Switching Calendars

Such a wet, dreary day.  Yesterday, a calendar arrived in the mail from Australia.  It was from Jeanette R, who self has known since grade school.  Jeanette went to the University of the Philippines, married a fellow student, then emigrated with him to Australia.  She’s been teaching in the University of New South Wales for decades. Every year, for the past 20 years — maybe more — a calendar comes from Australia.  Beautiful, gorgeous calendars.

Self has never been to Australia.  Perhaps she should put that on her bucket list for 2012.

Self already has a 2012 calendar:  she bought this one months ago (because it was on sale — bwah, ha, ha!)  The calendar she bought was a calendar of Zen Buddhist sayings such as:

  • When we are trying to be active and special and to accomplish something, we cannot express ourselves.  Small self will be expressed, but big self will not appear from the emptiness.  From the emptiness only great self appears (February 2012)
  • To open your innate nature and to feel something from the bottom of your heart, it is necessary to remain silent. (March 2012)

The Australian calendar has very little by way of description, just the photographs themselves with one-line captions:  The Usual Suspects on the Monaro Plain (a photograph of great, big, woolly sheep — or are those rams?); Pastoral country near Bowraville; St. Savious’s Cathedral, Goulburn (The camera angle, the sky, the church — this photograph  is spectacular); Tulip Top Gardens on the Old Federal Highway; Camel Rock near Bermagui; Campbell Rhododendron Gardens, Blackheath.

Australian holidays and other special days are marked:

  • Australia Day (First Fleet arrives at Sydney Cove, 1788):  January 26
  • Queen Elizabeth II born (1926):  April 21
  • Cook lands at Botany Bay (1770):  April 29
  • Father’s Day:  September 2
  • Armistice Day (1918):  November 11
  • Boxing Day:  December 26

What an interesting calendar!

On the other hand, referring back to the Zen Buddhist calendar, days not marked on the Australian calendar are:

  • Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon (January 23)
  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)
  • Groundhog Day (February 2)
  • Mardi Gras (February 21)
  • Tax Day (April 17)
  • Arbor Day (April 27)
  • Annual Solar Eclipse (May 20) —  Mis-spelled as “Annular Solar Eclipse”
  • Ascension of Baha’u’llah (May 29)
  • World Environment Day (June 5)
  • Flag Day (June 14)
  • World Refugee Day (June 20)
  • Dalai Lama’s Birthday (July 6)
  • Ramadan Begins (July 20)
  • International Literacy Day (September 8)
  • Grandparents Day (September 9)
  • International Day of Peace (September 21)
  • Moon Festival (September 29)
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday (October 2)
  • United Nations Day (October 24)
  • Election Day (November 6)
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7)
  • Human Rights Day (December 10)
  • Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)

Hmmm, perhaps self will stick to the Zen Buddhist calendar after all.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

On Journeys

A new year is about to begin.

This new year will find self in India (New Delhi, Udaipur, Mumbai, and many many other places), Washington DC, Bacolod (of course)  …  oh, 2012 will be a lovely year.

Today, self was on the phone to Drew, who was on a bus heading back to New York City after spending Christmas with his parents in the family home in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  (Self thinks of Drew as being so New York.  She has a hard time picturing him in Yellow Springs.  She’d love to see Drew’s home some day.  Life is constantly amazing!)

Today, one of self’s aunts (on Dearest Mum’s side) was laid to rest, and self could not attend the funeral service.  But she is pretty sure it was this aunt who blew in the front door and sent all the Christmas cards flying off the wall where self had taped them, over a week ago.  Something came in self’s home that day, and never left.  But it is not a bad thing.  Self feels a strange comfort.

Today, self began reading the latest bulletin from the Stanford English Department.  Self was musing that she is almost invisible to Creative Writing, but her work has found a firm home in the Feminist Studies Program.  She is visiting a Feminist Studies class (for the third time) at the end of February.

Self also received a missive from Vagabondage Press, who will be publishing her novella in 2012.  Can you have the manuscript ready by early February?

To which self could only utter a silent scream:  ##@@!!!!!!!!!

Pause.

@@!!##@@!!!!!

On p. 5 of the Stanford English Dept. news bulletin is the address by a new Ph.D. grad, Jennifer Harford Vargas.  Self reads the entire address and finds herself very moved.  Here are some salient quotes:

Graduate school, we have discovered, requires a great deal of esperanza.  There is no word in English that captures the dual meaning of this Spanish word.  Esperar means both to wait and to hope.  We have spent 6, 7, 8 years in graduate school waiting patiently and hopefully for the day we finished our dissertations and became PhDs.  We did not do so passively though.  For difficult thinking requires lots of time.

*     *     *     *

John Steinbeck once wrote, “We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”  Similarly, we find after years of struggle that we do not complete graduate school; graduate school completes us.

*     *     *     *

At the end of Sandra Cisneros’s novel The House on Mango Street, the narrator Esperanza imagines her escape from the inner city streets in which she grew up:  “One day I will pack my bags of books and paper.  One day I will say goodbye to Mango.  I am too strong for her to keep me here forever.  One day I will go away.  Friends and neighbors will say, What happened to that Esperanza?  Where did she go with all those books and paper?  Why did she march so far away?  They will not know I have gone away to come back.  For the ones I left behind.  For the ones who cannot out.”

And self is so moved because that perfectly sums up her feelings about Bacolod.  Why else would she have returned, four times in one year?  The first time (in almost two years) was in December 2010.  She returned three weeks later, in January 2011.  Then, for two weeks in July 2011.  The last trip was September – October 2011.  Husband was too stunned to offer a peep, and son was stoic and also distracted by the start of graduate school.  Meanwhile, her Bacolod relatives looked at her and remembered the five or six-year-old girl self had once been.  They, too, had wondered, what had become of self?  Now they had their answer:  Self became a writer!  A crazy person, who values books more than money!

When self calls L’Fisher to tell them she is coming again, they seem to have been expecting her call.  That is, they seem to recognize her voice (ha ha ha!).  She knows they recognize her even before she says her name.  What is it —  a tone?  A pitch?  Who knows.

Here’s another reason to cheer the beginning of 2012:  Season 3 of “Justified” begins January 17.  Until that date, feast your eyes on the Mother of All Sheriffs, the Big O himself.

Stay tuned.

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