still leaving things slightly ajar

Church seemed to keep me off balance yesterday, but I managed to do my job pretty well anyway. People insist on coming late and missing critical moments of rehearsal which causes our performances to be less than they easily could be. I guess I’m just lucky people show at all. 

I fear the service would have started late as well if I hadn’t urged the assistant priest to start on time.   I think there were a few musical moments yesterday and that’s always nice. 

I have been enjoying Henry Alford‘s “How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (while they are still on this earth).” So far he has interviewed Granny D, Harold Bloom and a wonderful woman I had never heard of: Setsuko Nishi.

Nishi has devoted her life to academia and the study of long-term effects of wartime incarceration on Japanese Americans. She herself was briefly incacerated (5 months) as a young person.

Alford relates her experience. She was released by the U.S. government to attend Washington University and “was told that if she was willing to work for her room and board, a second incarecerated Japanese-American student would also be sprung from the camp and sent to college.” She did. While she worked as babysitter and helper for a family near the university, she vowed that she would never take a second helping of the food while her parents and brother were still in a camp. She relates a painful memory of being pressed by her employers to have an extra helping of some dish she obviously enjoyed. She began crying and left the table. 

When Alford asks how she is able to speak about her own and others’ painful memories of this time. She commented: “There are things you don’t reveal. But I [think it’s] important to show that there are lot of feelings here [in the U.S.]. I want people to know there’s a lot of residue here. That everything is not all OK. That there are still things that will probably never go away…. Some people say to me, ‘How come you’re not bitter?’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, how do you know I’m not?’ ”

I think that’s great.

Alford spends a lot of time writing about his own mother who seems pretty cool. I like this exchange quite a bit.

“I drove up to Massachusetts on a Monday. Mom had previously buy diazepam pills asked all four kids to come on Memorial Day weekend and help her clean out the house. Standing at the kitchen sink, watching me make us dinner, Mom said, “JP says she wants to come ‘for closure.’ What does she think she’s going to close?’

‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I have a friend who always wants to close things, too, and I never quite get it. But I’m probably not the person to ask–I’m always leaving things slightly ajar.’ “


For some reason I picked up the second volume of Anthony Burgess’s autobiography, “You’ve Had Your Time” and started rereading it last night. I had forgotten how excellently this guy writes. He has a prose style and a vocab that never fails to grab me and keep me thinking and looking up words. I was looking in the back of the book at notes I have made previously on this book. They indicate that this is probably the fourth time I have looked at the book and read in it extensively. Mostly I note words he useand jot down their definitions. 

words like





I count 14 words from my first reading, 5 from a second start and 1 more from a third. This time I am also making a list of books he mentions to check out: “Mr Noon” by D.H. Lawrence and Auto da Fe by Elias Canetti.

& FWIW, here are a few links from yesterday:

free103point9 A cool online streaming station of sounds made by transmission artists. I’m not sure what a “transmission artist” is but I listened to this station quite a while yesterday and it had fascinating recordings many of which reminded me of my beloved “Hymnen” by Stockhausen.

Deportation and Due Process…. an editorial in Friday’s NYT that reveals that the former Attorney General Mukasey “…ruled that immigrants have no constitutional right to effective legal representation in deportation hearings. As a result, immigrants who lose their deportation hearings because their lawyer did a bad job representing their case have no right to have their case reopened.” This sort of injustice makes me crazy. 

And Frank Rich’s article in yesterday’s NYT, “They Sure Showed that Obama” in which he wryly points out that the New Deal that the Congressional Republicans insist didn’t help also threw a bunch of opponents of it out of office in the next election. Heh.

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