Monday, March 31, 2014

Sides of Spring

Some pictures of the morning and of spring.

my balcony

entering Hana-no-michi (flower street) in Takarazuka
with Sensei (in pink) and Christy (in purple);
Christy and I asked Sensei to join us for lunch and she accepted.
She also bought us all treats:  strawberries surrounded by an (bean paste) and mochi.

Sensei (our shodo teacher) and Christy

Sensei knows a lot about flowers and shared many names with us as we slowly walked;
unfortunately I've forgotten them.  

After saying goodbye, I got on my bike thinking to freely spend my sunny afternoon at Nakayamadera looking at more Sakura (blossoms).  But along the way, I saw something else enticing:  a public library.

My card and the book I checked out.  

Spring indeed.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Two Goodbyes and a Distraction

Today was a big day at HPAC.  We got the disappointing news that our HPAC mother, Yoshie Maeda, will be leaving us.  She was the first person we foreigners met at HPAC.  She held our hand through the first days of navigating Japan, setting up our phone service, getting things at IKEA for our apartments, teaching us how to use the bus and the train.  She always had the time to answer any question we brought to her desk and the patience to listen to any complaint or suggestion we had.  She called doctors' offices to make appointments, instrument repair people for bow rehairs,  police stations to find missing bicycles.  Nothing was beyond the power and goodwill of Yoshie.  There will be someone to take her position, but big shoes to fill.

We also found out that our Bucho, the General Manager of the HPAC orchestra, will be leaving.  He had worked with us to helped establish more chamber music opportunities and it will be strange to have the break in continuity for our committee meetings.  We didn't know it was his last meeting in March, but apparently he will begin his new job at the beginning of April and a new Bucho will take his place.

Two people we had come to know, who had become familiar to us, will be going on to other things.  Apparently there is a world outside of HPAC to and from which people may go.  I feel like I've entered a new phase of childhood, of realizing the world is bigger and more mysterious than I can ever comprehend.

Luckily, throughout adulthood as well as childhood, there are distractions to those dark corners that always lurk.  And HPAC was also the source of one of these todays.  A tote bag gift to all of the core members which bears our individual likenesses on it.  Can you find me?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Morning Walk in Himeji

Empty shopping street


Time Machine

shop gates


sake no dainamaito (sake's dynamite)

one side of a building....
...and the other

bark of a blossoming tree...

...and its blossoms

outside the castle

sidewalk delivery 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dancing in Solitude Along the Bike Path (From a Japanese Gentlemen)

On this sunny day, on this beautiful spring morning, I put on my jogging suit and headed to the banks of the Muko River.  I went to the spot close to where people play croquet on weekend mornings (and maybe other mornings, I'm not sure), an open space between two groves of trees, looking across to baseball fields on the opposite bank.   The sun was above and ahead of me and the wind came strongly from the north, as it usually does.  Through my earbuds my radio was playing a waltz and I stepped into my part, hands around a woman not there, preparing for the day she would appear.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Children's Music

In Japan, the school year begins in April.  And to get them off to a good start, HPAC takes to the highway for an annual Children's Tour around this time.  We'll be bringing the youth of Hyogo a program of Star Wars, three arrangements of It's a Small World, Carmen Fantasy, and Hanamizuki for solo melodica and orchestra, as well as some Studio Ghibli hits and the indefatigable, Radetzky March. Our solo melodica player is a virtuoso model for the many children that will be bring their own melodicas to the concert.

After a week of heightened musical perception, it's funny to be flexing the same intent, even for It's a Small World.  And perhaps that's why it's important to keep practicing beyond what is needed and what is required:  it trickles into all the spaces and benefits even those who have yet to learn what they are perceiving.  Keep flowing little stream.  Over a rehearsal and through a GP to the open hearts of children.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Last of the Plum Blossoms at Nakayamadera

The height of the plum trees was probably a little over a week ago; but even though the blossoms had mostly fallen, they were still beautiful and no one was there on this weekday evening after the full bloom.  It was one of those quiet walks where every moment was more beautiful than the last.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Return to Shodo

A line must know where it's going before it begins.  A bow change must know the next corner it will turn.  A sound must know itself before it is heard.  How does one connect an instant to another?  How can we be in one place if we are to move to another?  I think it is an impossible thing that we are chasing.  But through practice, I think we close the gap between ourselves and the impossible.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Opposing Wind

Usually if there is any wind, it is at my back on the way to HPAC.  On this beautiful spring day, I entered the path along the river and felt more resistance than I had been expecting.  There were no leaves to tell me why, not yet.  It wasn't until half-way through my ride that a caution tape on a wire confirmed my suspicion:  that the wind was against me, and heavily.  People going in the opposite direction seemed to be living the good life, and for no apparent reason.  Such an invisible force, that challenging wind.  Did it make it any easier knowing that it was hard?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lesson with Mr.Thornton

I had the pleasure of an hour-long lesson today with my stand partner.  Memories of years of lessons came back to me–the act of taking in what another person is trying to give, getting on the same wave length, putting focus where it needs to be.  There can be such a synthesis of purpose in a lesson.

