Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Translating Suffering

My dear E! is working on a project about which I am totally excited. Excited, honestly, to the point, that I just called her to tell her that I want to write something with her about it. Basically, it's a study of concentration camp museums, specifically Buchenwald, and how the shapes/forms/presentation of the products associated with that museum tell a story about the past.

To that end, she just received a booklet from the museum, in which the participants and artists describe their projects in light of History and Nation and Ethnicity. She, being brilliant, is translating the German into English. Pretty awesome, yes?

That is not the point of this post, though. The point of this post is relation--as I talk to dear E!, I am in the middle of bureaucratic, form-filing nightmare, tenure-track paperwork. And I am feeling sorry for myself because I HATE it.

Then, she sends me a phrase: "hautbespannte Kochenwesen":--used by one of the museum artists to describe the former prisoners of the camp. She tells me that it can be translated literally, as "skin-tightly-stretched knuckle-beings."

And my eyes water.

And I am not so sorry for myself anymore.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Best. Day. Evar.

SO... I am writing this entry for my mother:

1) because she wants me to write more
2) because, she says, although she likes the last entry, it is sad, and she wants me to write something happy.
3) because she is awesome and deserves to get things she wants.

Here you are, dear mother, my first, fiercest, and favorite audience.

Friday, my dear friend, Josh, was in town. Why was he in town?, you may ask. Well, I’ll tell ya—he is working on a public speaking book that will defy the boring odds of public speaking texts, and he was signing the contract. So Hooray for that! And Hooray for the students and teachers who will get to use a non-run-of-the-mill textbook for public speaking!

We met up for lunch, and it was good to see his face. Then, a friend of his (from grad school, I think) showed up. Naida lives in Brooklyn, teaches in Manhattan, and is delicious all around. The three of us went for a walk around the lower part of the island. Saw some crazy bobo interior decorating store, walked the High Line, ate at this AWESOME place that serves all sorts of chocolate* bits. Ahhh, desultory wandering and decadence.

As we were walking, Naida told us about some options for the night—one of which was a Goth/Industrial dance party. Yes. I was not dressed appropriately—jeans, low top white converse sneakers and a white tank top. My smart-ass cousin recommended that I stop somewhere and pick up a cardigan to complete the look. Dear cousin, your concern for my sartorial welfare is touching.**

With that plan in mind (not the cardigan, but the dancing) the three of us parted, to rest, eat some snacks, and find clothes. Then we met up again at Penn Station; they approved my shoes (patent leather peep toes, if you must know. They are my favorite). We proceeded downtown to see some of our debaters at their favorite, shady Irish pub. Then the three of us went dancing with some very serious club patrons somewhere near Canal St.

I like that music. Love and Rockets, especially. Josh, if you’re reading this, you wanna send me some recs? Because I need a departure from the Prince/Greg Laswell/Owl City over which I’ve been obsessing for days now.

Now. You may think that this is the end of the adventure, but Oh Ho! there is more.

The trains back to Bayside run fairly infrequently after midnight. With that in mind, I left Josh and Naida so I could catch the 1:19—did not want to be caught in that deathly TWO HOUR wait between the 1:19 and the 3:19. That is, like the opposite of fun, just by the way.***

As I am walking down the stairs to catch the train—another friend calls. He and some of his buddies are downtown and want to see if I will meet them. As I pause to chat with him, the doors to the train close... And I’m like, “Well, I have a couple hours to kill. So. Yes.”

And then there was dancing. And Irish car bombs. And love advice dispensed. And sauntering. And flirting. And discussion of the lameness of one of the deadbeat friends. And praise for my shoes. And a rose in the hair. And more dancing. And a stroll home in the gradually lightening dawn.

I ended up catching the 5:19 train.
That’s right, Mom. Your girl can hang.

*{I had the Red Heart—which is a warm, chocolate cake filled with raspberry and dark chocolate filling. It is served on a plate that also contains… wait for it… raspberry yogurt, vanilla ice cream with some chocolate sauce on top, and a tiny little bottle of dark chocolate sauce to pour over everything. I ate that cake like someone was gonna snatch it away from me. And, then, because I clearly enjoyed it so much, Naida ordered one for herself. And gave me a bite.}

** {I think cardigans are cool, but I am not an imbecile.}

***{Super Good for People Watching, though. You would not believe the sights, sounds, and shoes that come through that place. Well. Maybe you would. Dirty.}