Monday, November 5, 2007

I've been gone, I know...

Two weeks ago, I kept writing this brilliant and insightful post, processing my first few interviews and they weren't going up. I kept having to re-write and the shine kept rubbing off with each attempt.

And then last week I was doing some "field work."

But expect updates this week.



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Para mi madre...

On the train, I figured out today that this project is for my mother.

Oh, "Train Sidebar"...I have not regularly taken the train since I moved here 9 years ago and I can't figure it out. I carry too many things. I get on the wrong line, going the wrong direction and I get impatient waiting. I try to park by a stop, but that's not helping, timewise. I will say that it makes me feel really urban though. And connected and small. Observant. I seldom shut up and it makes me scared to be around so many strangers and so I sit and watch and listen and now it makes sense why all those writers and poets and artists draw from the urb for their work. I'll let them to it, because I'm just a visitor...but still. Now I get it. Extraordinary to have stuffed so many people into these containers, yet that's what's ordinary. The exceptional in the quotidian.

Ok, back to my mother.

I went to Best Buy today to buy a fabu digital recorder. I saw Austin Talley there, one of my DePaul students from when I subbed for Carlos Murillo's Solo Performance class. Well, not MY student, but you know what I mean. (Oh, shoot. I never got back to Carlos about subbing this year. I'm such a mess sometimes) Anyway, Austin helped me pick a recorder and we talked shop for a bit. It was a good day. But I was wearing too many oils and perfumes and I could tell he was having trouble breathing by me. I need to tone it down in the morning with the oils and stuff. So then the whole train thing, right? I'm waiting down by the red line on Clybourn and North and looking at my digital recorder. Then my mother comes to my mind. My mother always had a recorder. From the time when they were those big, analog, push numbers. To the smaller ones with the tiny tapes. She's always had one. She records her prayers and incantations and sermons in them. Every morning at 5 or 6am you can hear her in her bathroom playing the tape recorder. And opening my spankin' new digital recorder made me think of her. Only I'm not using it for prayer and meditation. Or to learn English words, as she did for a time. I'm using it to capture my mother, through other women's voices. I think...I don't know, I think this project is for my mother. To find out what I can't ask her. I do ask her, but she wont answer. Maybe strangers will answer.

I don't know if this makes any sense.

My mother's never had a voice. Not at home in Mexico with my overbearing dad, when they were married. And not in seclusion in Texas after their divorce. My mother has been voiceless. She was told to hush up and be a good girl, a good daughter, a good mother, a good wife, but to never speak up. "Calladita te vez mas bonita," she had always been told. And she told me the same. But strangely enough (and to her private joy) I am not quiet. Nor demure. I am not a good girl. Well, a "good girl." Not in the way she was taught. I can't cook or clean or make clothes and knit like she can. Well, I can knit. Scarves. Mi nana Dona Luz taught me that. But I'm not...voiceless. I refuse to be. Or actually, I've never even considered that option. In a way, I'm more like my father; Alpha, entitled, boisterous, invasive, inconsiderate, outgoing, involved.

But my mother is a mystery to me. Even when she seems simple and plain. She is a mystery. The loud ones are always the ones easy to figure out. It's in silence that there's mystery.

So, I'm not going to tell her just yet. But 27 is for her. For her to get to speak up.

Ok, off to translating this questionnaire and getting the legal stuff together for my first interview tonight.

Bolivia. Elmwood.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I played a little hooky, but are making up for it

Ok, so I played hooky a little bit today. I had a production meeting at Steppenwolf for a reading of my play that's included in the Chicago Humanities Festival, Acts of Concern Program. And when I was coming out with Ed Sobel, I saw Lydia Diamond walking on the street and instantly attacked her with love. She glows. I love people who glow. So she was meeting Hallie for lunch across the street and guess who tagged along? Yo misma. I mean, I was going there to pick up something to eat anyway before heading for the institute. And then at lunch they invited me to sit it in a Harriot Jacob workshop. And I couldn't refuse. A slave narrative. The only surviving, or only one ever written by a young slave girl which Lydia adapted from the novel. Very powerful. Lydia's very talented.

And so my guilt (and my Liberty...what a hypocrite I am with that gas guzzler. And here I'm writing plays about global warming) drove me to the institute y me puse las pilas y dije, "ahora tengo que recuperar el tiempo perdido." And I think I did; I scored my second interview:

BELIZE-Roger's Park. On Sunday at 2pm. "After church," she said. I was taken aback by Mrs. Belize's melodic accent. Her deep, rich voice. So kind and motherly. She was so willing to lend a hand even though she had no idea what I was talking about. I'm already bad at explaining things, and an "out of the blue" phone call must add to the confusion. But she seemed kind and willing and I'm seeing her on Sunday. She is a friend's mother and I'm so glad he put us in contact.

So, so far I've got me:

1) BOLIVIA-Elmwood. On Thurday at 7pm. Meeting her at Triton College. She saw my notice on MYSPACE or AOL and replied. She seemed very eager to "represent her country" and she was very patient with me for two months while I got my act together.

2) BELIZE-Roger's Park. On Sunday. Meloflous voice and lullaby accent.

3)EL SALVADOR-Chicago. On Monday, bright and early at 8am at her house on Oliva street. I need to google that. Sra. Salvador was extremely kind and accommodating when I had to reschedule because of my own scheduling snafu. Her little dog was sick, but she was willing to see me today. So accommodating. She is also a friend's mother and he's told her a little bit about the project. She swallowed her R's and S's in the most harmonious way.

I might fall in love with all these accents once I'm done.

See? The day was not wasted. I booked three. Now I just have to translate the questionnaire and buy myself that recorder!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It begins...

I was nervous about starting my fellowship last night. And the way I handled that, was by avoiding the TO DO list I had to complete before my morning meeting. Seriously. I just hung out with a boy and avoided. Reminds me of that LUNATICAS song " How the Modern Girl Deals"

Avoid, ignore, procrastinate, smoke more. This is how the modern girl deals.

It's ok. It all worked out. Jane and company were fabulously supportive and reminded me that I shouldn't be disappointed if I don't get to all 27 interviews in the month long stay here at the Institute. It's just fire under So this is good. It's Godsend. God, part of me is really digging having to come to a neutral place-away from my home or the Starbucks-to work on a project. What a luxury. Seriously Que lujo.

Today I mostly set up the office for myself. Cleared some clutter and put up some posters they had framed, up. It's looking good in here. All these women's energies are so amazing. It's addicting. It make syou want to work. Sheree, the fierce grad student and writer from Florida, who is helping me with research, is amazing. I already feel like I've known her forever. She seems to be on top of her game. Kelly-besides having the most beautiful face you've ever seen-just vibrates goodness. She's luminous and it helps. Right when I want to go on MYSPACE or Facebook (my addictions) looking out the window, watching her work, helps. And Jane. Bueno, Jane is like a force. When I grow up I want to be like Jane. Que mujer. De veras.

Ok, enough of describing the office. I booked my first interview today. I scheduled it for Thursday in Elmwood or something. Triton college. Con una Boliviana. I must finish translating this questinnaire since the interview will be done in Spanish.

I'm excited.

This is going. It's really happening. Ojala y aproveche!