Friday, March 16, 2007

This post is exactly what I tell my students NOT to do (a forced non-focus with obvious transitions)

I watched the first three installments of Frontline's News Wars, in part because I love Lowell Bergman (he's a constant at my fav-folks dinner party). There's a segment which analyzes print vs. online media- and the claim is that all the blogs out there aren't really doing any investigation; they're mostly serving as mini-databases; dissemintating information that is originally in print (so, no, the newspapers aren't dead--- yet). Well, here's my effort to reinforce that notion.

Spring break starts for me, um, now. Ed has three spring breaks in a row- and though that might sound incredible; it isn't. This last week was BU's spring break, so he was still busy with Lasell, Wheaton, and Harvard. Next week is Lasell's spring break, so he'll have Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to catch up on BU and Harvard stuff; the following week is Harvard's spring break, which means he'll have Tuesday and Thursday mornings to catch up on BU and Lasell stuff and be home Wednesday night. But, my spring break, which will consist of grading papers and figuring out mid-term grades, starts today. And, well, it's hardly spring. We're getting our second batch of snow. And, though mild in comparison to years before we moved, we're still pretty much house bound.

But, what's great about being house bound (besides driving in the slippery snow to get to the local grocery store in order to buy Jack his MUST HAVE chicken noodle soup - of which he ate all of four bites), is that we can soak in our favorite weatherman, Pete Bouchard. We LOVE Pete. Ed & I dig him- maybe a bit too much. He's better than Steve Pool or Jeff Renner. I'd love to take a meterology class from him- he'd be the cool, smart teacher. We also suspect he's the cousin of cool media guy, Joel McHale, from The Soup. Like Pete, cute, funny, and well, cool.

What's NOT so cool is how the snow is currently turning into sleet, and that after midnight tonight, it's supposed to be full on rain- which means no snowmen and lots of flooding. And, this is only two days after I wore my first tight-free skirt outfit because of the 70 degree weather. That never happens in Seattle. Nor, does the weather start significantly warmer in the morning and drop nearly 20 degrees by the end of the day (like today).

We have neighbors headed over to watch (wait, I hope I get this right) Round 1 of NCAA's Basketball playoffs. Apparently Duke and Notre Dame have already lost (as did Gonzaga) - and I only know that because I just asked Ed, but to keep some cohesiveness to this blog, I'll put a link to some of the info here. When I got up early to grade papers at a local coffee shop (okay, Starbucks), there was some guy there filling out his bracket sheet- looked like Ed's. There are many folks out there getting through these last few weeks of winter having a good time. I'm happy for them, even as I don't understand it.

I do understand that spring break should be about being somewhat lazy and watching movies. We're waiting for our latest netflix movie, The Prestige (which was supposed to be here yesterday). About a month ago we rented what we thought was The Prestige, but wasn't - mostly in part because Ed Norton, while an amazing actor, is NO Christian Bale (who happens to be on my other list- in fact he's at the top). I was going to have Jack in day care only a few hours this week, but with my work load, and the fact that he has missed about four days this month already with those damn persistant cough terrorist germs, he'll be going normal hours so Ed & I can actually have a lunch date AND get work done (can you imagine).

Jack & Ed are watching television- Scrubs syndication- and Jack's singing the theme song. Is that wrong? I don't care. It's spring break. (Please note the recent reference to Tacoma on the show- oh, and the recent activity at my home town's port- just trying to maintain some focus here...)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Philosophical Waxing and Waning

I used to read Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God every spring; right around lent. Like lent, I never decided to particpate in the calm reflective meditative practice that is reading Hurston (or engaging in lent), I would just happen to pick up the book and be in the mood for it. Every March or April for three years I read Hurston, not realizing that it had become a ritual. And I do love rituals- simple ones like having friends over for Sunday dinner or going out for breakfast at Johnny's in Newton on a Saturday. But, when you move as much as we have, rituals get lost. I did crave me some lent this year and did everything I could to find an Ash Wednesday service that I could attend in time to get home before Ed had to teach at Harvard. That, like so many other traditions and rituals, didn't happen. I haven't picked up Hurston since before Jack was born. I'm okay with it (the not having rituals part) - sort of. Rituals can be dangerous (obvious reference to Shirley Jackson's The Lottery here) mostly because they have the tendency to lose the very reflection that made them important in the first place. And yet, without them, my life lacks some distinct meaning. Maybe moving to Boston was in part about discovering new rituals that fit with the life and values which evolve from years of education, career changes, and new family members. Who knows.

Jack's been sick with some form(s) of cold or flu the last few weeks. Last night he threw up so I'm home with him today. I've yet to make it to a full week of school because of his colds and holidays since before February. And, I'm fine with that. Teaching five classes is KICKING MY ASS. It's insance, inhuman, and unethical. It's one of the reasons that Ed & I applied to teaching jobs back in the Northwest. That and the ever steady pulse of homesick heartache. Oh, and the realization that being near family would make childcare SOOOOO much easier. Oh, and the longing for moist air. But, mostly, the dull ache for the rituals we had only started - like the summer festivals at West Seattle Junction.

I really only wanted to post today to type up one of my favorite quotes from Hurston's novel. After years of accepting a less-than-perfect second marriage as a mayor's wife in a thriving town, the main character, Janie, "[watches] a shadow of herself... while all the time she herself sat under a shady tree with the wind blowing through her hair and her clothes." And, then a few lines later the narrator explains that "She got so she received all things with the stolidness of the earth which soaks up urine and perfume with the same indifference."

I can't tell you how many times this line has summed up my mood and reality the last few years. In a way it's down right depressing and a poetic definition of existentialism. But, when I'm about to rip off the five year old tattered sheets and light fire to my worn down five year old Danskos, angry that we haven't had the money, energy, or time to find or express some creativity - I have been able to (at least by the next morning), calm down and realize that everything just is. It's equally good; equally bad.

I think the quote sums up winter, too - winter in mood, you know, the winter of whatever part of life we are in. An acceptance of brightness hidden and warmth beyond reach. We've been in winter for awhile; things have been brewing underneath; goals have slowly become more clear the nearer we reach them (degrees/teaching jobs/doing what we love at work), and paradoxically, the farther we are away from them (being near - daily near-- family and friends). Applying to jobs in the Northwest felt like spring - like rebirth and fertility and lightness. That doesn't mean staying here equals death and darkness. Because, really, both are the same - it just depends on the day and the stack of work and the layer of dust.