There is one fact I have found in my life to be very central to who I am and what I'm here for. Mountains. I was 16 years old before I saw a mountain, and when I did I felt like a resting metronome. Peaceful, done with a hard day's work. "Found it!" I spent hours taking pictures of graveyards on mountainsides (in North Carolina in the snow). I have never been good at the cold, and thus don't think I really appreciated how much I NEED mountains intermittently until I moved to Spain when I was 22.
Right now listening to a song I can't stop listening to for whatever reason- "Nerves of the Nightmind" by Fronteir Ruckus. It will surely go on my August mix.
Back to mountains. When I was 21 I packed a backpack and went out to explore the place where I spent my preteen years-- Ascot, England. From there I traveled all over Europe with a friend for the summer. I fall in love with languages and this particular summer I became twitterpated with Catalan. (I remain twitterpated, but nothing compares to the lust I feel about words, verbs, sounds when I first fall in love with a language and do not yet speak it).
Segway-- I have always been interested in world markets, capitalism and language. What languages become economically beneficial to speak? What other reasons to languages have for surviving. Catalan was an obvious choice for these reasons, that and it is the most beautiful language I have ever head. I speak Spanish...and hearing a romance language with so much of what I love of Spanish...sound so...French, and in love...floored me.
I came back to the United States from this trip in love with Catalan and determined to learn to speak it. That is a bit difficult in Gainesville, Florida. There was a course in Catalan I, so I enrolled..my love grew...and rather than join the Peace Corps or go straight to graduate school in Development Studies I packed up my things, sold most of it, and moved to Catalonia-- to a mountainous island called Mallorca.
It was there I learned the power that mountains have in my life, and the person I can be when I'm around them. There were nights I talked friends into putting me on the back of their motorbikes...with Chopin's nocturnes blaring in my headphones as performed live by Claudio Arrau...(he wrote some of those IN Mallorca)...I asked them to go as fast as they could, winding..through narrow mountain valleys, around corners, the moon shining brightly on the water.
I had only lived in Kansas, Chicago, and Florida. never around mountains, never around such natural beauty. It became my goal to find this beauty in my country when I moved back.
My research became focused on language activism during the Franco regime (it was illegal to speak Catalan, physical punishment, jail, etc, and yet...the language thrived) and gender. I critiqued existing literature for crediting public activists for the survival of Catalan when clearly only the rich (afford bail) and public figures (read: male at the time) could engage in that activity. To me what language theorists can garner from that epoch is how the everyday decisions of mothers, parents, workers to use and teach their progeny Catalan were deliberated. I can become intensely interested in anything I immerse myself in-- as everything to me is complex. Especially things that seem simple.
I lived there for two years, and found out my father had terminal cancer. My father and I were very, very close. He was given 6 a frightening prognosis and I returned to the United States immediately. I had earned (while there) a degree in language teaching, and gained teaching experience. I found a job as a teacher in Florida, and walked with him through that final stage of life...and as soon as he moved on applied to return to school to pursue my dream-- a PhD. Starting that with high hopes.
I currently have a crush on Quechua and Aymara. I have chosen to pursue words in the former, as Aymara is not spoken as much in the mountains (as is Quechua). The Andes are the mountain chain I currently stalk, but I have plans to travel to just be, write, listen to music, hike in Tennessee if I can find someone else who is interested. I want to fall in love with my country the way I am in love with others.
One huge landmark for me in this quest was my first visit out west (right before I moved back to the US. Big Sur, California changed my life. Listening to the Beach Boys at the Henry Miller Library while reading Tropic of Cancer...waiting a Philip Glass show. Later to walk home along cliffs, waves crashing below..in the dark, huge moon. This is the closest thing I found to racing on motorbikes listening to Chopin in this country thus far. I seek to top it. constantly.
I have a video of some pictures from that summer.
I have so much to respond to in your letter, but need to go on a date with my corgi. sorry if this as not the best response, but you can trust it to be sincere!
oh- we listen to this american life on the hikes. it is great.