November 9 – 21, 2011
I was so hungry for this time alone. So, when my plane connection was cancelled due to bad weather and I had to stay at a Detroit airport hotel for two days, I was more than a little disappointed. Two days later, my irritable self followed me to the Residency. But when I walked inside the cozy furnished log cabin I was completely transformed. The next 10 days were perfect!! It was the privacy that I loved most. After many years as a musician, professor, arts administrator, visual artist, and writer, I had decided to make some major changes in my life. It is time to focus on art making, and leave teaching and leadership projects behind….or at least at rest for awhile! This experience was offered to me at exactly the right time.
The first night was the most difficult. It wasn’t the quiet so much. It was the fact that I’m a New York City native who was settled deep in the woods alone during deer hunting season. A little note from Amanda welcomed me earlier that day upon arrival as I entered the cabin, and suggested that I wear the neon orange vest and hat if I ventured into the woods. Needless to say, there was no “venturing” and I got plenty of writing done over the next ten days!!
But, on the first night in the cabin at about 3am, I heard loud voices down the hill in the house below. A large group of people were screaming and singing and I could tell they were drunk. I then heard a noise at the door. I jumped. I sat up and listened quietly. I was alone in a strange, secluded place and I was very frightened. Had I locked the sliding door to the cabin? Did anyone know I was in the cabin? Did they know I was alone? Would anyone hear me if I screamed? Could I reach my cell phone to call someone for help? After sitting frozen for about twenty long minutes and hearing absolutely nothing but an occasional branch rustling in the wind, I realized that I had dreamed the voices and music, and that it was an animal that had been scratching (I saw it’s marks on the door the next morning).
Yes, I wrote for ten days, but I read too. June Jordan’s poetry and Charles Bukowski’s short stories fueled my ideas. I even got some work done on an interdisciplinary project I’ve been dreaming about. I meditated. I cooked (this Caribbean American woman was pleasantly surprised to find plenty cumin in the spice cabinet for my arroz con frijoles negros). But, the quiet was probably the most delicious thing I took into me.
It will definitely be hard to follow this experience with another residency.