01 July 2011

Old stuff

Mom and I were rooting through a box of my old playschool papers today, weeding out the boring items and assembling a stack of goodies. It appears I was an exuberant and preciously insane child. I drew pages upon pages full of hearts, interspersed with the odd trapezoid. Most animals I drew were given a crown and long, effeminate hair sticking out at a 45-degree angle to their bodies. Everything was fervently, heavily scribbled in purple, pink and blue crayon. I wrote a great many stories, and had elaborate apostrophes shaped like fishhooks.

Mom unearthed this dialogue from 1993:

Mom: There aren't any clean spoons. We'll have to do some dishes.
Me: A spoon is not a dish.
Mom: What's a dish?
Me: A dish is a condition.
Mom: What is a condition?
Me: A condition is a big song with dances with it. If you sing a song and do a dance with it, it's a condition.

Among the papers were some rudimentary, light-handed crayon drawings made by my best friend, Chris. His last name, which I've been trying to remember for years, was also there. Wonder if he remembers me...

18 May 2011

Green machines

I was at work in November in the Science Gallery during an exhibit on environmentally friendly contraptions, and a little girl in a splendid red raincoat came up to me. Pointing at our model of a newly designed rooftop wind turbine, she asked rather incredulously: "Excuse me, what is the purpose of the giant blender?"

It did indeed look like some sort of whisk. I was delighted with her curiosity and perceptiveness, and wished more of my customers asked such things.

Feet that need to rest and to dance

“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick ‘em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O’ my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off, and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ‘ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it, they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O’ my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it, and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver – love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.” 

- Toni Morrison, Beloved

27 April 2011

Good Friday

A man is coming out of the chapel in Trinity College, and spots a friend coming in the opposite direction. "Peter! Peace be with you."
-- "Ah, John! Happy No-Booze-Day."

25 March 2011

Why not?

The weather was perfect today. I felt like jumping and singing while walking from one end of college to the other. I did so. (Whenever I could do so without my lunacy becoming conspicuous.)

We are only two in our Second Language Acquisition course. We both like perfect weather, and agreeing that our professor probably did too, we asked to have our class outside. "Why not? Let's go to the Rose Garden." And so for an hour I sat in the fading but warm sun, learning about the shortcomings of the Critical Period Hypothesis, watching through my optimistically tinted lenses my professor's white hair becoming tousled by the wind against the cheery red backdrop of a prolifically flowering shrub. And this just after an hour of sipping a cappuccino and devouring a spicy salami and provolone panini on the grass, in the sunshine, in the company of my favorite Gearóid. And that after having the pleasure of meeting the lovely new lurb of my favorite Louise. And that after a brilliant, satisfying nap with the window open. Und es war gut.

Even AI seemed alright after the strong dose of fresh air. Good day.

Modal particle meets Sleepless in Seattle

...manchmal lohnt es sich nicht. Aber manchmal geht man trotz der großen Unsicherheit das Empire State Building hoch, ohne zu wissen, was man da erwarten sollte...und dann hat es sich allemal gelohnt.

Danke Christin, dass Du sogar in der viel zu frühen Übersetzungsstunde tolle Beispiele ausdenken kannst!

19 February 2011


(from 13 December 2009 - rediscovered)

I was excited to go to Strasbourg Saturday morning, but little did I know just how fun it would be. A small band of us instantly hit it off and spent the day acting blissfully idiotic in two different countries. We wandered the colorful, perhaps overly bustling Christkindlsmärik and the scarily upscale shopping streets, spending much of our time ogling the chocolates in the windows. Photos were both thoughtfully and thoughtlessly snapped, fingers were frozen, Kandinsky was discussed in very late French trains, and shrimp, wine and not-quite-right enchiladas were consumed at a lovely little hidden Spanish restaurant (Viva Zapata) back home in Saarbrücken. Orion, the Little Dipper and even Mars were spotted (as well as ice over the top of the permanent puddle!) on the rather extended 5-minute walk from the bus stop to Heim D and in the same space of time, impossible feats with a glowy whatsamajiggy on a rubber band were accomplished, in addition to several magnificent slips of the tongue. Jumby bunching, e.g.

There seems currently to be a rave taking place underneath my room. It's a small price to pay for such a fantastic day. I am almost disgustingly happy. This is exactly what college is supposed to be.


I have noticed recently that I am asked for directions very frequently, I suspect more frequently than most people. Perhaps I'm just not often in enough of a hurry to avoid these questions. In any case, one odd, brief dialogue gives a bit of insight into the way people think.

I was in Vienna, wandering around Neubau, looking at old Leica cameras in a shop window on a quiet, somewhat questionable-looking street, sipping idly at my water bottle. An elderly, noticeably quirky lady walked towards me, her pig-pink, probably self-knit hat with its cheerful pompom quite anomalous in the general drizzly brown and grey of the scene. "Excuse me, where is the flea market? I know it's around here somewhere," she asked.

"I'm sorry," I replied, "I'm not from around here."

"Oh, really? You were drinking your water so confidently, I'd thought you must be."

25 January 2011

Fall down go boom

Because this page is where the juices of my brain like to ooze when under too much pressure to remain in my head, ooze they shall.

My unhatched chickens are preoccupying me. Though obviously it would be unwise to count them, they are many. There are job-chickens, exam-chickens, thesis-chickens, travel-chickens, love-chickens (you knew they were in there somewhere), .... I'm finding the chickeniness of my life these days a little overwhelming. There are a few things I find helpful in fending off visions of the white, wobbly fragility of it all: blog-oozing, for one, tea, TV, foreign languages and music.

Lately I've been hearing music everywhere -- the disco beat of my drippy tap, the old-fashioned-sounding kerclunk of Louise's bathroom fan, the sighing and whining of bus wheels, the subtle chirping of my computer's thought. When I feel like I'm about to topple over I pick up my guitar and try to elaborate further on the latest jig to emerge from it -- inspired, of course, by a certain chicken. The more I play, the quieter the rest of the noise in my head becomes. If this is insufficient, tea is consumed, and I immerse myself in the plot of a TV series. (Currently my dreams involve a lot of lawyering and whiskey-drinking, along with the usual train station hullabaloo.) And should I begin to get jittery and queasy over an academic task, I magically wind up on Google Translate or Wikipedia finding out things I don't need to know and reading languages I don't speak aloud just to see what they sound like. Some of them sound lovely; I sound entirely insane. My poor roommate had to pull me up off the floor of my bedroom and make me some tea today because I was consoling myself with a page of Italian ('frastagliata' was my favorite). Odd as it might be, it is strangely therapeutic.

So as my brain bastes in a larger than usual puddle, I am greatly appreciative of all the hands extended to help me up. And of coffee.