Sunday, October 30, 2011

The show.

This week felt like a long, very busy one, but we found time to watch the World Series. I can't remember how long it's been since I watched baseball--maybe that series in 2001, right after September 11. I was in an artists' colony in Vermont. There were a host of New Yorkers who made the argument that it would be so important for the Yankees to win--it would lift the spirits of the city. Churlishly, I did not agree, though I mostly kept that sentiment to myself, I hope. I remember being taken by the freakishly long-bodied Randy Johnson, who threw like some kind of ancient raptor (that's how I thought of it, in any case), and I was stony-hearted against the charms of young Derek Jeter.

The historian has always tracked the Cardinals, if he is not an active fan. That's because his favorite player ever is Stan "the Man" Musial, who was a great player to be sure and also "a good lefty," as the leftist-and-a-half historian likes to point out. So we were, of course, rooting for the Cards. It was fun to watch, for me, since I had really no stake whatsoever in the game, and nonetheless a team to root for. In sports, there's not much more beautiful than a great pitcher hurling the ball, than a great hitter settling into his stance, then connecting with the ball. That sound is a wonderful sound (much like the sound of a basketball going through a net--heaven.). And I have a special admiration for a great fielder--the absolute attention he gives to the ball arcing toward him, the way he moves to be under it, the stillness just before the ball hits the pocket of a glove, or the lateral dive to snatch it before it hits the ground. And I love feeling the vicarious elation of a winning team, and more, a winning town, since St. Louis clearly loves that team; simultaneously, I find it a little heart-rending to see the dejection of the losing team. It's a great spectacle. I was glad to reconnect with it.

This weekend, after something of a movie hiatus--several weekends with illness, more illness, social engagements, fall break--we saw a double-header, 50/50 and The Rum Diary. (In between, in case you're wondering, there was curry.) There was no good reason to see The Rum Diary, and the reasons we did see it can be summed up by the names of movie stars, and also the fact that it was at the same theater in which we saw 50/50, and we wanted to see two movies. Back to the movie stars: honestly, it wasn't the acting that did this movie in--it was a story that begged to be told with more verve and brevity, and instead it was made with slog and long-ass-ery. Sad. But not that sad. Again, no stake in it. It was a movie. Although it must be admitted that one of us turned to the other at about the three-quarters mark and said, "Is this long?" Okay, it was me. Point being, I don't know how long the movie actually was, but it felt long.

But 50/50 was actually not half bad. In fact, I would say it was pretty good, and very good if you minus out an unnecessary romance. There were passages in this movie when I wept (big surprise)--cancer is scary, more scary in real life than in movies, and there was a lot of this movie that got that scariness pretty close to right, both the historian and I agreed. The movie also got this right: that we have the chance to show up for each other in all kinds of ways. That it's worth it, both the showing up and the noticing.

This week, I have been thinking about how hard it is to pay attention to what is there, right in front of us. For a month now, we have had one car between us, and there are moments when what feels like dependency and constrained mobility and, you know, lack of freedom has grated sorely on not just my nerves but my sense of self. It has felt so trying to me. But it's also the kind of thing that makes me ask myself: it's a car, so what? You can't stop at the store on the way home, you don't have that buffer of solitude between home and work, between work and home. Can't you just adjust?

My daughter, on her blog, wrote this week about longing for something missing. But ultimately, she finds, what she has is enough: ultimately, she says, "I do not want to spend my days longing."

I have been thinking about her words during these golden autumn days, days so blessedly beautiful, full of light and warmth and a splendid chill in the mornings and evenings. This morning we planted tulip and daffodil bulbs together. We took Bruiser to the playground for a romp. I made us oatmeal. I want try harder to just be there for whatever fills these days, for all the days we--all of us, beloveds and friends--have together.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One thing at a time.

Today I took direct action like a Wobbly, as opposed to working through the system: I bought a new printer. But that's actually (almost) the end of the story. Let me start over.

Have you ever felt like the odds against you--the forces armed against you--the lack of inner resources that you bring to an almost insurmountable task--might slay you before you even get out of bed in the morning?Well, that is exactly how I've been feeling with regard to readying my house for winter. And by "house," I mean my whole life, obviously.

