De morte, Carminibus Buranibus, alumnibus, lingua Latina, et rebus aliis…

So, in a classic turn of events, I am swamped with work at the end of the quarter. I’ve already finished one of the four papers due next week (ESP 171: on pavement and runoff and pervious pavement and other such blasphemies), and I have moved on to Latin.

Yesterday I spent the day running errands, voting at the MU polling station, and reading Norman Maclean’s Young Men and Fire. Thirteen smokejumpers about my age died in a wildfire in 1949, in Mann Gulch, Montana. The book is about their last day, and the author’s efforts to find out exactly what happened. It’s a bit like James Lovell’s Lost Moon, but instead of spaceships going Boom! it’s a firestorm overtaking men in a race for their lives. This alone doesn’t disturb me; I rather enjoy this sort of sleuthing. I think what bothers me is how close it came after Angelina’s death, when I was contemplating such morbid things. The author often went back and asked “what happened? What was going through their minds?” of both the dead and the living. He actually expored this at one point; what they remember thinking during the last race to the top of the ridge where they died, reconstructing it from what the survivors remembered. Jesus asking “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” and these young men asking “am I to be struck down right now, before I’ve lived?” … reading it, I had to take several breaths between each line, which is NOT something I naturally do while reading.

So anyway, last night was a little psychologically edgy even before I went to the Carmina Burana rehearsal. My fellow altos and I spent an hour and a half sitting there while the orchestra and soloists and male singers got run through all their movements, jumping around and stopping mid-bar for Jeffrey to express his disappointment at the lack of volume or timing or tone or whatever. At least we’ve got an excellent baritone soloist! We’ve decided that he should be cast as Gaston from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Half the choir now has a crush on him, or at least on his voice. Our soprano soloist is equally awesome. She’s shorter than me and has a speaking voice that I can only describe as cute. It’s like a cheerleader, only without the squeak. Anyway, she caught us all off-guard with her clarity and power (insert music critic here). I’m not as fond of the tenor, but then, I never am. Ah well, some of you will hear it live, and others on the DVD next fall, so I’ll leave it there for now.

Today, I showed up to the Music building at noon to help Jeffrey and Fawzi prepare for the invasion of alumni. Choir at the Music building feels dichotomous somehow; I know I fit in well with the choir, but I don’t feel quite at home in the Music department. I know what I’m doing when I’m singing in an ensemble. I have a massive inferiority complex about being around ‘real musicians’ though. Hell, maybe I should go get a second degree in music. I know after this weekend, I’ll be desperate to keep singing. But it always goes this way…

Anyway, I established myself as the queen of stuffing envelopes (w00t for 4-H training and the Ford Method — get an assembly line going!) and logistical organization. I felt at home with my fellow hosts. I just want to be on an equal level with musical experience and knowledge. Pfff. At least I have the opportunity to stay involved once a year with this group through the alumni concerts. I’ll just have to join another choir in the area.

So, now I’m working on my Latin paper. I’ve gone as far as I feel like going with Latin. I’m comfortable with simply being able to translate; I’m not a huge fan of analyzing each little word and studying the meter and feet of each line… I’m more interested in what the stories say, or could say, rather than the precise way that they’re structured and composed. I have a command of the language but no desire to study it any more deeply. Perhaps now I’ll get around (back?) to Spanish or some other Romance language…

By the way, I’ve found that for useless literature papers I default to the “find good blocks of quotes, then write around them” and “when in doubt, analyze the role of women in the work” if there’s no other topic that excites me. That’s pretty much what I’m doing for Plautus and Latin papers. For McLean, though, I think I’ll focus on the Maclean book (now, see if that confuses you) ’cause it’s been resonating with me. He’ll accept that, too, since he prefers our thoughts over the usual semantics of traditional criticism.

Now, back to work.

~ by jackelopette on June 2, 2006.

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