I played for him and when it became apparent that I just wanted to work on general concerns in moving from imagination and sound concepts to technique and approach on the cello, we spent the time playing single notes, working on bow changes and vibrato, searching after something vague but concrete.  There is a time when the sound appears, but asking for it has no words. Use your ears.  Play what the cello wants.  Listen ahead.  And slowly something emerges.  A sound that isn't my sound but is more my sound than any I've played.  From where does it come?

And now some ideas to think about in the coming weeks and months.  Perhaps another lesson over Skype if able to do so.  But the sound has to come from me.

Later over dinner, Mr.Thornton starting talking about his lessons and conversations with Mr. Harrell.  The importance of sitting with something, and then sitting with it more and continuously asking it to emerge.  Of shaping it and looking and looking for a process.  He and the principal bassist who was with us concluded that it's pretty cool to be able to examine something like this on such a level.  To be able to play music for a living and engage in such a search.  I agree.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What We See

Sometimes it is hard to know what is real.  Maybe that's true most of the time.  My reality at HPAC, at least as I know it, is maybe not what others perceive.  And I'm not sure which is right, which is a little disorienting.

Yesterday there was an issue that brought to light the possibility of discrimination between the foreign and Japanese members at HPAC.  I had not been offended, but others were very upset about it, citing other instances where exclusive behavior based on race had been exercised.  I had not been aware of these instances, nor of the comments some of the foreigners said had supposedly been said about them behind their backs–comments generalizing their behavior and ability.

These allegations rolled off of me in my incorrigible aloofness.  I had not been aware of these issues, if they did exist.  I wasn't angry about the issue, though I agreed that what had happened was not good practice for morale and should be addressed.   I really enjoy my Japanese colleagues and have always found them to be very helpful and interested in reaching out to me, in many regards.  Generally there is a division that falls with language and cultural comfort, but it would never occur to me that I should be invited to a dinner where most of the members would be Japanese.  We are friends, but our conversations can only take our relationship so far.  It's much easier to intimately relate to those with whom you can speak.  Albeit, I value many of my non-speaking or partially-speaking relationships just as much as speaking ones for the unique way that they allow me to interact with another person.  But they are not the same and don't hold the same social position in my life.

But these allegations hurt.  They were not directed at me, just relayed to me.  The thought that my colleagues might feel a certain way about one another, that they might congregate and say negative things about one another in a general way, that they would exercise such a sentiment.  It seemed both strange and extremely disillusioning.

Perhaps I am naive to think that people sincerely mean well.  Perhaps it is naive to think that these transgressions in judgement, that these generalized comments made within groups about other groups, that these actions and words, are less a fault of character than a mistake, a lack of awareness, a lack of communication.  Perhaps it is naive to think that there is less malice behind it, than ignorance and lack of foresight.  

I've been called "nice" and I'm not sure in what way.  But it seems that at this juncture I have an option.  And I wonder if what I choose to be my reality doesn't in some way effect what is real.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

100 Yen Temptations

There are many temptations in the 100 yen store.  Things to make life better, more organized, more fashionable, a little cleaner, and glitter never hurts.  Every time I enter the shop for a practicality or necessity, I inevitably end up spending two or three times longer pondering the possibilities and curiosities that sit inside.  But tonight, I managed to walk down only two aisles.  One was for a specific obligatory item:  a notebook to replace one nearly full.  The other was a nonspecific obligatory item:  amusing stationary.  And then I walked out.  Past the smiling toys, the bags, the decorations, the stickers and office supplies.  Past the seasonal goods that give a glimpse into coming rituals and traditions.  Past many wonderful things that promise to make life better, 100 yen at a time.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mr.Thornton Comes to Japan

This week I am sitting next to a member of the Cleveland Orchestra who is leading our cello section for this project.  Perhaps more so than any other orchestra in the world, Cleveland is the one that has effected my orchestral playing most directly.  I remember studying with members of the orchestra, one summer, and playing with students from the Cleveland Conservatory, who were heavily influenced by the standards and practice of the orchestra.  I was always impressed with their sense of time and rhythm (likely something they acquired from the benefit of several years of required eurhythmics classes), and also by their sense of ensemble, of being keenly aware of one another's playing.

