Thursday, December 31, 2009

From a third floor room with a view in London's Bloomsbury

In London.  Almost didn't make it through passport controls this morning because of a public school issue/miscommunication...but because the officer said to her boss (thinking me out of earshot), "This young woman is very very nice, can't we just bend the rules a bit to make it work?" Voila!  I've been issued a class two visa & Naya a class one.  Which means we've just become British citizens....kidding!

After a three hour nap of deepest sweetest sleep, we're about to trek down to the South Embankment of the Thames for the festivities.  The streets will be closed for New Year's Eve from 6pm to 5am, so London will be a pedestrian city.  There are flowers blooming in the window boxes here & green grass & leaves on the bushes.  A coat without gloves or hat is just about right.  Blue sky coming through the clouds, no rain today.

I feel like I'm cheating so far--we just went into a store to buy batteries for Naya's camera & a little chocolate at another shop & I find myself surprised repeatedly that everyone speaks English.  Whenever we take these out of country expeditions, I've just realized, it has always been to a non-anglo zone.

Everyone we've interacted with or sat next to so far seems to have this secret smile.  They all look happy & somehow like they are amused by us.  It's a bit like the first pages of Harry Potter when the magic starts infiltrating the muggle world.  It feels very small town & like people are wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

I know I am.  Though I'm feeling like a doe from the Whitefish range released in London, simply relying on my kind eyes to help me find my way, hoping they don't mind four-leggers on the tube & in the pubs, the transition is going well.  I am tired.  I am still unsure as to whether it would feel better to be here or home...but I can feel an equilibrium starting to occur.  Beautiful mammalian adaptation skills at work!

Happy New Year my friends.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, Ciaccona

by Sabine Brigette

I played
Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor, Ciaccona
to allure myself
as I drove to your house
away from noticing
wanting again
Oh, Ciaccona
along my ribs
only made it worse
when you said
the words you did
that maybe
this was
Oh, Ciaccona,
No. 2
hold me up
before what he is
reaches beneath my ribs
D Minor
hold your own
horse hair on silver
sew quickly the gaps that remain
but Ciaccona
off like a scarf carelessly put
before the pauses
of quiet breath
that no determined genius
no symmetrical sound
no mathematical string and needle
could keep me from noticing
that now I
want only
to call you
I wrote this a few months back with its main point being to question trepidation over determined gaze & timing.  Warding off attachments and pull, anything that might distract from this determined arc to Oxford seemed at some point worth investing thought into.  But today, as is my perpetual pattern, I fall back without looking, into sweet emotion & into my warm embedment in this place of Whitefish....& yet the determined gaze double helixes with deep feeling beautifully.  So that now I want only to call this beautiful human range of being, Ciaccona, as I board the plane.  Listen to song no. 5 (the Ciaccona of the partita) if you get a cd in the mail from me.  & please, dear friends, tell me of your own ciacconas.  I can only hope that life will always be so richly tugging as it feels right now & I'd love to hear of the ways in which yours are.

Monday, December 21, 2009

9 days out

Awoke again from the now recurring dream where the plane is leaving in 40 minutes and we're still at home packing with no near end in sight.  Packing things like tupperware and loaves of bread & it seems I have no rational sense whatsoever.

Upon waking, as if speaking kindly to a child, I remind myself of the things that I am excited about there to ease myself into letting go of here:

In ten days I will be sleeping in Virginia Woolf's neighborhood instead of in my own.  In eleven days I'll see Oxford for the first time from a train window.  In thirteen days I'll be attending a different Unitarian Church in a building from 1000 c.e. and then in the afternoon Jack & the Beanstalk with Naya at the Oxford Playhouse.  In fourteen days...

... & of course, in 129 days we'll be flying back to these mountains, it will be dark, the stars will be out, and I will step off the plane and smell spring and mountains, and we will arrive home to give our big fluffy puppy a hug & I will sleep in my own bed again & have dreams, perhaps of the time in Oxford.  & perhaps they will be recurring & lovely.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paris on the mind

Today I awake to thoughts of the proximity of Paris, the steaming Gare du Nord and nearby Hauptbahnhoffs, choquettes in a bag each morning, Baden-Baden just a day trip, running along the Seine & the Thames, the novel pregnant for want of being in the places of my Oma, the sounds of Christ Church, British accents like honey in my earl grey, and seeing the look in the eyes of all the people I'm about to meet or sit across from or walk past or overhear.

Today  I awake and feel my first rush of what is about to be.  I am ready to go to Europe as of now.  & can't even believe this moment that I get to just be there embedded in it for the entirety of winter.  Eleven short days.  It's a bit like coming home.  That is, I feel like I'm packing to go home.  Clearing off old photos from the camera's memory sticks I gazed at photos of the last trip with Naya in Hechingen, Baden-Baden, Paris, Innsbruck, Rome, Sicily.  The stuff in the suitcases is making me starry-eyed to realize it is my stuff--Brunhild's watercolor sets from Berlin, the red leather journal from last time with half the pages left for this trip, six Woolf books with her apathetically passionate face staring out from my suitcase & Hardy beneath her, my umbrella with the Paris metro map printed across it (found at the Whitefish thrift store of all things), train tickets to Oxford, pillow cases, fineries, wool, passports, heels, my German & French study books...