Here are some things that need to happen:
  • tulip bulbs: plant them.
  • perennials: trim them.
  • apples: sauce them.
  • grapes: juice them.
  • mice: eradicate them (this will never happen. Obviously. We live by a field, and we will not poison them. Hello mice my old friends, I've come to send dark thoughts your way again.)
  • kitchen table: for the love of heaven, keep it free of stuff!
  • poems: write them, revise them, publish them for the love!
  • grading: get caught up.
  • weatherstripping: put some on so the wintry drafts do not veritably chill our very souls come December.
  • blog: write more regularly.
  • spending: whip it into shape. And conversely,
  • buy: this one thing that is *obviously* an exception to "spending" above.
  • car: OMG get one before I lose my everloving mind.
  • vacuum cleaner: fix it.
As you can see, there is enough on this list to flummox a person of regular powers. Or, you know, maybe a person of regular powers would just start with the items on the list and do them. In an orderly fashion. Whatever. Maybe I am just lame. I certainly feel that way.

For instance, I did a little book review project this summer for a little cash. A nice little piece of cash that could aid in any number of the above projects. Or I could spend it. Whatever. But because I did this project in the summer, and because my printer was acting like a prissy little diva, and wouldn't print, and because I did not want to go into work just to print, or at all, it is now OCTOBER and I have still not sent in the forms so I can get paid.

Not to mention that I do have a few poems in progress that I could be working on. But because I am sick sick sick of screens--online teaching you are my nemesis!--I thought, I just want to print them out. But did I print them out before leaving work? No. Did I have a car so I could go somewhere to print them? No. Did this make me feel like giving up on life and simultaneously pitching a huge fit like a child? YES.

The people: I got up this morning and went to Target directly upon its opening hour, bought myself a printer, set it up LIKE A BOSS and now I can print, and wirelessly. And all of a sudden, everything else seems manageable.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The facts.

The thing about October is, it's different wherever you go.

Idaho Falls, where my father was raised and my grandparents lived, is about 10 degrees cooler, generally, than Salt Lake City. And Island Park is generally 10 degrees cooler than that. In Yellowstone, the days are in the 40s. The sky is quilted with cloud.

Because of this general sinking of the year, which is further along the further north you go, the roads and byways of Yellowstone are blissfully unbusy.

The same beautiful rivers, forest, flumes of thermal steam and geyser. The inveterate fisherpeople, who must have to catch and release, but still stand for hours, hip-deep in the Madison. But almost no one else.

Everything is slower.

We're going a few places we haven't gone--the Porcelain Basin, with its siliceous sinter which makes everything opalescent and the pools a serene, rather chilly blue.

The road between Canyon and Tower is closed. There was snow earlier this week and the Dunraven Pass is just too high. Tomorrow we hope to get up early and drive to the Hayden Valley, and see what we can see.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The sick, which is the enemy of going to the movies.

I am better now. However, in the gift economy that is unique to marriage, the historian was stricken with the very same sick. This means that for two successive weekends: no movies. The horror.

The sick has also given me, us, our pack of three, opportunities to contemplate things like:
  • how much dust there is everywhere.
  • how much money I have spent on stuff.
  • how things like buying a car to replace the smashed Camry or grading seem completely monumental when considered from a prone position.
  • that I am mortal and we are all going to die.
It is good to be on the upswing from the sick. Really good. It's good to take a walk in the afternoon with Bruiser and admire the weather, which itself is on an upswing from the rain/snow of earlier in the week. We have figured out how to buy the car, or The New Camry, as I like to refer to it. I am grading, or blogging, same thing, right now, and it seems possible that I can dig myself out of the grading hole, or hell, same thing, that I am in now.

Maybe that's the best thing about being sick--when you get better, you just feel grateful for what is. Getting back the ability to not feel defeated by your life.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Complaint: a litany.

I feel sweaty and sniffly, and am nonetheless in my office, hiding behind a firmly closed door so that I can get some online grading done, because

the internet at my house is out.


I called the helpful folks at my ISP, and they said

"unfortunately Ms. HTMS, the red power light means your modem is broken. It's what we call "a hardware issue," and no amount of phone-based troubleshooting will alleviate what ails you. However, we can send you a new modem, which will be $99. And it will arrive far too late for you to stay home and nurse your cold for one more day, because you will have to go into your office to use the internet there, since you really, really must get on that online teaching you didn't do this weekend because you felt sick, and you wasted your Friday going to a meeting."

Thanks, helpful folks at my ISP. No, seriously.

Sweaty, sniffly, hot-eyed. Internetless. Broken modem'd. Be-Dayquil'd. Vicksed up.

Also, my e-mail box is possibly at its limit of over-fulness.

Uncomfortable chair.

Way, way behind in my work.


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