As I sit next to him, I am aware of his awareness, and also aware of how much I may potentially be missing in my own awareness.  Articulation, bow speed, bow placement, and calculated fingerings are just parts of the technical mastery that he brings to the part.  Through these he is acutely aware of his sound, of the execution of the phrase.  There is a level of control I don't think I ever imagined to be possible; such a palette of colors and textures, all so seemingly accessible as he chooses to use them.  It seems to be a new level of listening, of perceiving and reacting.  

I think he is teaching me in the way that he plays, gently demonstrative and very consistent.   There is a lot I can learn just by sitting next to him.  To absorb the way of another.  If only there were a way to keep it with me, but likely the only way to do so is to let it go, and find it in myself.

He mentioned that he studied with Lynn Harrell and I can see it and hear it in his playing.  I took a masterclass once with Mr.Harrell and had the pleasure to accompany him on two different occasions.  I can see how much Mr. Thornton learned from him.  And yet, I wonder how often he felt the same way, of wanting to harness the magic of his lessons.  Perhaps this is the way it is when one is eager to learn from another.  It's never enough.  They bring out the need of the inner teacher to rise to the occasion.

It is nice to have this connection with teaching and learning.  To be close to a model that influenced me in my musical upbringing and to have the exchange of musical information.  Always good to have another reach out and to reach back.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Other Side

As I was filling in my paperwork for my reentry into Japan two days ago, I realized that I am now over the half-way point of my time here.  It was a strange feeling.

Sometimes it is very difficult to live here.  I've become familiar with the absence of those I love and care about.  An acceptance that others' lives continue without me, that I continue without them.

And I've become familiar with the feeling of living between lives, in a space that may or may not exist.  Perhaps life is infinitely broken into hiatuses, rebirths and beginnings, but I think this one will stand out in space and time, set apart in some way.  I often think that I live in the afterlife in Japan, a place of peace and detachment from the rest of the world.

It has been an experiment in patience, in the suspension of space and time.  How long can someone or something–an ideal, a love, a passion–stay afloat?  Perhaps some are infinite, the phrase and breath of life.

And yet even this experience is marked by time.  In this life, in this world, there are beginnings and endings.  What goes on forever?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rising Sun

Japan.  The rising sun is earlier than when I left; it lingers longer in the evenings.  The cherry blossoms have yet to bloom; I like to think they waited for me.  It's coming, it's coming; spring is coming!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Return to a Foreign Home

At least part of me is back in Japan.  I still have dried mud on my shoes from Granchester meadows.

When I got off the airport bus and went to claim my luggage, the man who handled it looked up at me, smiling at my non-Japanese face and cello and said in English, "Welcome."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Farewell to Cambridge

This was the last full day in Cambridge.  Tomorrow I'll head back to Japan.  We spent the day with a walk into town to buy various things, a run through the meadows for a scone with jam and clotted cream at the Orchard, and another visit to Evensong at King's College Cathedral.  I had gone to all these places before, either during this visit or when I was here two years ago, but they are always different.  In the summer there were leaves on the trees in the meadows, at Evensong there was a different choir and different reading.  And this is what makes leaving so hard.  I won't be here for the blossoms on the trees at the Orchard.  But I will see them in Japan.  Always, there is some part of the daily liturgy of life somewhere in the world that I am missing.  People that I love doing things that I will not share.  Seasons changing, choirs singing, performances, and ceremonies.  It is hard to say goodbye.  But perhaps the more I do it, the more I will learn to let go and welcome the place where I am.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Fukunari-Sensei in London

As luck would have, Fukunari-Sensei is in London this month visiting her son and his family to help with their soon-to-be-born new baby.  I had sent her an email earlier in the week to suggest that we meet while we were in London and this morning we awoke to find a voice message from her.  After enjoying a lovely breakfast served to us by our hosts, some of Andrew's relatives who had  attended the concert the night before, we headed into central London to meet with her for a tea.

