25 January, 2009

25 random facts

While I am working on a "proper" blog, I will share here a list (inspired by a little facebook post going round) of 25 random facts about me.

1) My favorite breed of dog is the whippet.
2) I have a small birthmark under my right eye, which most of my friends and family at one point or other have tried to rub off, thinking it was mascara or dirt.
3) I speak four languages and can do bits of a few others.
4) In middle school, I gave a campaign speech for presidential candidate Gary Hart at an all-school assembly, wearing a Halloween costume of leaves stapled to an orange and green dress.
5) I shook Fidel Castro's hand.
6) According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I'm an ENFJ.
7) I was a vegetarian for almost a decade.
8) I almost never sleep on airplanes, especially those long-haul night flights across the ocean, where everyone else is passed out, legs sticking out at odd angles, mouths open, making collective creepy sleeping noises, while I alone tiptoe through the aisles like an intruder in a morgue.  Or so it seems.
9) I find clowns scary.
10) I can sing the high F in the Queen of the Night Aria from the Magic Flute.
11) So far I've performed in 32 countries on 6 continents.
12) My rising sign is Aquarius.
13) I'm a Reiki master.
14) My favorite sport to watch is rugby.
15) My husband and I got married on a private game reserve in South Africa, in a tiny stone chapel whose doorknobs had been nicked by baboons.
16) I sleep on a round mattress.
17) The longest I ever went without eating was 6 days.
18) According to a religion quiz on beliefnet.com, I should be a Unitarian Universalist.  Or a Neo-Pagan.  Or a Mahayana Buddhist.
19) I haven't driven a car since 1995.
20) My favorite children's book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
21) The recording I could listen to every day is Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations (the earlier recording.)
22) I'm not afraid of spiders and never kill them (on purpose.)
23) My navel was pierced for 2 years, sort of recently.
24) I don't like pork.
25) When I was 10, I lost a mitten at the beach in Oregon and found it 4 months later buried under the sand.

24 January, 2009

Celtic music and the stirrings of genetic memory

I'm several hours into a train journey from Luxembourg to Amsterdam, to visit friends Laurie and Bruce on their houseboat.  Keeping me company, keeping me sane, is a collection of songs by one of my favorite Celtic folk groups, Silly Wizard.  Andy Stewart sings wistfully:

If I was a blackbird, could whistle and sing,
I'd follow the vessel my true love sails in.
And in the top rigging, I'd there build my nest - 
And I'd flutter my wings o'er her lily-white breast...

There's just something about Celtic folk music.  Something that stirs me profoundly, something beyond the feelings of the moment, reaching beyond the parameters of my everyday consciousness, a half-forgotten dream landscape, mine or someone else's...A friend of ours has the theory that in lieu of reincarnation, the cells of our bodies retain memories of our genetic forebears.  Most of my ancestors, those of whom we have any record, have their roots in Ireland, England, Scotland.  Some made their way to the British colonies in the New World, others came a century later when their crops failed and their children were starving.  Perhaps the music of their homeland wrote itself into their DNA and passed down through generations until it reached me?

Or maybe I was an Irish bard in a past life.  Or maybe my mother listened to The Chieftains while I was still in her womb.  Whatever it is, the connection of my heart to this music teases me to remember, to catch the words of an ancient, quiet voice.  If I was a blackbird...