— this is really happening

January, 2008 Monthly archive

What breathing can feel like.

The idea for "this is really happening" came one night at N.A.’s house in 2004. Jumping up and down in the kitchen we blissed out on the realization that indeed, this is really happening right now to us all. Jeffrey was there to remind us that we might be dead for all we knew, and that is what this is. (shrug) All the same, it is happening, and someday it won’t be happening and something else will be in its place. So, as the rain leaked onto my head last night, I attempted to crack some metaphorical smiles, strange as it may have been. How wonderful dripping water can become when accompanied by uplifting thoughts.

More coming today, there’s heaps on my mind.

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BobbyFischer.jpg[added on tuesday 1/22: please excuse my misspelling of his name. gosh. all fixed. thanks 🙂 and erin.]

Bobby Fischer passed today in Reykjavik, Iceland at the age of 64 (the number of chess squares on a board). No cause of death was given. His accomplished record and controversial story inspired me to learn to play chess.

The first chessboard I used was made of glass. It sat in our living room permanently. The small pieces were delicate, not for children. It was a great honor to play with the grown-up toy. Over that chessboard, where I first learned the names of the pieces and how they move across the board, my Father told me of Bobby Fischer’s victory against the Russian Spassky in the early 70s, a few years before I was born. Then he told me of Bobby’s mysterious disappearance. To my young mind, the idea of disappearance by choice was inconceivable. I wondered what his house looked like and if he saw guests.

When Bobby emerged from seclusion in ’92 to challenge Spassky to a rematch in Yugoslavia, I was fixed to our color TV (still with knobs). I don’t know if we really did this, but I remember watching it as a family. I don’t know if it was even on TV, but I remember doing this. My Mother made tacos that night.

Bobby’s second defeat of Spassky earned him $3 million and a spot on the US’s Wanted list for violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia. With that, he disappeared again, renouncing the US forever. To my knowledge, he emigrated to Iceland and lived there until he died earlier today.

Although it never happened, my imagination conjures Bobby Fischer walking in front of me past brick buildings on a snow-lined street, an air of infamous indifference about him as he stops and glances back my way, before casually turning the corner. Fist-high remembrance and respect, Mr. Fischer.

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Our Xmas tree has been sitting on our curb for nearly a week now. Remember we blessed him in prayer on his way to the big mill together, you and me, earlier this week. The nice folks (who are becoming not as nice as the needle piles grow) have not picked him up quite yet. One has to wonder, there are lists you can put your phone number on so as to avoid telemarketing calls … are we on a no-pickup Xmas tree list? The neighbors trees have been picked up. They’re on the nice list. We must be naughty. I’ve thought of putting on the work gloves in the deepest dark of the night and dragging our tree two houses down. Is that not legal?

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So long as space remains,
So long as sentient beings remain,
I will remain,
In order to help, in order to serve,
In order to make my own contribution.

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When I lived in Switzerland years ago I had many friends whose first language was not English. Many of them could rock it like it was, though. I would sigh big American sighs as I observed their smooth, easy weave of three or four languages come forth, leaving me in stumbling, single-syllabaic dust. Me, I floundered with foreign language, never quite getting beyond the act of quick translation in my head. But, there were a few rare occasions (usually after I’d been in the country for over three months) when my translation hamster (usually after I’d fed him well) would run the wheel all on his own and I would find myself churning out responses to questions with an immediacy that indicated I was not "thinking" about how to say something before saying it. Impeccable, reverent moments of lang-heaven. And of course it was always an afterthought when it would happen. An astonished me would suddenly realize I hadn’t contemplated a response or a statement, it had just arrived on an express train, inside, free of charge, first class, all by itself. Boo-ya.

My 2008 vows have given me a new fire for accomplishing many dreams. Near the top of the list is a revival of determination to speak French fluently. I’m not sure what this will necessitate but we’re going to find out. I’ve studied French the most and it comes the easiest when I try to speak a different tongue. Italian too maybe, because well, to die not having spoken Italian might be against the law. Spanish would probably be the most relevant, so okay, you’re right, maybe that too. But, what this whole post is actually about is another little language from another little country that has warmed my heart in the past few days.

With Mister Chapman visiting from Brooklyn/South Africa/Swaziland, igniting a swirl of conversations in his path, I have unexpectedly found myself talking about the land of Denmark a great deal, a place he’s traveled extensively. Last night we focused specifically on one very special word: the adjective "hyggelig." According to Berlitz it’s pronounced "hew-ger-li," and you have to make your lips taut and rounded for the first syllable, as if you were sipping from a big straw of air. As a frequently used word, hyggelig possesses a range of meaning and connotations, which makes it difficult to translate. "Hyggelig, hyggelig, hyggelig—hyggelig beer, hyggelig flowers, hyggelig this, hyggelig that. Everything’s hyggelig to the Danes." said MJ when he was telling us about it. MJ is another Dane-traveler; it’s Denmark all over the place right now.

Hyggelig is not only an adjective that the Danes use constantly, I am told it is actually an entire mindset as well. Loosely translated it means "instantly cozy," "snuggly," "homey." It’s also a way of being, so Danes thank you for the hyggelig day you may have just shared with them, but they will also make a place hyggelig by lighting candles and starting a fire in the winter. I am in love. Not only is the word itself fun to say, I feel an energy inside it too that’s like putting on a pair of  mittens up in the clouds with a Bjork song playing in the background. On brisk days like today, my morning coffee is exactly hyggelig. The newspaper is hyggelig. The sun on the frosty windows. Exactly. You get it.

Really, this post is a church bell. An announcement in the village square. I am bringing hyggelig into my vernacular, guys. I’d like it to roll off my tongue like "totally" rolls off of yours. The translation hamster has been fed. Hyggelig can now start running all on its own. Thus, my job is done here. You’ve been prepped.

Here’s a quick shot of me making Harvey’s new home nice and hyggelig for her birthday:


And a hyggelig dinner with Harvey & MJ:


And two hyggelig folks, AM & DJ Baxter (with the coolest shirt this side of the Ganges!) talking about the size of the surf waves at Maverick’s this weekend.


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[Wrote this yesterday before the power went out for 14 hours]

The clouds are covering my monitor today and it’s helping me not work. Fit for a day like today are the the Great Lake Swimmers (they’re a band). I came across them when I read Aaron Kayce’s Best of 2007 Album Reviews. I find myself continually touched by his musical opinion, and his number one album for last year is no exception. Here’s one song, Changing Colours from the album Ongiara. I have been dancing in flopsy circles to it all morning. Listen below with neat player.

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