I was wearing a very conspicuous cello on my back, and knew what Fukunari-Sensei looked like, but somehow Andrew was able to pick her out of the crowd before either of us noticed one another.  Walking with her in London was something very special.  The pace of her unhurried step matched with the briskness of the London gait, her patient waiting at all the traffic walk lights while others took advantage of a break in the cars, her courage in being in such a foreign place with all the energy and security that I knew of her in Japan.  Here she was in a country closer to my upbringing, not my home, but at least one in which I could maneuver in language, and still she was my teacher, still my guide, still a model in a foreign world.  

We found a chocolate cafe in a nearby mall and Andrew got a flapjack for us to share, some black tea and chocolates.  She started to drink her tea without milk, but added a bit after we did, almost as a sign of politeness rather than preference.  She took bits of the flapjack that we divided, and the chocolate.  I asked her if she liked the English food and she complimented the bargain prices at the grocery store.  We chatted about places to see in England and she invited us to come to her home for dinner the next time Andrew came to England.  When we had to leave to meet a friend for lunch, she contentedly and graciously helped the meeting come to a close and stayed behind in the mall to look for clothing for her grandchildren and the new arrival.  We bowed farewell and left her alone, more than capable of dealing with a day in a very foreign place.  

London Concert in an Adams Home

I imagined last night's concert to have been written by Kurt Vonnegut.  A unique and ironic feeling of being comfortably out of place in a world that seemed to have been constructed with very specific intentions.  A beautiful Adams home in central London whose owners host concerts and master classes about three times a week.  The two floors I saw had 18 foot ceilings with intricate wainscoting, a huge kitchen filled with workers preparing the night's canapés for the post-concert reception, a huge dining room where Andrew and I sat to eat our ready-made sandwiches and sushi from the grocery store before the concert, a huge drawing room with chandeliers and dozens of paintings covering the walls where the concert was held, a well-used master bedroom whose door was unashamedly open, and two large guest rooms that served as dressing rooms for the performers.  There was a staircase leading to another floor of curiosities never to be explored.  The walls were covered with books where the paintins stopped

In an explanation on the provenance of the concerts, the host said that when their youngest son passed away, they sold his flat in London and used the funds to start a scholarship fund for architecture students.  To escape the sadness of their memories, they also sold their home in southwest London and searched for another space, one which might have a large room to host music concerts whose tickets sales would go to support the scholarship fund, as well as other funds.  Their idea has grown far beyond what they envisioned and it seems to keep them fully occupied now, fourteen years after their son's death.

Indeed their concerts seem to have become a beacon for many different organizations and musicians with varying ambitions and purposes.  Some musicians use the space as a warm-up for Wiggmore Hall or other prestigious venues. Others use it as a space for master classes.  And last night's concert, as it turned out, was something of a fundraiser for The Cambridge University Musical Society.  All the other performers on the program were affiliated with the University in some way and it seemed the concert was meant to be something of a showcase for Cambridge musicians.  There were Lords, Ladys, and Knights on the guest list, and I even had the fortune to meet Benjamin Britten's nephew afterwards.  As out of place as I felt as an American Midwesterner in this canapéd Adam's home (whatever that means), as awkward as it seemed to maneuver in a new culture and social circle I'd only seen in movies, and as strange as my short little bio must have read compared to others filled with concerts at reputable British halls, I felt very comfortable.   Just as Vonnegut writes of an absurd world where all things are equal, so too did I feel quite at home in a place very foreign in structure, in language, in custom, in shared knowledge and experiences.  If they had known, perhaps I would not have been in their home, but there I was.  And the world made space for something unexpected, it stretched effortlessly to accommodate me.  Perhaps I was in Japan.  Perhaps I just live among a world of people who have far more kindness and acceptance in their hearts than any of us realize.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Singing in a Cambridge Choir

Andrew sings in the Wolfson College Choir at Cambridge and the director allowed me to sing in two rehearsals and a small concert this evening.  It made me remember my time in choir at high school, that fulfilling feeling of singing with thirty other people, the physical pleasure of sound, the power and visceral quality of the voice.  There were several members of our choir in high school that came from a tradition of gospel church singing and they brought a passion and fullness to the group sound that was uplifting in a way I'd never experienced in music before.   A sincerity, conviction, and joy that was at once serious and carefree.  

