I am writing this letter because it felt strange to leave without saying goodbye. I want you to know that it is not because of anything you did or did not do, but simply because it is time to move on.
I will always carry a part of you with me wherever I go. I have only the greatest respect for you and I have been forever changed by knowing you.
I hope that you will not be angry with me, although I accept that you will need to deal with this in your own way. You may not even notice that I am gone. I still can’t help but hope that you are sending me off with a happy heart and wishes for safe travels.
Even though I am leaving, this is my wish for you as well. It is my sincere hope that we will both spread our wings, shake our flippers, and otherwise move out into the world. I believe that out there we can grow and change, and that one day maybe we can even cross paths again. I hope that when we do, we will see a glimmer of our old selves and fall in love all over again.
Perhaps I am overly sentimental about everything.
At any rate, the time has come. Goodbye, dear friend, my sweet love. I am, as always, wishing you well.
while i was doing yoga today, i realized how much i hate finishing books. or rather, how i just avoid doing it. it is not malicious or purposeful, but it is a pattern. i reference back to my post Focusing on Awareness of Reading and Writing. funny enough i was thinking about this last June 13, 2012. i am even thinking about this on a yearly cycle pattern!
but i was reminded of all this when i saw this post on Twitter from one of my new favorites Maria Popova @brainpicker: “What Turing, whom we owe much of our daily lives and who died on this day in 1954, checked out of his school library http://j.mp/x8wPhH.” as a big proponent of combinatorial creativity, Popova writes, “the selection features some wonderful wildcards that bespeak the cross-disciplinary curiosity fundamental to true innovation.”
so i started to think about my own list, some of which has changed, but i can really only rejoice in having finished one of those six books (and only one of three audio books) from the last list. so my new active list is as follows:
- 1Q84 by Murakami (same)
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
- An Introduction to Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki
- Entangled: Technology and the Transformation of Performance by Chris Salter
- Nothing and Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde: 1942 – 1962 by Ellen Pearlman
- The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (for the second time)
- the latest issue of Wired Magazine
- the chapters in my Japanese textbook that i never read (for shame)
so while i was doing yoga, i asked myself, “why is that?” and “ow, my shoulders and hips are so tense. why???” after releasing some of this tension into my yoga mat, i still hadn’t figured out why i don’t finish books, but it did become clear that it is a block of mine. much like writing this blog post has been.
and then i realized that i am doing the same exact thing. instead of refusing to read the end of a story, i am refusing to write one!
you see, for quite some time (since, er, March?), i had been meaning to write a final post about the event of a thread. of course my MFA thesis came along and took over my entire focus. and then i had this nagging feeling/burning desire to write a piece about the culmination of grad school, but then i had to move myself and my cats out of Brooklyn. oh yeah, and then i broke out into flesh-eating hives that itched so badly that i couldn’t sleep (let alone sit down to calmly process the past two years). and then i came home to my parents’ house once again to recover some sense of inner peace. after these three days of detox and despite a massive allergy attack, i realized that there are no more excuses. it’s raining out, so i can’t go anywhere except onto the page. and the entire house—all three people and four animals—are all quietly allowing for this to happen.
so i realized that i started the Lobsterbird Chronicles loosely based on a grad school assignment, and at the end of grad school, the first chronicle needs to end. and i don’t have to be scared. i toiled over naming this blog the “Chronicle” vs. the “Chronicles.” this will be one of many because of that decision. and i have less of a problem finishing a book when i know there are more in the series.
so after a brief Sumi Sandwich detour, here goes the last chapter of the story:
Finding My Voice
January 6th 2013 was the final event of a thread. after the last singer sang, and the final pigeon flew, the doors closed to the public and a new energy permeated the space.
an intimate gathering was arranged for this closing night—one last chance to have a swing, hug a kindred spirit, or have a glass of champagne to toast the tremendous success of the event. naturally we encouraged Ann to say a few words. Ann, ever-humble, looked out at us and backed by a great depth of thought and emotion said, “Tonight is…complicated.” using her words articulately and efficiently she expressed that it was through the collective efforts of everyone involved that this piece came to life; its success was a result of the generosity of spirit of everyone who dedicated their energy to this gift.
“As is the case with any other circulation of gifts, the commerce of art draws each of its participants into a wider self. The creative spirit moves in a body or ego larger than that of any single person. Works of art are drawn from, and their bestowal nourishes, those parts of our being that are not entirely personal, parts that derive from nature, from the group and the race, from history and tradition, and from the spiritual world. In the realized gifts of the gifted we may taste that zoë-life which shall not perish even though each of us, and each generation, shall perish.”
