Monday, April 27, 2009

Hear ye, hear ye

Announcement, world: I am going craz-y. 

Yes, I know. People proclaim this all the time, especially the last few weeks of school. But of me, it is actually true. I talk to my paper on Urban Gothic Novel Theology. I think about Masai warriors and find myself aimlessly jumping up and down in front of the window and humming. I . . . . I . . . I think the Sacred Harp people brainwashed me. 

You see, this past week I have been singing. A lot. And - loudly (as my long-suffering roommate pointed out). I have been wondering where it came from, this sudden feeling of music swelling in me, and finally have pinpointed the shape note singing as the cause. Yes. Something about that vibrant, eerie, ear-splitting music made me fall in love again with singing and I've been warbling my lungs out this past week. 

It comes as an especial comfort now. Ever since I lost all my music in the Great Hard Drive Crash, my music-loving self has been depressed, apathetic. I began to worry that I was losing my passion, that I would become one of those people, you know, the kind who don't listen to music. Even Nickel Creek -Nickel Creek- couldn't pull me out of the funk. 

And I realize something now. Since I abandoned the world of Musical Theatre, voice lessons, etc., to pursue English (oh my love), musical exploration - as opposed to performance - has been my only outlet. So I've delved deep and wide (mostly deep) across different musical spectrums, and have discovered many new infatuations in the process (Franz Ferdinand. Kate Rusby. Ingrid Michaelson. The Format. Doug Burr). All this has been well and good and wonderful. But I handed the singing rights to all those other legit voice people who stuck with it, and screwed a very tight lid on my own interest in musical expression. And now Sacred Harp has made me remember that I have a voice, and even if though it isn't the best or prettiest or well-trained, it's still an utter joy to use it.  

And so using it I am. Although I want to apologize to Val for that rousing 8 a.m. rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" while she was studying for a nursing quiz. Sorry, roomie. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Questions

Why don't I feel like doing anything except lying down in the sun and sleeping for a long, long time?

What if Handel had written music for the Heidelberg Confession?

When did my brain decide to shut down for 50 minutes out of every hour?

How do you balance the importance of orthodoxy and realizing that God is much, much bigger than having the right theology?

Where can I find a good recipe for sugar-free fried pies?

What if I shut myself up in the ivory tower of academia for the rest of my life? Could I still come down and visit sometimes?

Will the bamboo shoot lodged under my left finger get infected?

How do you go from being childish to childlike?

And lastly: What kind of ice cream is in the caf today?
At least I can find out the answer to that one.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Continuing Adventures of the Folklore Five and J. Brown

Current location: basement of the library. Wild storm brewing outside. Just returned from somewhere near Collinsville, AL, a shape note singin'.

Yes. This weekend has been rather - intense. I knew it would be when I went to sketch my poplar bud, and in gently grasping the branch it shook tulip poplar nectar on me. Just like Mott said. Mott taught J. Brown how to snare the elusive Cahaba redhorse, and the time is right when poplar buds spill their nectar . . .

Day 1 - the Little Cahaba; or, Don't Put All the Lunches in One Canoe
Yesterday, see, 23 students, of varying levels of skill, canoed 7 miles down the Cahaba. Dr. Brown in the lead (of course). Some guy named Randy in the back. The trip was not for the faint-hearted. An experienced canoeist even took a dunking early in the journey. We waded around in muddy Chacos and munched soggy trail mix and gazed in wonder at the unbelievable beauty of the river. Do you know how peace-full it is when the river is clear and cool and grey and the freshly-green trees and vines grow down to the banks and the only sounds are water-noises and the occasional bird cries?
And do you know how tired your arms get when you sit in the front the whole dang time?

We rode with our same happy group of five, and laughed and talked in the comfortableness of knowing we enjoy each other and appreciate nerdy stuff like dogtrot houses and the redhorse snaring. Ellen and Jordan survived their unexpected dip in the water, Drew and Josh took the river by storm (or tried to - they encountered some, um, difficulties) and I enjoyed just sitting in the front being the little engine that could with an experienced canoeist steering in the back. We came back tired, hungry, covered with rock-and-thorn battle wounds, and very happy.