The choir experience this week was a little different.  Certain words were pronounced differently than I would have guessed, there weren't assigned seats, and the atmosphere was a bit more casual than the strictness required to keep a group of high schoolers in line.  The American gospel church tradition wasn't there.  In place of it was a model of the choir at King's, of pure voweled motets, of chorales by Bach.  And yet in it was the same powerful respite in which I had taken refuge over ten years ago, the place to which I had turned in the confusing emotions of growing up, before so much of life as I now know it had even begun to form.  That this act should be such a universal joy that extends across varied traditions and models of music performance is a very comforting thing.  To create a sound with others, to take pleasure in a sound with others.  Incredible to be human and to be able to do such a thing.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Evensong at King's Cathedral

I wonder if the sound is still echoing in the stone columns.  From hundreds of years ago, from this evening, from tomorrow.  Does a sound know what it will become when it opens to the world?  If not in that place, then please, within me.   

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Preserve Your Memories

We stepped into King's College Chapel this morning and left the half-marathon cheers outside.  We were escorted to seats with the small congregation facing one another on the sides of the aisle leading up to the alter.  The boys' choir walked in procession to their seats a bit further from the alter, closer to the organ, facing one another, dressed in red and white robes, some very young, some soon to graduate from the position.  The procession walked between us, the minister, the cross, the candles.  The stained glass light shifted over the course of the hour, the blues moving down the wall as the sun rose higher, the high-vaulted ceiling echoing the pure chants, the Kyrie, the Angus Dei, all parts of the mass and sermon.  The candles gave their gentle light and the time passed in peace, unrushed even by the jittery legs of the adolescent boys who had nevertheless been immaculately well-trained and seemed to know the priviledge of being a part of such an esteemed choir.

We sat and listened to the organist finish Bach's Prelude and Fugue in b minor BWV 544, before rising and leaving.  What is it like to have music so closely connected to such an act of spiritual devotion?  To create it only as an act for God, as Bach always did?  

There was not a cloud in the sky in Cambridge today.  We got a scone and rhubarb brazil nut cake before heading to a very popular boat rental, far understaffed for the miraculous weather of this Sunday afternoon.  Punting is one of the most popular pastimes in Cambridge and everyone was hiring one with their friends, boarding with bottles of champaign and potato crisps.  We got a double kayak and headed upstream through Grantchester meadows which were filled with people picnicking, taking in the sun, holding one another, playing with their children, walking with their dogs, awkwardly operating punts.  

As the sun set, we walked in to town for dinner.  Andrew pointed out Newton's apple tree and his office at Trinity College.  He was a person and walked these streets.  

The swans in the river were going to sleep during the walk home, the ducks were quiet and the people of the afternoon had headed to the pubs and formal dinners of their colleges.  The sky was clear and studded with stars and a half-moon.

A day is so full of experiences.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

To Grantchester and Back

After our concert this afternoon, Andrew and I went for a long walk through the Grantchester meadows, green pastures that run along the River Cam right outside Cambridge.  Many people were out on this spring-like day; British voices accompanied our walk, softening the green, making the pastoral stroll even more idyllic.  We arrived at The Orchard, a historic tea house in the outskirts of Cambridge where one can get a low lying table under the flowering trees, picnicking as many famous people of the past had done over the past century since its founding, including Virignia Woolf, Watson and Crick, John Cleese, Prince Charles and dozens of others.  We enjoyed Twinings tea, and though quite disappointed that they we're out of scones, we made do with a Bakewell cake, a sweet cake with raspberry jam and marzipan topping.

We walked back through the meadows and into town, stopping in a candy shop that was filled from floor to ceiling with mysterious delectable treats.  Behind the counter were huge jars of licorice, fudge, gobbstoppers, chocolates.  We decended the wrought iron spiral stairs to the basement to discover more incredible treats and teas.  The overwhelming possibilities and a fast approaching closing time allowed us to somehow leave empty-handed but my eyes will not forget, and surely I will return.  

We continued our walk further into town and found our destination Japanese restaurant to be so filled that we chose not to wait the hour-and-a-half.  We will have to return another day and perhaps find another curry on the way.  

Cambridge is so full of possibilities and experiences. Restaurants, teas, landscapes, people and ideas. Everywhere we go it seems that there are people who know Andrew, such is the nature of a small town where everyone is collaborating with one another.  They stop and share new ideas about apps they are designing, or recitals they want to give, or asking about performances of his recent musical Science! about life in the lab, something to which many people here are sympathetic.  

It's wonderful to be in the culture and the graces of this beautiful city.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Random Acts of Kindness

We have our first concert tomorrow at Wolfson College in Cambridge tomorrow.  In the past few days I've been spending a lot of time rehearsing in the hall and have come to know some of the workers that stop by to clean and organize the space for various events.  In particular, the woman who cleans everyday always pops her head in to let me know she is there.  

