, let's see. i'm dating someone. yeah, i said it. and when are these things ever not complex? and who knows, and who knows, i don't have a lot that i want to say about it here/now; i'm just leaving a small footprint to mark a turned corner.

i've been asked by my professor (who is also my de facto second advisor) to organize, along with a few of my colleagues, a workshop to be held in the spring. this is pretty exciting for me, both because i think it will be an incredibly interesting and successful event, and because being asked to organize it makes me feel that in some little way...i have arrived.


on belonging

the talk went well.
okay, the talk went really well. :)

i got a number of kind compliments afterwards, i wanted to tell them all it was my first conference talk ever but i didn't. a smiling "thank you so much" is the right answer. people want us to help them do what we're doing. sometimes i forget to remember that i'm part of something pretty cool...most of the coolness has nothing to do with my contribution but that's okay. i'll take the proximity.

i discovered that when you know you've given a good talk you get this warm radiating feeling, like everything is good and like you belong, like you deserve. before the talk i kept repeating my little mantras (taken from the advice of others) and sneaking looks at the affiliation listed on my nametag saying to myself "you belong here." not until after did i start to actually feel it.

the weird thing about all of this is you only get to enjoy achievements for about two seconds before the next impossible challenge looms and makes you doubt yourself all over again. so i guess i will just enjoy this while it lasts.


at-'niwhong wh'awhde

i'm in the desert.

specifically, i'm at a navajo tribal college in arizona. i'm here to present my dictionary project at a conference.

the thing about deserts is: they're hot. and dry. i feel like today has been an endless loop of applying sunscreen, finding my sun hat, drinking water, refilling water, ad infinitum. the weather is making me tired and a bit cranky. the latter no doubt exacerbated by the fact that i haven't finished my talk yet. ah well, others are still working on theirs too, so i'm not alone in my lameness at least.

i've eaten two hot dogs and two meals containing ground beef.

my talk is saturday morning and mostly i'm just looking forward to being done with it. what i'm really looking forward to is sunday, when we tour the south rim of canyon de chelly.

monday: home.


green like july

there is a mix cd i made nearly three years ago, it's called "green like july". i think it's pretty good, but then everyone thinks they have great taste in music. i gave it to a friend for her birthday, but in reality i was making it to listen to on a roadtrip up the coast to mendocino.

i rediscovered it the other night, flipping through a stack of CDRs and today i brought it along on another drive north. it was so great to hear it again, and not just because there was someone in the car who knows and loves almost all of the songs (thus proving that i really DO have great taste in music, obviously). it was a nice window on a former self.

i feel strangely softly nostalgic but i'm not sure why. it's not missing anything or anyone, or even any me. maybe it's just an awareness of time passing, such a blessing and a curse for us mere mortals.

I grow old... I grow old...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.



occupancy, occupation

the former housemates took me out to dinner last night. it was actually nice, though i got stuck sitting next to the one i am most uncomfortable with right now. but they were all very sweet and they gave me a framed photo of the seven of us on our camping trip, and an invitation to a birthday party. it was great to be around them again, they're so smart and funny and crazy and cool...and then it was great to go home.

home home home! where things are pretty and peaceful and getting settled. i'm unpacked enough that the still-packed boxes all fit in one closet, and so it looks like i'm totally done. though what's still packed is all my books and games and other homey things, so i feel their absence a bit. but...in time, time and time. today i made more cold mint tea with agave nectar, and hard-boiled eggs. i'm relishing the space, the fact that when i put something somewhere it stays there until i go back to it, the fact that my own stuff is everywhere, and the fact that i can go to the bathroom at night without putting on pants.

i'm not relishing how my neighbor is playing the most awful music in the world pretty loudly right now.

today i'm working on my talk. did i tell you i'm giving a talk at a conference in arizona? yeah, a week from today.



tomorrow we're heading down the coast for a meeting, so today is our last day of fieldwork. i'm running the elicitation this afternoon and it's a little sad. i'll miss verdena. i'll even miss staying in this weird little house crammed with random stuff, old furniture and exercise equipment piled here and there. it's a little more chaotic than is my preference, but it's been a nice stay and i will remember it warmly. i don't know why i'm getting so sappy about it, i'll be back in august. it's just my nature, i guess.

