“I am the first one to arrive at 3054. The door is open so I go in and put my stuff down on the tables. I knew that the tables had to eventually get pushed aside so I moved my share of 5 and sat down to read the towerlight. Janet then came in and I told her that I didn’t want to be there. She agreed and we both sat together in silence. Next was Elizabeth followed by Amanda and then Vinnie. When Vinnie arrived I told him that I hated him and then Barry came to the class.
We scurry to move the tables out of the center of the room and initial net to our names on the attendance sheet. It is time to begin class, so all of us get into a circle ready for ball play. Barry asks “who is the scribe for today” which is followed by an awkward silence. Vinnie volunteers for next Tuesday and I said “Fine, I’ll do it.” I walked back to my stuff to get my notebook to write down the events. Barry commented on my lack of enthusiasm and I informed the class that I am not in the mood to even be here, let alone scribe, and that my life also “sucks”. We all laughed and Barry explained that Siobhan was sick and Josh was lost in the rain.
After the chit chat we began ball play. It began to get hectic with quick tosses and gentle passes after a minute. Barry told me to put my notebook down because it wasn’t that important. I rejoined the circle and Barry passed the ball around with the question of “what are we noticing in Neither Wolf Nor Dog?” Amanda said that she was noticing themes that were based within the repetition. Janet said that she has begun to relate the story back to our class. However Elizabeth is finding that this particular story is getting harder to read without judgment because she is becoming frustrated with the book’s supposed repetitiveness. Dina is also becoming frustrated but is also starting to understand Dan and his actions more. Vinnie said that he enjoys the relationship that has evolved between Dan and Nerburn. Then I said that I was starting to understand Dan and piece together the story.
We stopped playing ball and got our chairs and copies of Neither Wolf Nor Dog. The class put their chairs in a circle and I told them that we couldn’t sit down yet. Janet and Barry’s chairs were clashing with the rest of the classes formation. We all sit down once is was fixed and Barry told us that our assignment for next Thursday was to finish the book with it’s table of contents. Barry takes a moment to collect his thoughts and says that he truing to understand the word repetitive. He says the word does not relate to the book in his opinion. Janet begins to explain that Dan keeps going over the same thing. Elizabeth mentions the parts in the story where Dan mentions the treaties that they were forced to sign and how it is continually brought to Nerburn’s attention. Dina also says that everytime Dan and Nerburn get close Dan repeats another horrible fact and pushes Nerburn away. Barry told Dina that she had brought up a good point. Barry takes a moment and said “Just because you say something doesn’t mean that it’s heard or listened too” and that he understands what the class is talking about but he doesn’t understand because the context continues to shift. Amanda tries to explain that every time they speak Dan would reiterate a point and try to find deeper things. Barry tells us that we aren’t the only class who has thought this way about the book.
Dine then says that she doesn’t know if Danny actually believes what she is saying. Barry asks her to explain more and she said that the way Danny speaks about Indian subjects sounds exactly like the way Dan speaks about them. She thinks that it might be ingrained in her brain and not her actual thoughts. Barry then leaves the circle to go get his version of the book while I have a coughing fit. He says that he brings up this issue because listening is the most difficult thing for us to learn. He said that as a child his father would always tell him that he wasn’t listening and he would become very agitated, and now when Diane tells him that he is not listening he doesn’t understand because that has to be impossible since he teaches a class on it. At this point in the class I really am having trouble concentrating and I can tell that everyone is noticing. The subject shifts to a man who is an expert on the Dali Lama. This man is trying to get people to boycott the Chinese Olympics. Vinnie is bouncing his knee and Liz seems fascinated at her shoe as we wait for Barry to speak. Amanda rubs her eyes and looks at the clock. It was 9:57.