Day 2 - Shape Note Singing and Dinner on the Grounds, i.e. I ate like a starving lumberjack
Our happy band united this morning with slightly more sleep than when we parted, and set out for "Collinsville." That was all we knew. We argued over whether it was in Georgia, Alabama or Tennessee (Dr. Brown loves to keep us guessing). It ended up being in Alabama, up a dirt road on a mountain.
It felt like a scene from a movie: the haunting music swelling from inside the tiny concrete building, marching single-file in a line of Sunday dressed kids, and entering the embrace of the explosive singing in the one room church. Ellen and I sat with a very nice lady in the treble section, and I would've been even more lost without her leading me through the labyrinth of notes. And she sang on the Cold Mtn. album(!). And the girl who sang "Lady Margret" sat right in front of me with her precious two year old(!). And I felt like I was surrounded by celebrities.

And then. Oh, then. Dinner on the Grounds. It deserves the capitals. Icy well water lemonade, and more food than I have ever seen in my life in one place, and I committed the sin of gluttony about three times over. On my first time through I loaded up a plate that could have served for two and half meals any other time, and inhaled it like a ravenous little street orphan. And then, against all better judgment, I went back for more and made another meal off the desserts. And promptly felt very sick. Even now, five hours later, I'm not sure I ever want to eat again. Food. Why do people eat food?
On the drive back through the lovely green fields, we played the "I Have Never" game to keep from falling asleep, and boy but I'm going to miss this class when it's over.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Just call me Nostradamus

In the 29 minutes between now and my Latin American culture test, I will hold forth on: the benefits of a drowsy quad afternoon, the horrors of the Urban Gothic novel, the Orwellian nightmare that is Barack Obama, and the life of a professional cane stripper.

Or I could just tell you about the dream I had night before last.

But then I should start with the POW-like injury I sustained yesterday. I was weaving my darned basket, and no I did not have gloves on because you can't wear gloves and weave a delicate basket, when a small cane-bamboo shoot just jammed straight under my left pointer fingernail. I stared at it for a moment in fascinated horror. Slash shock. Slash this basket thing has put me beyond caring so I just got up and pulled the splinter out. But then I remembered.
See, the night before I'd had this horrible dream about slicing open my left pointer finger. I had to wander around trying to keep a piece of kleenex wrapped around it and a bone was poking out and people were oblivious and I was like, "Guys? Um, can we do something about my hand?"

And then I hurt the same finger. The Very. Next. Day. I was a little bit creeped out. Was this a physical Freudian slip, where I unconsciously acted on some desire to harm myself? [To that: No. My subconscious prefers to let me knock against things and get abuse-worthy bruises. Even my subconscious is too cowardly for the searing pain of bamboo shoots under the fingernails.] Or was I subject to some kind of second sight? [An even freakier option.]

Then I remembered my Mom has predicting dreams. And I was comforted. If it's hereditary, it can't be bad. Right?

In other news, I am writing a paper on the theology of the urban gothic-sensational literature of mid-19th century America (low anguished groan). I realized last night I'm reading lots of books by/about Jews (Judaism is fascinating. And I really want to do that chair-dance thing at my wedding). I almost let myself sleep in this morning and skip the boring pointless class, but remembered in time that we have a test today.

A test, as in, 11 minutes. Bye.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

From the North Country

Back from Minnesota, and glad. Highlights:

-I loved the girls on the trip! It was so much fun to hang out with them for five days and get to know some other English major girls better. The three I roomed with had me laughing all the time - it was wonderful.

-The landscape, which was like Lars and the Real Girl. I love that movie. L.O.V.E. And better stop before I give in to the urge and watch it again for the fourth time since December.

-The hordes of nerds there who made me feel just a little bit less nerdy (let me state now that I am not, nor ever will be, a Battle Star Galactica fan. Thank you Lord). I felt pretty normal right up until I went to the poetry session, and loved hearing other people read their stuff and got way too excited about reading mine. In my session: a slight Korean Buddhist boy, an emo gay guy, a plump-ish, smiley, bohemian skirts girl, and a 53 year old man from a coal mining Kentucky town. They all had really good stuff.

-Finding the Mississippi river and devouring Thai food with Christine and Liz.

-The Minnesotan people. They are so nice. Like, really really nice. Like, people-helping-you-on-the-bus kind of nice. And I love their accents.


Now I'm back to spring in the South, spring in Alabama, spring at Samford. Which is certainly one of the loveliest things in the world. I'm much more an autumn than springtime person, but this right now is so beautiful I can't help but rejoice in all the alive and warm and soft of it all.

I took a walk yesterday in the neighborhood behind Samford, and found all sorts of lacey white and fuschia and purple and yellow loveliness, and even a pink dogwood.

And I went to the little park and laid myself down on a rock for a while, and it was good.

See the marketplace in old Algiers
send me photographs and souvenirs
Just remember when a dream appears
you belong to me
-Kate Rusby