Saturday, December 30, 2017

Back to work, but not yet.

It has been nine days since I last wrote an elected official, although it has been about ten minutes since I retweeted something political. About nine days, probably, since I last checked the learning management system for messages from students. Just one day, truthfully, since I received an email pertaining to next semester, but that same amount of time is how long I have been ignoring it. Both the email and next semester, also truthfully.

During this holiday I have seen my family and gone to movies and out to dinner. I have admired the lights in my house and out on the streets. I have delivered baked goods and wrapped presents, tied ribbons around packages (and harvested the ribbon to hoard again at home). I have begun to make my plans for the new year, and I have hung up my clothes. This sounds ordinary but is actually momentous, as every time I hang up my clothes I reckon with the whole of my life.

I have eaten a lot of peanut brittle.

A friend recently wrote that she had waited 'till the last possible minute' to plan for her next semester's class. I thought, this can't be the last possible minute, what about next week? And resumed scrolling through Twitter with a piece of peanut brittle in hand and possible in my mouth. I am having just a little bit of a tricky time keeping track of the day of the week. The days feel a little slide-y.

my calendar is currently wide open.

The solstice has come and gone. Supposedly, each day has a little bit more light in it. Supposedly. For me, as I imagine for many of you, it still feels pretty dark.

Well, I was out for the afternoon, and came back home. We'd planned to go to a movie, one of two movies that looked a little bit mainstream, a little bit heavy, possibly a little dark. I said to the historian, Honestly, both of these movies feel a little bit heavy and a little bit dark. I left out the part about a little bit mainstream, because I sometimes, even often, like a mainstream movie, especially during the last part of the year, and I don't want to cede the mainstream just yet.

The historian agreed. Probably, mentally, he added and a little bit mainstream to the list of reasons why we should just go out to dinner, then come home. Currently, he is watching the Jazz eke out a possible, improbably victory (I hope!), and then we will watch some more of the end of Veronica Mars, second season, for the zillionth time, because even though Veronica Mars is a little bit mainstream, a little bit heavy, a little bit dark, somehow it comforts me in these dark times.

However: in the new year, I plan to do the following things to jolt me out of my doom cocoon:

  •  read books, as opposed to the infinitely charactered, herky jerky narrative that is Twitter. I have a list.
  • listen to new music every day.
This is a very small excerpt of my new year plan. Some things you just need to keep to yourself for awhile. Possibly, we will watch the mainstream/heavy/dark films we skipped this weekend, just not right now. Just like, I will probably go into my office and fetch items that will help me come up with a plan for my next semester's class. Just not right now. And maybe not tomorrow either. When does next week start, even?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Good things: a current list.

(1) tiny little art piece by Naomi, posted in my office.

(2) progress on layout for the 2e SLCC Community Anthology.

(3) quiet weekend, mostly at home, getting stuff done.

(4) eating leftover sausage pizza in my office--getting a little hit of fennel.

(5) this pumpkin pie, gussied up with secret additions and revisions. (pro tip: roast your own sugar pumpkin.)

(6) two GREAT films at the SLFS this weekend:

(7) FYI, it is a holiday week, and I could not be happier.

(8) this apple I am currently eating.

[NOTE: a lot of my good things are food, and is there anything I need to investigate on that front? probably not. But to wit:]

(9) a thing called 'sipping chocolate' at Trader Joe's, which may be life-altering? it's seasonal, though, so you should (a) buy it now, and possibly (b) stock up?

And now, I am diving back into InDesign, which, weirdly, has become a kind of homey place to hang out, what is wrong with me? NOTHING, that's what. I am just fine, and now I can apply paragraph styles to content I have put into pages I have applied master pages to, what is WRONG WITH ME.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Wall of Truth.

This year is the year I have dubbed Mortality Lessons. I've joked that I think I'm ready to take the quiz now, I'm ready to stop immersive study practices and show I've learned the material, maybe even mastered it, I think I will ace it, enough already.


I'm not sure that's how Mortality Lessons actually works.

My sister E had not one, but two strokes this summer. She has been recovering ever since, doing all sorts of therapy, and making impressive strides. Her friends and family are ardent supporters. My sisters--there are three of us--were and are the squad (SQUAD!) for my dad as he has recovered from his own brain events.

At the moment, though, E has to make getting better, recovering, her main focus. This is one of the statements on her Wall of Truth. The Wall of Truth is my younger sister's invention, and it is genius. These statements are written on pieces of white paper in Sharpie, and taped to the wall opposite the bed and chair. Other statements include the dates of her brain events; the location of her two daughters, and the fact that they are all right; and other pertinent facts about E's here and now, which can feel a little elusive sometimes. The Wall of Truth is supposed to help in making the here and now a little bit more stable. More confirmable. Look up, and there are the bare facts of the case, the incontrovertible, the inarguable.
Truth: the inarguable here and now are sometimes unbearable. 
Truth: the people who love us are infinitely precious. 
Truth: the burdens we bear cannot, for the most part, be made easier to bear through better thinking or better organizing. We just have to bear them. 
Truth: still, sometimes we can use a little help.
Some of the sweetest conversations of my life I've had this year, with my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother. My therapist pointed out that one of the reasons the sweetness, and the grief, both feel so sharp is that these conversations--these circumstances--are sacred. That rang true to me. The sacredness--the way this year has felt set apart, a steep swerve into another realm--intensifies both the grief and the grace.

