Block 163: August 6, 2013



I’m running behind today.

Ooops; I’m just re-shuffling the schedule a bit!

Date: August 6, 2013

Crane: 163

Days Spent on Project: 170

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Profesora McEwan.

I had taken four years of Spanish in high school; while that certainly qualified me to be “comfortable” with the language, I was in no means fluent or at ease speaking it. When I enrolled for my first year classes at Kenyon, I didn’t want to abandon those four years.

It seemed like a fair amount of effort to brush under the rug. I liked knowing a second language. And who’s to say being able to converse easily in Spanish wouldn’t come in handy later in my life?

(And, living in Washington Heights, it actually does come in handy. Although most people are surprised when I answer questions or respond to comments spoken around me. The elderly grandmothers in my building seem especially intrigued.)

Profesora McEwan was brought on for that one year alone, as one of the  professors at Kenyon was on sabbatical that year. She made the hour drive from Colombus, OH every day in a very old car.

At the time, I didn’t appreciate that.

Our first year class was small. There were maybe a dozen students, and we all had varying degrees of experience with the language. Profesora McEwan insisted on calling us by our Spanish names. She insisted we only converse in the language; even if we were unaware of what we were trying to say, she would wait until we talked our own way into the correct vocabulary and tense.

I liked her. I enjoyed the class. I did take one more year of Spanish but, by the time my junior year come around and my taking a semester to study in London, I made the hard decision that there were too many other classes I wanted to take before leaving college.

I’m no longer able to converse easily in Spanish. I’m sure if I were to practice with my neighbors, it would come back eventually. Eventually.

Profesora McEwan assigned us a final project for the year; we had to write a research paper about a Spanish artist, writer, or prominent figure and then lead the class in a discussion about that person’s work and significance. I chose Picasso and his painting Guernica.

At the completion of the project, McEwan gave me a present- a book called “The Guernica Bull: Studies in the Classical Tradition in the Twentieth Century.” 15 years later, that book is still on my bookshelf.

“Para ti, Artistica Actor, Deseandole Fuerza, Poder e Insipiracion en el Nuevo Ano, y Siempre.”

Music I listened to while sewing: I’m listening to a playlist I made last January when I was guest-teaching and designing a show at Providence College in Rhode Island. That was just 6 months ago, and it seems like I’m worlds away from the person I was then!

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I saw this on Facebook last night, and I think it’s just about perfect.

“Sonder — the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as [one’s] own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.”

How incredibly humbling is that?

And how true?

It’ll be interesting to walk around New York today and think about this. All these people that I brush past on my way to work, to meetings, to shows, to coffee shops, to the gym, and so on have THEIR OWN worlds and their own friends and their own worries and dreams and hopes and concerns and problems and issues and loves and…


So, while I’m thumbing through research for a show that’ll happen in the future at the library and am secretly distracted with worries that one theater company still hasn’t paid me for work I did a month ago and then wondering how long I can stay before I need to go home and walk the dog but then asking myself if I have food for dinner…

Is the guy next to me, thumbing through books on contemporary design and architecture, also thinking about a slew of questions that affect his life?

The world is never as straightforward and simple as it seems.

There are so many stories out there. What’s tragic is that we don’t get to hear enough of them. What’s strangely weird is that so many of the stories seem to be common amongst us.

Think about that today!


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