Barry then asks us who is Nerburn to Dan. Dina said that he is his student and Amanda says that he is a brother. Barry urges us to go deeper into their relationship. We struggled to do so, so Barry told us to tell us about Bobby. Dina says that Bobby was Dan’s son who was killed. Barry says that he wasn’t just killed, but he was murdered because he became politically active and asks us to explain more about Bobby. Amanda said that he graduated from Haskell. Dina looks around the class and asks if that was the same school. I nod my head and something clicks in her brain. Dina said that it was an Indian college and Barry tells us that it was out east with his mother where his other brothers and sisters called Bobby Tonto. Bobby was trying to build a bridge between the white culture and the Indian culture. I said that he was literally trying to cross cultures. Amanda said that he was trying to make the bridge a two way street. Barry told us to remember that Dan was always told that he had an eye to see within the two different worlds. He then asks us what is Nerburn trying to do and Amanda says that he wants to bridge the gap. “So who is Nerburn to Dan?” asks Barry. Barry says its his son and said that Dan has always liked Nerburn. Everyone around knows that Dan likes him but it’s more than that because the bond goes deep.
He said that rehearsals are repetitive. Dina said that you can find something different every time. Barry said that you can get bored though and that you have to find something that makes it new and exciting similar to playing ball. So the idea of being repetitive is something that has to do with everything because it’s fundamental. But it’s important to listen deeply because if you are in a rush, repetition can become very boring.
At this point I become very tired and my eyes begin to close. I am jolted back into the conversation with Barry’s question “Why didn’t Dan tell Nerburn the truth about Fatback?” No one answered so Barry called on Vinnie told the class that Dan found Fatback which is not the real answer. Barry told him that he was unprepared and Vinnie admitted that he hadn’t read up to that point yet. I said that Fatback belonged to Bobby and Elizabeth began to explain that Dan didn’t tell him the truth at first because when the question was asked Nerburn hadn’t earned Dan’s trust. Barry says that is exactly what we do because we don’t know everyone that well. There are some loud noises outside.
Barry then told us to tell him about Dan’s moods and why does he go so far with them. Amanda says that Dan gets so involved with what he is talking about that his passion overtakes him. Then Dina and Liz speak at the same time. They decide that Liz will speak first and she mentions that Dan always asks Nerburn “Why do you always have to push?” Dina says that Dan’s passion is fueled by all of his ancestors that he is speaking for. Barry relates the comment to the picture of the bird in the cage that we were discussing in the previous class. Janet comments on this by saying that you always want what you don’t have, so if the bird was in the cage it might just want to be back out. Barry says that it is reminiscent of Shawshank redemption. Dina says that she changed her mind since the last time that we had spoken. Instead of putting the bird in the cage and leaving the door open, she would just open the door. That way the bird could choose what to do. I agreed with Dina but Barry said that there are other choices that could be made. Liz said to get rid of the word freedom and Janet says that the cage acts as a crutch. Barry asks if there are any other choices.
Barry then strays away from his question and tells us that the Americans thought that Indian’s freedom was to train them and to make them planters and plowers and Christian. If you were in a position to help the bird what would you do asked barry. He said that may be we aren’t the bird’s savior and relates it to the concept of Manifest Destiny. Vinnie said that Manifest Destiny was when the U.S. Thought that it was their god-given right to colonize the land from coast to coast. Amanda says that she would find someone who is in the same position as the bird to help. Barry then asks us what kind of bird is it. He says it is a Thai bird so he would get another Thai bird to help. We all laugh.
Barry then segways to a story where he was at a workshop and he presented the picture of the bird in the cage and a women broke down. He went over and asked if he could talk to her. She explained that she had just received a letter from her father back in India and her father had found the man that she was to marry. However she has a white boyfriend and when she asked her friends what to do they all told her to marry her boyfriend here because they thought it was a simple answer. Amanda said that of course it was a simple decision for her friends because they don’t understand her culture. Dina says that it is hard because they are asking her to pick between two loves and either way she loses a family or her current boyfriend. Barry says that it is a catch 22 .
