Friday, October 23, 2009

Language, Laughter and Music.

I was in the cafeteria this week with Cory and a Mexican girl we were helping with her English homework. We'd all been talking off and on, bouncing between English and Spanish but staying in one or the other depending. If it had to do with the homework, it was English, if not, then Spanish. We were in line waiting for our lunch orders when Cory asked me something and I answered him. The girl started laughing. What, I asked her. She said, he just asked you in English and you responded in Spanish.

I hadn't even thought about it. It just happened, just came out of my mouth like that. That afternoon at home, the television was on during lunch and I realized I was hearing it and understanding without actively listening and thinking. I call that A SUCCESSFUL STUDY ABROAD EXPERIENCE.

I remembered the other thing that had to do with change. It was one thing I refuse to change. I noticed, one day after I hadn't been here too long, myself laughing out loud. It was surprising to notice because I never really took note of that before, and I realized the only reason I noticed it was because I didn't much hear loud laughter here. I thought that must surely be a mistake, so I started paying attention, hoping to hear loud laughter. In the weeks that have followed, I'm really one of the very few people I've heard laughing loudly, and most of the other few people I've heard are also foreigners. So I wonder, is it bad form for women to laugh loudly here? Do I look like a floozy when I'm having a good time and enjoying myself? I have decided that I do not care. I will assimilate in all sorts of ways, I mean to say I do respect your culture but I will not contain my joy.

I've been wanting to write about playing piano for a while and have never gotten around to it. It has been one of my sources of joy while here. The rooftop and the piano have helped me more than anything else. I did finally get everything in order to be able to swim in the school pool, but when I did it was just disappointing. I felt like it was just wrong, somehow, all that beautiful free water being cooped up and contained like that. I swam a while, but not for long, and I haven't been back.

I play piano every single school day. My fingers are so strong now. There's a muscle on the underside of my forearm that wasn't there before and it's hefty. I started with a piece called Solfigietto by one of Bach's kids and it's a very busy piece, maybe you saw the video I put up when I was still learning it. From there I tried a couple simple pieces, one my sister mailed me and Fur Elise. Now I'm working on Bach's Partita no 1, but only the last part, the two Minuets and the Gigue. UGH it's tough, and I love it.

I love the walk over to the round building, I love the quiet that surrounds it. I love being greeted by my maestro as soon as he sees me - he always seems so genuinely glad I'm there. I love it when we talk for a while, I love his stories, when he starts to give me full life histories of past composers, or when he starts to go on about the pieces he loves, how if he plays this piece nothing in the world exists but the music, if he listens to that one it lifts him up to heaven, how one composers said that he who prays with music prays two times. I love the small rooms, the old pianos so badly mistreated with the wonky tunes. I love the natural light that comes in from the tall windows and the way the notes echo in there. How when I play this exercise it sounds as though someone's knocking on the door, and that one sounds like whispers, and this one makes echoes like someone's singing in the next room. I love when my fingers start to burn from the exercises; I love the progress I'm making on the Partita. I love feeling like I'm doing something good for myself; I love witnessing each piece develop. I love getting frustrated and feeling like I'm doing poorly that day and I should just pack it all up and go and then coming back the next day and being able to see that I'm still better.

Lots of plans to go out many places this weekend; should have some great tales for you next week.

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