while i was here i was able to zoom out and remember that there are sometimes bigger worries than whether i make the perfect amount of progress on whichever project is currently stressing me out. even just functioning in this world can be an exercise in letting go of control, of order. particularly i noticed this on the reservation. things happened when and how they were going to happen. people didn't make calls and schedules and set meetings. if we bumped into people on the street, verdena would stop and visit. but we didn't seek them out and they didn't seek us out.

now i feel calm and open. and like i will miss being here a little but where i really want to be now is home. and i will look forward to returning.

so while i didn't get as much done as i wanted, somehow this feels like the best of all possible outcomes.


monday: fry bread and cherries

still can't get my brain around my own project, the germany project. but made significant progress on the dictionary today, which is good. i think of that teacher on the reservation saying "what do i need? um, where do i start. i need everything." and i know this will help those kids at least a little. so it's good.

worked hard today, then napped hard. woke up from the nap at 7p, verdena brought us some indian fry bread she'd just made, and then we all went for a walk down the road. we walked past a cherry orchard and on the way back we stopped and filled up big sacks of cherries (with the owner's permission). have you ever eaten a cherry right off the tree? i've eaten at some crazy good restaurants, and i'm not sure they can produce anything that can compare to plucking a perfectly ripe cherry and popping it right in your mouth and spitting the seed out onto the ground. actually, "we" didn't fill the sacks, the others did while i walked along picking the best ones (L & i: "we're cherry-picking cherries", fun with noun incorporation!) and eating them and kept eating them until we got to the end of the row and went home. now we have a big bowl of them which i had to move away from me because otherwise i will eat cherries until i have a stomachache.


good people

my fieldwork partner and i have settled into an easy symbiosis. it's always weird for me to do trips where i spend all day, every day, with a person or people. i spend a good amount of time on my own at home, and i enjoy that. but if it's gotta be someone, L is a really good choice. interactions with her are marked by mutual consideration. interesting conversation mixed with comfortable silences. similar styles of communication and senses of humor. in one narrow way, she reminds me of j when these spontaneous bursts of expression just explode out of her sometimes. i say "oh remember when verdena said..." and she smiles huge and says "ahhhh, that was GREAT!" and punctuates it with a joyful motion of the arms. very j-like.

she just elicited the word for 'circumcised penis' and rolled it out with an easy joke.

L is good people.



back in oregon. the next three days will be all language work, all the time. then to a meeting of people working on north coast languages. then home. home! and then i will avoid cars as much as is humanly possible. in the last four days i've spent easily 24 hours in a car. and 10-12 more lie between here and home, but let's not talk about that now.

let's talk about verdena, my language consultant. because in the last two days i think i learned what it means to be an elder. i already knew i liked her, knew i could even come to love her as i get to know her better. at 71, her eyes sparkle and she has this mischievous grin that just kills me. and the way she chuckles when she knows she's said something naughty. she tells us stories of when she was a girl and she could beat up any boy, she would throw cow pies on them, she would ride around the reservation on her motorcycle and then put on her fancy white pinstripe suit and pillbox hat with a little veil and strut her stuff into town. the girl had more marriage proposals than she knew what to do with. this is a woman who is, and has always been, full of life, fire, color. just totally vital.

on our trip to the reservation, though, i saw more of how she is in groups of people. she sits quietly and you never know if that's because she can't hear you (she is hard of hearing, especially when there is ambient noise) or just because she doesn't feel like saying anything yet. but then suddenly she'll just start talking, in a very low voice. and everyone falls silent, everyone leans in and strains to hear her every word and nobody speaks until she is done. this woman holds so much knowledge, she has an incredible memory for detail, and something about her presence just commands quiet respect. she doesn't sit there and spout proverbs or platitudes; hers is a deeper wisdom.

but still, when i think of verdena, i mostly just see her laughing.
and i think i'm so lucky that this is the side of her that i get to know.


on meaning and motivation

today we went into the reservation and saw the tribal museum, then toured the ceremonial grounds and saw the site of the village where our consultant grew up. L and i sat in on three language classes at the high school. it was amazing and a little overwhelming, and a little discouraging. this language is going to die, we can't stop it. nobody can stop it. the classes won't really help; some kids will learn some words, later they will probably forget them, and people will grow up and move on and everything will be lost. this is not pessimism, this is realism.

