Monday, November 14, 2011

Cocktails and Sketch Studies

I’m writing this from 30,000 feet on the plane home from San Francisco where I attended the national meeting of the American Musicological Society.—a musicological mini camp.   Instead of campfires we have heady evening sessions.  And instead of roasting marshmallows we roast each other over wine and cheese.  In San Francisco dining options included boutique cocktails with bricks of ice and pieces of Ginger.  This was of course all that much more delicious thanks to menus that described in great detail the provenance of every morsel consumed in a restaurant—the cow named Clifford who lived on a farm in Napa, the apple that grows only in the valley and was picked a mere thirty two hours ago etc..

The weekend once again reminded that the China summer is the gift that keeps on giving.  On the plus side even though the plane was delayed on the runway for 90 minutes because they parking break was stuck and they needed to get it a new one the trip feels easy. The more delightful continuing effect centers around the boils that occasionally sprout up on one of us.  Yes I do mean boils in the Passover ten plagues sense of the word.  Eli had one on his butt last week, which caused him some pain but did give him essentially unlimited license to talk about butts, a favorite topic of five-year-old boys.  Manuel’s unfortunately was in a slightly more vulnerable spot—the armpit.  It required surgical lancing and a narcotic painkiller that was so strong that he mistook his hospital bed for a swimming pool. Soon we will need to begin a process of decontamination and decolonization. This begins apparently with bathing the children in diluted Clorox.   In other gross echoes of the jungle have a bit of pathological dishpan hands from washing things in non-potable water.  But this can be turned into a fashion statement by replacing rings with spider man Band-Aids. The boils provide great cocktail party conversation and my friends Nathan and Cynthia whom I had not seen in FIVE years were especially delighted to hear and see all of the gory details.  I even showed them pictures of the boil on my hip/muffin top, which is not a place a twin mother shares with many people.

The other benefit to me of the summer centers on domestic calculus.  I feel that three months in a third world country in which I made bread every day and did not spend more than two hours away from my precious offspring gives me a kind of carte blanche travel freedom for at least a decade.  This is similar to my attitude towards changing yucky diapers which amounted basically too “I birthed and nursed them you do the other gross stuff.” The fantasy of cashing in on this particular family debt centered on spas with lady friends and time in urban centers around the world.  Needless to say the combo of my grandmother dying and needing to go to an extra conference this fall didn’t measure up to those sultry daydreams.  But I did have a fabulous extra day in Berkeley recovering from the American Musicological Society.  The children unfortunately seem to have completely forgotten the summer of love/attachment parenting and simply want to know why I travel so much, how I could possibly miss the sock hop, piano recital and two soccer games, and why they could not come with me.  By all accounts Rebecca rocked Spanish Dance.  Her teacher reports that he suggested she work on getting some height in her chords to produce a big sound.  She apparently got the hands way off the keyboard and “loved the drama and got a little bit of sound of the instrument too…”At this point she’s all drama and gesture and not much content.  In asking her about the recital I was careful to ask at last four times if she had fun before asking how she played. He would like her to progress faster in her weekly lessons which translates to “hey you’re a pianist why can’t your kid get a little more done here…..”

I’ll be home for two days before setting off for the Society for Ethnomusicology.  I’m planning comparative fashion ethnography of the two societies building on the fine work of three of our graduate students.  I always give my graduate students various writing assignments and ethnographic tasks around national meetings.  A few years ago a particularly dynamic threesome turned in a stunning ethno-sartorial study of the AMS.  While I’m quite certain that I possess neither their style nor their critical eye I’ll do my best to report. My hunch is a lot less suits and definitely no Republican frocks.

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