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Maria Teresa Teresa Maria

de Laurie Anderson / an -


Last spring, I spent a week in a convent in the Midwest. I'd been invited there to do a series of seminars on language. They'd gotten my name from a list in Washington, from a brochure that described my work as ÃÂǣdeals with the spiritual issues of our timeÃÂ, undoubtedly a blurb I had written myself.
Because of this, and also because men were not allowed to enter the convert, they asked me to come out. The night I arrived, they had a party for me in a nearby town, in a downstairs lounge of a crystal lane's bowling alley.

The alley was reserved for the nuns, for their Tuesday night tournaments; it was a pizza party. And the lounge was decorated to look like a cave: every surface was covered with that spray-on rock that's usually used for soundproofing. In this case, it had the opposite effect: it amplified every sound.

Now the nuns were in the middle of their annual tournament playoffs. And we could hear all the bowling balls rolling very slowly down the aisles above us, making the rock club stalactites tremble and resonate.

Finally the pizza arrived, and the mother superior began to bless the food. Now this woman normally had a gruffed low-pitched speaking voice but as soon as she began to pray he voice rose, became pure, bell-like, like a child's. The prayer went on and on increasing in volume each time a sister got a strike, rising in pitch ÃÂǣDear Father in HeavenÃÂ.

The next day I was scheduled to begin this seminar on language. I'd been very struck by this prayer and I wanted to talk about how women's voices rise in pitch when they're asking for things, especially from men. But it was odd. Every time I set a time for the seminar, there was some reason to postpone it: the potatoes had to be dug out, or a busload of old people would appear out of nowhere and have to be shown around.

So I never actuall

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