As I was walking to the grocery store today with my cello on my back, a car honked its horn and I turned to see who it was.  It was the woman who cleans the hall.  She shouted, "You got far to walk?" offering me a ride.  I had already reached my destination but the thought of squeezing myself and my cello into her little car was amusing and I was a bit sorry to have to give up the opportunity to chat a little more with her.  It feels good to feel more and more welcome in a place.  Whenever someone reaches out beyond what they need to do, it reminds me that this choice is always available, even when it isn't common practice to do so.  To say hello, to hold a door, to move something out of the way for another, to offer a ride.  Sometimes these random acts of kindness catch me off-guard, but never in a bad way.  I wonder where they first started.  The ball is in my court, as it so often seems to be, in this never-ending game of paying it forward.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

World Without End

Another day in London.  It has become apparent that the world is larger than humanly possible.  A day of tubing through the Underground, of seeing friends, but never enough of them, of seeing posters and ads for musicals that will never be seen, places to travel that will only be imagined; the experiences of the world and the inability to take them all in has become an act of acceptance.   On our exhausted train ride back to Cambridge, Andrew asked me if there was  any place I'd like to try to visit in England before I left.  The possibility that somewhere in between concerts, and social obligations, and his own obligations with school that we might find time to travel to the coast or some other town for a day trip.  A walk along the coast would be lovely, but I think I will enjoy a walk along the River Cam, just as well.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

English Japanese

Just as in Japan, there is a pervasive courtesy to many social interactions, customs, and practices in England.  Perhaps it is simply my gratitude for any kindness expressed as I make my way through an unknown country. Perhaps it is the novelty of everything- its fresh green-that makes me look up at people and see them in such a kind light.

But I do think there is a consideration for others that is perhaps the result of an island culture constantly in contact with one another, unable to find much space and in need of certain rules to make things go more smoothly.  The tendency not to get too close to one another in conversation material or eye contact.  A softer tone of voice, a privacy in the midst of presence.  England is a Japan whose words I can understand.  I wonder if I will understand Japan in a new way after having been here.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Eating Pancakes with a British Accent

Today was Pancake Day in England, the British celebration on Fat Tuesday.  We attended not one but two Pancake Day parties and I discovered a whole new world of pancake possibilities.  Pancakes with artichoke hearts, spinach and feta, squash and feta, applesauce, olives, tuna, salmon, jams, cheeses, mushrooms, eggplants (aborigines), Nutella, and of course plenty of blueberries and maple syrup to top it off.  So many delicious possibilities and another pretext for a group dinner with many friends that I can supplant to any location I happened to live.  Pancake Day in England and who would know if I happened to host it on any other day of the year?

Monday, March 3, 2014

New English

How do the idioms we use change how we feel about things?  How does the way we say something change its meaning?  In England it is not uncommon to be greeted with, "You alright?" and one answers, "Yeah good."  When someone thanks another for a task, the corresponding response is, "That's alright."  Everything is said in a quick friendly manner.  The voice is used in a soft, brisk, and unforced manner.  How does it change the language that I speak and hear?  Laying meaning on a newly landscape of expression.  

Hospitality in Cambridge

It can be hard to find a place to practice sometimes, but luckily some friends of Andrew's have offered free use of their private studio which is situated at the back of the garden of their home.  I spent the morning practicing there.

One of the hosts was gardening as I walked in and got his wife to come say hello.  They gave me the key to this garden spot, and turned on the heat, and offered their home (or garden) should I need to use the loo.

In the evening I enjoyed the hospitality of several friends of Andrew's from Cambridge.  It continues to impress me the amount of diversity that exists in England.  Of the group one was Polish, one of German and Indian descent but raised In England, one German, one South Korean but raised in England, two from Chile, and two were British.  We enjoyed a meal of vegetarian paella and meringue and then played a game of mafia together.  

And then a long dark walk home through the rainy streets of Cambridge on a path that I'm starting to know and own.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Walking in Cambridge

Walking through morning mists and greens towards a breakfast of jam with bread, fruit, eggs, marmite, and delicious tea with milk.  Sitting in the children's choir rehearsal for King's Junior Voices, walking through the narrow aisles of the University Library to retrieve a book of James and Dewey's essays.  Walking and walking through the streets of Cambridge, through the open skies of its common places, its old buildings and churches, its diversity.  Settling in the evening stars of a clear sky over yet another open field.