“Do you know anything about Alcoholics Anonymous?” asks Barry. Vinnie said that it was a self help group. Barry said that the meetings are always the same way and that there is not one leader and that no advice is ever given. He says that part of Dan’s anger is because Nerburn is always pushing for him to disclose information but it leads to self destruction. And when Nerburn says the events that happened were not his fault and asks what to do and Dan doesn’t know there is no advice given. Amanda said that everything is unique to each person and that even if they aren’t coming from the same place they can learn from different stories. Dina said that judgment can also be in the advice and if it doesn’t work that you can be told that your ways are wrong. Liz says that if they were to give advice it shows that once person is better than the other. Barry says that it is a force of appropriation and asks us what that word means. I said that I thought that it was relating everything back to one’s own thoughts but Barry corrected me and told me that it was taking over another country without consent.
He then askes what if I don’t give advice, what else is there to do. I said that you can always listen. Barry said that you have to care about their story and mentions the cover of our syllabus where two men are wearing masks that are smiling at each other but their actual heads are turned away meaning that they are not listening to one another. It is possible to listen so deeply that your mind can change.
He then talk s about this Japanese Christian who studied with a Buddhism monk who said that there was nothing more to teach unless if he was willing to convert to Buddhism. He asks if it is possible to listen so deeply that you can change yourself instead of trying to change another person. That is the reason we sit in the circular formation.
There is an extremely long pause that follows the last statement and everyone seems focused on one spot not knowing whether they should speak or wait for Barry to collect his thoughts. “Why didn’t the military accept the ghost Dance?” asked Barry. He explains that it makes no sense because it was their dance to Jesus and the missionaries whole purpose was to convert them. Dina said that they gave them Jesus and just as they had begun to make him their own they took him away. Vinnie said that he had an uncle who was on carlisle and when children would get their, most were usually forced, they were ready to learn, but it was hard because they couldn’t seem to learn without losing their culture. While vinnie explains that the Indian ways weren’t good enough because they weren’t sitting in a church I point to Liz’s scribe paper, and she says that she doesn’t know and we turn back to the conversation. Elizabeth explains that it is hard to find the balance between letting other people change you but not losing your culture. Vinnie says that that itself is the art involved with crossing cultures. When the Buddhist monk said that he wouldn’t teach the Japanese Christian anymore that was destroying cultures because he wasn’t letting him in.
Barry says that acting is the perfect metaphor to crossing cultures.Like the actor you take on another person’s point of view without judgment and become who they are for a time . Then he tells us that while we continue our reading of Neither Wolf Nor Dog notice what the characters hands are doing. As his last remark was said noises in the hallway increase. Barry sits with his head down thinking about something. He perks up and says that we need to keep reading or he will beat the shit out of you, which was directed at Vinnie. I said that I hated Vinnie but I was joking and then someone mentioned that Elizabeth hadn’t read her scribe record. Barry said why didn’t you interrupt me and she said because we all seemed so involved in what we were doing. Barry Destroyed our history!!!! Amanda then left the classroom as I continue to pester vinnie with words of loving hate. Vinnie was really slow getting out of the class room but once he gathered his stuff we left!”—
Yo. I am so sick. It keeps hitting me harder as days pass. I am home now for spring break, and I just saw my mom. She told me I was way too pale and that we are going to the doctor’s tomorrow. So I guess I’ll see what happens. I just want them to give me pills to make me feel better.
ANYWAYS ALEX BUYALOS I WANT TO SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT AND I TOLD NICOLETTE TO COME TOO SO CALL ME IN THE DAY TOMORROW AND IF I DONT FEEL LIKE TOTAL HELL WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING!
I need to talk. I need someone to listen. I want someone to care.
he texted me today. he told me he was thinking about me. WHY? Clearly it fucks with me, and I think he knows it. I really miss him. We got along so wonderfully and still do. I want him here so badly. I want to be with him right now.
but this week is my last week in la la land. Next week is back to work. Electroland, here I come.
glad though. I need it. It grounded me and put everything into perspective.
ugh…my chest feels like someone is pressing down on it. if you miss me so much then let’s make a fucking effort. BUT I TOLD YOU TO GO WITH THAT GIRL. I am such an idiot.