Today I came home from a long but good day, feeling like I had done a pretty good job at all the job things that were on my agenda. I told the historian so, and he offered a kind word, affirming what I felt. It's my habit to simultaneously hold this kind of praise, and to demur.

"Thanks for saying that," I said to him.

"Well, it's true," he said. "Maybe you need a Wall of Truth."
Truth: the end of the day Friday is the sweetest moment of the week. 
Truth: I really, really love my family, all of them, in an infinity of times and places. There will never be enough words for this. 
Truth: there is also never enough time. 
Truth: I need to arrange to get a CT Angio, stat.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Dear Robert Mueller,

Dear Robert Mueller,

I figure that, between your crack legal mind, your impeccable sense of timing and narrative drama, and your unimpeachable moral character, you might need to hear a story or two, so, because I have secretly or maybe not so secretly put you on a pedestal, nay, in a shrine, even though I know how problematic this all is, of COURSE I DO, I offer the following:


On Indictment Monday, I woke up, finally, from a not so great night of sleep, to my alarm going off at an indecent hour. Barely cracking open an eye, I reached for my phone to turn off the alarm, flicked to see my notifications, to find the one from the NYTimes:

"Manafort," I said to my husband, his sweet head still on the sweet, sweet pillow of early morning.


Last night, I had the strangest dream.
Last night, a night when the cable box inexplicably shone its blue light forEVer, even though I knew I  had turned it off, and my mouth felt icky and also my shoulders hurt but I hoped maybe I would be able to go back to sleep and give it a rest already, but no: last night, after I woke up to stomp over to the freaking cable box and turn it off, and stomped out to the hall to see if we had turned down the heat, and we had, but why was it going, then? and why did my mouth feel so gross? and maybe I should just take some ibuprofen already: last night, after I finally fell asleep again after all the previous drama--are you with me, Robert? I know, that was some serious narrative circuitousness--I had this dream: 
I was traveling, and it was complicated. (Maybe I couldn't choose between my three U.S. passports with different numbers--I think maybe that was it.) Anyway, while I was traveling, things turned into a plan to help America heal its political divides. The historian was with me, I think. Also some of my kids, and maybe a few other people. And also John Boehner, with whom I was prosecuting a very intense argument. 
"You liberals don't have any respect for any conservatives," scoffed John Boehner. 
This is patent nonsense. I derive from a family tree of conservatives, and I have maintained, lo unto this very dark hour, that there are still (a few) conservative public servants who are honorable people, or at least who strive to be honorable. (The evidence for this position being slimmer and less and less tenable as the years go by, I acknowledge, and with some sorrow.) 
"That's patent nonsense," I rejoined. "I drive from a family tree of conservatives. I respect John McCain, for instance, even though I disagree with him on most policy matters." 
"McCain!" scoffed John Boehner, implying in his scoffery that this is a too-easy answer, that everyone likes to say they respect John McCain.  
"Well, what about you, John Boehner?" I said. "Who on the left do you admire or respect?" 
This brought him up short. If he'd been on his game (although, to be fair, it was MY dream), he might have said Joe Biden, since it's clear that almost everyone likes Joe Biden, perhaps in excess of his pre-Obama record, but still. But he didn't. Instead, he reached into the pre-modern era.  
This is where my dream-memory gets sketchy. 
He named a founders-era person, and I said, no, come on, John Boehner, it has to be someone closer to the present. 
He paused again. "Grover Cleveland," he proffered.*

Robert Mueller, when I told this story to the historian this morning, he snort-laughed. I hope that you will be amused, although to be honest, I don't expect you to actually laugh. You're too serious for that kind of nonsense. And sir, I thank you for it. I thank you for your seriousness, and for all those indictments.

Please carry on,


*Grover Cleveland, you may or may not remember, was a Democrat, but obviously before the shift of the Democrats away from its southern constituency. So, John Boehner, Grover Cleveland is not an acceptable answer whatsoever.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Away, and yet I am still my very own self, Episode Infinity.

 I am in a hotel in another city. Okay, D.C. It’s early, because even in another time zone in my own country, I’m a little bit thrown off. I heard what seemed like a knock at my door and I thought, ack I’ve overslept, which is a new “thing I’m doing,” I guess, part of the “everything has changed and probably for the worse” tour of my own life. But no, I had not overslept, there was no knock, it was still early. But, you know, the windows are light, or lightening, and so now I’m up in the gray quiet, alone.

What is there to do in a hotel room but take gratuitous selfies? Or blog, which maybe amounts to the same thing?

I told my friend that I would have a hotel room to myself:

I realized when I woke up that I had just spent the last 12 hours, almost, in the total quiet, my time belonging only to myself. And what did I do with this precious commodity, quiet and time alone? Well, I slept, of course. But also, I did much of what I always do—finding stuff on the internet. Answering email. Because I tried to leave town with lots of work already done, though, I didn’t find myself feeling torn by how much there was to do. When you’re in another city, a lot of what you usually have to do, you can’t do. My colleague and I ate a wonderful dinner before I encelled myself in my narrow chamber. Actually, it’s pretty swank. So, you know, monastic, but with really nice towels and a king size bed.


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