– Lewis Hyde, The Gift –
it is my belief that anything worth doing or being is inherently complicated. everything is full of paradox. within each one of us exists both good and bad, darkness and light, challenge and ease, failures and success. for every quality, there is an anti-quality. what we create cannot escape this fundamental nature. and it is through our relationships with nature itself, with each other, with technology, and with the things we create, that this inherent complexity of our being is reflected back to us.
and so what i learned from Ann and the event of a thread is that how we choose to deal with reconciling this complexity determines the quality of what we create, and even the kind of lives we can choose to live. with this spirit and with a new understanding of creating art as a gift, i set back to work on my thesis.
but before i attempt to encapsulate my thesis experience, one last anecdote from the event of a thread:
on my second to last event, i crossed paths with Jeremy Pickard, a fellow reader and a long-time friend and collaborator through SITI Company. before we parted ways, he mentioned a video that was circulating the internet. he said something along the lines of, “Did you see the event of a thread video online? Your voice is in it with GM. It sounds great.”
all of a sudden, an intense feeling of fear washed over me. notably, not the typical response to this kind of news and enthusiasm. i said, “No, I haven’t seen it.” i probably changed the subject but i don’t really remember because the trauma blacked out the conversation after that point. instead, my mind was racing. i don’t think that’s me in the video. it’s happening again?!? the audio was probably Deborah Black—she sounds a little bit like me, doesn’t she? and she was reading with GM that day when we filmed in the morning. the day that they recorded me i wasn’t reading with GM. oh my god, that was so nice of Jeremy to say, but i don’t think it was me. and i didn’t correct him. life is a series of embarrassing repetitions…
and then i went out to do my shift of reading to the pigeons.
when i was little, i was told by a music teacher that i wasn’t very good at singing. i’ve come to find out since then that a lot of little kids are told this and it convinces them that:
A. they are bad singers.
B. they cannot sing.
C. they should stop singing.
for whatever reason, i didn’t succumb to options B or C. i grew up believing that i didn’t have a very good voice, but i kept singing anyway. i sang all throughout grade school (mostly in the general chorus) and finally landed a duet in the 5th grade recital. and then the strangest thing happened.
the day after the recital, everyone’s favorite teacher came to watch our class while our teacher stepped out for a few minutes. he was the teacher that everyone wished they had—a sweet old man with a wicked sense of humor. he sang “the Littlest Worm” song with us. it was totally morbid and hilarious.
The Littlest Worm
tune: Sipping Cider Through a Straw
The littlest worm, (everyone echo)
I ever saw (echo)
Was curled up in (echo)
My soda straw (echo, etc)
The littlest worm I ever saw, was curled up in my soda straw.
He said to me
don’t take a sip
for it you do
I surely slip
He said to me don’t take a sip, for if you do I surely slip.
I took a sip
and he went down
right through my pipes
he must have drowned
I took a sip and he went down, right through my pipes he must have drowned.
He was my pal
he was my friend
but now he’s gone
and that’s the end
He was my pal, he was my friend, but now he’s gone and that’s the end
That is the end
there is no more
until I meet
that worm once more.
That is the end, there is no more, until I meet that worm once more.
and then before that teacher left, he stopped by my desk. he congratulated me on singing the solo in the recital, saying how great my voice was. “That was you, right?” i politely accepted the compliment and said “thank you.”
now, maybe you will notice the discrepancy in my story. i sang the duet, not the solo. the kid sitting next to me sure noticed. he said, “You didn’t sing the solo.” to which i replied, “Well, I sang alone…during the duet.” i knew that was not what he had meant. and i don’t think this incident ever made me feel better about not being a very good singer either.
when i got home that evening from the event of a thread, i was so nervous to find out if, once again, i was being complimented for someone else’s voice. perhaps you can imagine my relief when it really was me being featured in the video. i felt like, in that moment, i had finally found my own voice after years of pretending it was someone else’s.
and grad school really allowed me to use it. a lot. so much, in fact, that i have had a spiritual sore throat ever since graduating. i feel like my thesis was a huge step in the right direction. for more on that leg of the journey, here is a link to an article i co-wrote with artist poet Mike Varley about my thesis, Robot Immigrants, featured on LEIMAY’s network: conectom. i’ve done over 50 pages of writing on my thesis and it is most certainly time to move on.
because almost immediately afterwards, i am off on a trip to a different part of my mind, as poet Varley recently called it. i am off tomorrow to study Japanese full-time for eight weeks! and just like that, i am ending this book. i think that’s why i resist finishing books—because they tend to just end. i usually can’t even remember how books end and so i’m not going to dwell on this one either. instead, i will gear up for my next adventure.
maybe the next one that i write will be in Japanese…