Fragment: personal_grief.csv

I got all my personal data as a CSV so I could understand my grief.

I developed a sensible grief metric and submitted the metric to a variety of innovative but well-established statistical analysis and data visualization techniques.

The file containing my personal grief data was too large to be stored locally and so I configured a remote database to store my grief data using new and affordable cloud-based technologies.

I visualized my grief for my parents and siblings in a series of charts that I embedded in an e-mail.

can’t get last one to load, my dad replied.

I sent it again but at a lower resolution so the file size would be reduced.  I felt that this chart contained important information pertaining to my personal grief which is why I’d saved it at such a high resolution at first.  I was happy to re-send the smaller file, even though I really wanted my dad to have the high resolution version as well.

I put them all in the family’s directory on the cloud computer technology I had learned to use and set a reminder on my calendar to print them all out at the library before we all met at my parents’ house for lunch the following Sunday.

I made enough copies for everyone and passed them out, after church but before the ballgames started.


“Broken turtle, busy hare” performed at The Jewish Museum

Last night Hinda Weiss and I presented our piece, “Broken turtle, busy hare” at Scenes from the Collection at the Jewish Museum in New York.  The performance weaves together two artists’ journeys: Hinda’s video work from the Negev Desert and fragments of my own memories of my childhood in rural North Carolina.  In the video, a woman walks with absolute determination on an absurd path while in the text a boy attempts to construct an identity out of animal corpses, archaeological artifacts, and religious paraphernalia.

The show included other performances and installations by Kiki Williams, Rachel Labine, and others.



Fragment: Translation of Bahnwärter Thiel

I’ve recently begun working on a translation of one of my favorite stories, “Bahnwärter Thiel” by Gerhard Hauptmann.  

Every Sunday you could find Thiel the rail signalman sitting in church, except for the days when he either had to work or was sick in bed.  But over the course of ten years he’d only been sick twice:  the first time was when a large piece of coal fell out of the coal car of a passing train and tossed him down the embankment with a shattered leg; the second was when a bottle of wine came flying out of the window of a train as it sped past and hit him square in the chest.  Apart from these two mishaps, as long as he didn’t have to work, nothing had ever managed to keep him from going to church.

Feedback for the author

I could not make sense of this, despite how engaging and vivid it was. Why is the father doing this? What’s with the fuses? Is this real or imagined? Why was he rambling on about things that wouldn’t matter to a boy (or maybe girl?) who’s being held against his/her will? Why is the brother picking him/her up for swimming? Does he not live with them? Why doesn’t the father take him/her (although, even as I ask this, I can see why. But then it makes me wonder why this father is allowed anywhere near his child.) What is going on here? I was lost from the start and remained so until the end.