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2012 Brooklyn, Portland, Oregon, United States
Prevent and prepare
Down to the wire at work. I had a great day yesterday, but I am still a tiny bit below the line I need to be above. I am thinking of the bumper sticker that says, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” Maybe this is true specifically for war - which I have only engaged with by protesting – but I find myself simultaneously preventing and preparing for other possibilities all the time. The loss of my job, for example. I am trying hard to keep my job, but it seems just as important to have something ready to leap into if I learn this evening or tomorrow morning that I no longer work at the call center. I will look for other jobs, of course, but I might take a trip to the coast while the weather’s fine. And if I am successful at preventing the loss of my job, I could end up on ultimatum every other week. I am thinking of Masahide’s magnificent little poem: “Barn’s burnt down – now I can see the moon.” I wonder whether preparation’s got just the slightest edge over prevention.

2011 Phsar Dey Hoy, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Notes from underground
In a dream I had between the first and second alarms, I was cutting shiny pieces of paper, yearning for more creativity, reminiscing about some conference I had attended, my name on a record of the event, the two parts of my name separated. The yearning for creativity also appeared in a recent dwelling dream. I wonder if this is an itchy reminder that I am recovering from my illness, if more slowly than I would like.
It’s a noisy morning, filled with chanting, some of it seeming artificially-amplified. There were higher voices earlier, in addition to those of the chanters, but they seem to have concluded whatever they were doing. I always used to love whatever sacred sounds I heard in India, just as I always disliked the music, but here it’s the other way around. I love Khmer music, but this chanting serves only to obscure the early-morning silence I love even more than music. Now I hear the high voices again, a slow, tinny sound. Could this be the beginning of the year of the rabbit? It’s officially tomorrow, but maybe they start early here.

2010, Pune, India
Temporary homes
I am back at my friend’s apartment in Pune, where I spent last night in her daughter’s room. Now I have slept in every room in this apartment except the kitchen and the bathroom. Tee hee. Time to go.
Yesterday’s visit to Aurangabad Caves was a double adventure because I never had to buy a ticket. I still got to visit the caves, I just didn’t need to exchange little pieces of paper for other little pieces of paper. I used to think of the Indian English “finished” in reference to tickets as meaning the same as “sold out,” but apparently, and fortuitously, it’s not that simple.

2009 Tarnow, Poland
I have been away in Krakow for two weeks, and a lot seems to have happened here.
I dozed until 6:00, and already the sky is well on its way to light. In Krakow it wasn’t light at this hour, or perhaps I couldn’t tell because of so much ambient city light. The crows are here at 6:30, flocking and landing in the trees across the street considerably earlier than when I left two weeks ago. I wonder if their early arrival is related to dawn’s earlier arrival. I guess we’ll see in the weeks ahead.

2008 Krakow, Poland
Daily Log
Framingham/Krakow Master’s in Education Program
Extra Credit Report in Defense of the Proposition that Overachievement IS Possible thanks to the classmate who suggested that the Daily Log be kept over the weekend
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy awakened at least one class member in the wee hours of Saturday morning. That individual continues to search for other class members who experienced this phenomenon, but while one acknowledged, “I wouldn’t rule it out,” another suggested drug rehabilitation.
The topics of Hooligan Clubs and Seesaw Clubs were broached but never explained in detail.
Questions under consideration: Is our Utopia in decline? Are we slaves to the Collective Penis?
Reported conversation among the boys who did not wish to enter a certain club they described as a “sausage festival” led to a conversation among the girls about how they would describe their genitalia using food. “I wouldn’t want to,” said one class member.
The power of language - “the ‘n’ word,” “the ‘c’ word” as opposed to the words the letters stand for, which we don’t say - was remarked, and Canadian bigotry toward the U.S. explored.
A preview of coming attractions - Animal Noises in Multiple Cultures - was presented and the possible contents of the minds of some of our students - “Our teacher’s talking about her tongue. Now she’s touching it.” - were considered.
Origins of the word “chillaxin” were pondered.
A good time was had by all at the salt mine. Among our discoveries: According to our tour guide, the word “salary” originates from partial payment of salt miners in salt. Instead of the usual salutation, miners acknowledged the constant danger of their work by greeting each other, “God bless you,” - a custom carried on by current salt mine employees - and sang religious songs - we heard a simulation of Salve Regina - on the job. Visitors to the mine are in fact encouraged to lick the walls, which are indeed salty. Salt stalactites must be cut from the ceiling at least annually so as not to put visitors in peril; strangely, they are not sold as souvenirs. Despite the use of the salt mine in colloquial speech to indicate a less than desirable work environment - “Bye honey, I’m off to the salt mine.” - we surmised that the miners considered themselves fortunate because their employment enhanced their economic status: “I’ve got food; you don’t,” as one visitor characterized it. Diners at a nearby restaurant were given small bags of rock salt following their lunch, but the color of the salt indicates that it is not from the mine across the street, but rather from a distant Polish salt mine. (They think we don’t listen to our tour guide?) As for nightlife, Krakow has a mall which is pretty much identical to every other mall, but the presence of Salsa - in dance form - here has yet to be proven, in spite of exhaustive research.

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