so where is the meaning in my work? certainly it is personally rewarding, on an intellectual and experiential level. but this program leaves no space for fun challenges, everything must have a point. must have a logical conclusion. so do i move forward, flattering myself that i am preserving something of human knowledge, something valuable? do i adopt a view of myself as some savior of culture? i'm no savior, not of culture, not of anything. or do i approach it as a puzzle box to be unlocked and once it's open i walk away? that doesn't feel quite right either.

i suppose i just disengage from questions of meaning and do the work. and help the community when i can. neither savior nor ivory tower scholar, but something in the middle. something sustainable. it's interesting to me that i chose to involve myself in an impossible task. i, who needs to see myself as capable of anything.


happy oregon morning

when we pulled into the driveway of our Hupa speaker's home yesterday, dinner was on. beef in red sauce. as neither L nor i eat meat at home, this part of the experience is always a little challenging. this is a logging town, the men in the family are logging men, and it's pretty much always meat and potatoes. it's so kind and wonderful of them to feed us, but we are used to eating other things.

we're staying in the guest house, where we have a freezer (but no fridge, but they gave us a cooler), a sink, and a stove. so this morning we ventured out to find a grocery store. on the way there i noticed a tiny little place with a greenhouse in the front...harvest something...organic food co-op! no way! the guy there was hilarious, total hippie, had just been awakened by a delivery truck so even though the store was closed, he let us in. "what time are you supposed to open?" i said. "whenever you guys get here," said he.

breakfast is organic yogurt with gingersnap granola and fair trade bananas. organic brazilian coffee with rice milk. peaches that are so ripe they feel like they want to burst open when you touch them. lunch will be almond butter sandwiches on seeded bread.



ten thousand lakes? more like ten thousand times awesome!

bloopy accused me of commenting on his blog under an assumed name in order to defend the great state of minnesota. this is my response.


okay. if that WAS me, and i'm not saying it was, i would by default be right because i am in college.

that said, here is a very tiny sampling of the good stuff that minnesota (NOT missouri) has brought into the lives of all:
1. bob dylan
2. the replacements
3. husker du
4. prince (yeah i said it)
5. spam (i don't partake, but it has a certain aesthetic appeal)
6. paul bunyan
7. and babe, his blue ox
8. the world's largest ball of twine (darwin, MN)
9. a prairie home companion
10. possibly the only state governor more ridiculous than the governator (former gov. jesse "the body" ventura)
11. ME!

see, i didn't even have to think about it at all, and this list goes to 11.
now what did missouri ever do for you, huh?



spare change

in the house i live in today, the laundry machines are free. in the apartment i will be living in two days from now, the laundry machines demand coins before they will agree to wash and dry your clothes. one thing i really hate is running out of quarters just when you need to do laundry. for some reason, it's terribly stressful for me, and i will spend all day playing messages in my head over and over and over and over about not forgetting to get quarters, where will i get quarters, sometimes people don't like it if you ask for quarters, don't forget to get quarters, need to do laundry, need quarters, blah blah blah omg. there is enough stress in my life without worrying about quarters!

so yesterday i walked into my bank and walked up to the teller guy, whipped out my atm card, and said "i'd like ten rolls of quarters, please."

he eyed me suspiciously. "ten. you want ten rolls of quarters. TEN. a hundred dollars in quarters?? well...i'll have to get them for you. they're gonna be heavy, you know." the whole time, he never did crack even the littlest smile, he just kept saying "you want a hundred dollars...in quarters" over and over. whatever dude, why you gotta judge?

in the midst of moving chaos, i am comforted and cheered by the thought of my quarter stash.


people try and hide the light underneath the covers

in my greedy little paws i have two! free! tickets! to the arcade fire show tonight at the greek theater. (huge thanks, dre!) i guess every suckass week has a silver lining. so instead of studying as planned i will be rocking my stupid heart out.

the antisymmetry is funny, in a way.

now here's the sun, it's alright!
now here's the moon, it's alright!
every time you close your eyes


i wish i had a leitmotif. but actually i would need two: a doomy one and a sprightly one. i wish i knew a famous composer but a cool one like stephen merritt, i would ask him to write me a leitmotif. no, two. two leitmotifs.

(kalo mina)