I am many things, but this morning I feel like Brunhild's granddaughter coming home.  She never wanted to leave, but it seemed her best option at the time.  & now, going back to that ever-tugging continent seems  my best option at this very time.  & my sense of place shifts yet again.  Sigh.  This is a very beautiful life, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assigned to walk the halls Lewis Carroll, Einstein, & Harry Potter have walked

This morning, word from Oxford that I have been assigned to Christ Church College among Oxford University's 30 "colleges." And further joy ensues because this is the one I wanted.  

They are known for their literary scholars & literature focus with a library filled with original manuscripts & 160,000 books second only to the Bodleian library of Oxford proper.  Lewis Carroll (actual name Charles Dodgson), John Locke, Einstein, and others we've all known of & read the works of studied and taught here.  Looking through the images & descriptions of Christ Church, come to find out, this is where Harry Potter was filmed--the dining hall is utterly grand & I am "required" to eat there each evening at one of the two times dinner is served in formal dress.  Allowed to bring a 9 year old side-kick to dinner--if she dresses pretty?--don't know yet.  

The buildings & grounds are beautiful & grand, completed in 1532.  It is the closest "college" to Naya's school and our house.  They have the famous Christ Church Cathedral Choir which is being aired on the BBC Dec. 20/21 for Christmas.  They have their own punts, sporting grounds/complex, meadows, rivers passing by, original Michelangelo, Leonardo Davinci, Durer, Raphael, Rubens, Tintoretto, Carracci, and Filipinno Lippi paintings and drawings.  Ay, me.

Feeling very glad for those fineries & heels recently purchased for this endeavour...the ones that mostly get left in the closet while I am in Whitefish, left behind for fleece, goretex, and polypropylene (which I adore when on the side of a mountain, don't get me wrong).  But soon silk, wool, lace, and prettiness will be my daily dress.  You'll think me daft & silly but heels under flying buttress hallways on marble--love that sound.  Feeling very glad too for my insatiable drive this year with my studies & my leaning into the manic hours of overachievement--I feel sure that these heels and this exacting gaze will serve to offer me further fervor for life in the hallways, aisles,  & rooms of Christchurch. 

I humbly, most gracefully accept the offer of admission.  (Insert deep Elizabethan-style bow here.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

We know what we are, but know not what we may be. --Shakespeare

(Photo is of my favorite statue at the Louvre)

Today, 28 days out, all of these doors I've knocked upon & have had unexpectedly opened seem a bit large, ornate, and cause me to peer up at them like some mousey type as if to say, "Oh, um...I was, seeing if the door would open when I knocked, that's all.  Well, then, have a nice evening!" as I high tail it back to familiarity.  

I find that I am reminding myself often the last few days of the last time we went to Europe.  Then too I had this unexpected waffling occur--trepidation over seeing more of the world is no welcomed lover at the midnight door for me--me who jaunted off to Bangkok with a 3 year old with no hesitation, me who has insisted on climbing peaks through lightening storms, me who burns the candle at both ends insatiably, et cetera. Yet, the night before the last trip I was all too happy to give someone else my ticket and intertwine endearingly with complacency, but I boarded as if a character in a script that had to.  Then five weeks later I cried all the way home on the airplane because...well, by then the Hauptbahnhoffs had become my familiarity & choquettes & I didn't feel up for the severing of new tendrils that by then preferred European soil & took some weeks to recover from the transplantation shock.

And here I am again, as if it is the night before some rough, ill-skilled gardener arrives with a bigger pot, with my roots reaching down low to make it through the winter.  It certainly isn't anything words can detail very well, what this trepidation is.  Perhaps to rely on Frost & Shakespeare for a moment comes closest to revealing what it is--"Yet knowing how way leads on to way,/I doubted if I should ever come back"--not to say that I won't physically return to Whitefish, but the underlying consequence of way leading onto way is certainly pressing and tangible in ways other than physicality--"We know what we are, but know not what we may be"--that resembles it most closely.  Certainly the walking through doors or down paths results in everything being different than it would have, including most of all, one's self.  & at this moment I like this self very much & so perhaps grieve that her time is coming to a close as way leads onto inner way.  For this reason four months is no longer just four is 120 days of way leading onto way.  For all of us really, yes?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Naya's School in Oxford

The second half of Naya's third grade year will be at a primary school in Oxford.  By their way of divising things, she'll be labeled a 4th grader & will be in Ms. Christensen's combined 3rd and 4th grade class.  Super tiny school despite Oxford's 100,000 people & it looks like it'll be a good nest for her to land in.  You can check out their website with a guided audio/visual tour with great accents at:

Naya wants me to tell you all that she is nervous about making new friends & excited about hearing people with different accents, seeing our new house, and walking past swans every day.  & of course there are choquettes for the month of April in Paris to look forward to...and Eurodisney!

Our house in Oxford

Just secured a small room in what looks from across the Atlantic to be a nice house, nice neighborhood, three blocks from Naya's school in Oxford.  

Letters, handwriting, and knocks on doors always preferred to email & texts! 

Naya's school is on Vicarage Road.  See pictures & satellite map of the house here:
We're paying over twice the amount of our Whitefish mortgage for one double bed and to be roommates with three Oxford grad students.  Though we do get to walk past swans in a lake on the walk to school.  Cheers to the Great British Pound.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Six weeks until departure

Today I have in hand the deposit from Ladybug's nanny who will watch her while we are away, two tickets from Kalispell to London on December 30th, a reservation at a B & B in Bloomsbury (Woolfie's stomping ground) on New Year's Eve, complete with full English spread in the morning (beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and eggs all in one god-awful heap), two train tickets from London's Paddington station direct to Oxford on New Year's Day at 2pm.  It surely is happening now!