It happens every semester at about this point: I feel like every class I'm teaching is falling into utter disarray. All the ambitious plans I had of keeping up with all the paperwork, having every session meticulously planned and annotated, following through on every jot & tittle brought up on the first day: blown apart like a tower of sand. You'd think that I would get a grip and somehow learn to handle a whole semester of work, but five years into my career, I'm not there yet. Instead, it's like it always is: my energy and effort are fragmented, spread out over lots of projects, lots of relationships, lots of duties.
Not a complaint, just an observation about my expectations and their relationship to reality.
Good explanation of entropy as a measure of the dispersal of energy here. Hey, it applies to the end of an academic term better than I thought!
Went for a walk today out in the field behind our house. It's actually a bit of property allegedly being developed for real-estate, but we don't see any plots being sold for a good long while. The boys ran through the grass, picked up rocks, looked into holes, and generally did the things that kids do when given that much space with so much interesting stuff in it.
I remember being in fields like that as a kid; I remember how much fun it could be to just tromp around in boots.
What I wonder is where all that wonder went. I try to keep my eyes on my boys, to see through their eyes. I'd like the world to feel large & open again.
I used to be in the habit of asking "why" an awful lot. I have learned that "why" is a futile question to ask. Most of the time, the answer is a stark "because." And then, when it isn't, there's one who knows the answer . . .
. . . but he ain't telling.
What is it Pope says?
"In both, to reason right is to submit," or something like that.
I also have to resist standing up and shouting, "oh for God's sake! Just say 'wine!' Everybody knows you've got Great Value grape juice in these cups!
If you're less inclined to be grouchy about it than I am, then look at this slideshow of things that grow on vines. To my left, hops. I'd say what these help make, but evidently Baptists aren't allowed to name drinks containing C2H5OH.
"It consoles me in my retreat; it relieves me of the weight of distressing idleness and, at any time, can rid me of boring company. It blunts the stabs of pain whenever pain is not to overpowering and extreme. To distract me from morose thoughts, I simply need to have recourse to books."
1. There's a student in one of my classes this term who sits on the very front row and watches me with extraordinary intensity. Honestly, sometimes it's like she's trying to bore holes into me with her eyes.
2. I walked across campus today at 11:00--it was nice to get out and see that the campus is actually quite lively that time of day. There are many days during which I get to see my office, the department office, the bathroom, the classrooms, and the connecting hallways--all in one building--and that's it. I even garnered a smile from a couple of passers-by.
3. I sprinkled tales of Little Red into my teaching today. I wonder if the students get tired of me chasing rabbits.
It's become one of my frequent self-deprecating statements. I had reason to think about this some this past weekend--why that came about isn't all that important--and though I hate to say it, I'm kinda glad I'm not a good baptist.
In short, I've come to believe that much of the "theology" I was taught (or that I somehow ingested) as a young man in HS and College, bright but overly eager to please, was not actual theology at all--but a pale imitation of true theology, mixed more with cultural norms and particular evangelical quirks. For some people, the brand of conservative (at times fundamentalist) evangelicalism I grew up in serves them well through their entire lives.
For me, that upbringing just reinforced the notion that nothing is ever good enough--that God is in fact demanding to be pleased by me, but is never actually pleased by what I can produce. That my very human-ness is itself a condemnation. And since I'm already a pessimist and prone to a touch of self-loathing, well.
It's an old complaint, I know--but there was a conversation this weekend that made it come back to my mind with a particular force. I'm just trying to find a new way now. It's hard work.
You know, I read this and think to myself, "some people write these really long developed essays on their blogs. I admire that. Apparently, that's not my style." The above is pretty sketchy, but maybe it's enough for now.
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness :
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Here at the fountain's sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree's mossy root,
Casting the body's vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide :
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings ;
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.
Tomorrow marks the last day I will drive Zippy the Honda Fit to work. We are trading him in for something much bigger. Whereupon I will be driving Molly the CR-V, or riding my bike. Probably the latter whenever I can, helmet-hair and general bike dorkiness notwithstanding. Anyone who feels like contributing to the cause, I'm always willing to accept a Raleigh One-Way as a well appointed commuter bike.
I walked into my Shakespeare class today, and several looked at me askance. Then the question came:
"Are you in a bad mood today?"
I had to confess that I was, As You Like It notwithstanding.
I can't believe I'm that transparent. Argh.
(picture: Sir Philip Sidney exhibiting his best "annoyance ears.")
What news abroad i' the world?
None, but that there is so great a fever on
goodness, that the dissolution of it must cure it:
novelty is only in request; and it is as dangerous
to be aged in any kind of course, as it is virtuous
to be constant in any undertaking. There is scarce
truth enough alive to make societies secure; but
security enough to make fellowships accurst: much
upon this riddle runs the wisdom of the world. This
news is old enough, yet it is every day's news.
(Measure for Measure)
As you know, the Phi Kappa Phi Muriel Tomlinson Lecture is scheduled for February 9, 2010, at 7 p.m. with Dr. Chris Hill (Assistant Professor of English) as the speaker. The title for Dr. Hill’s presentation is, “I cannot keep decorum personae”: A Renaissance Rhetoric of Strife.
It's my big moment! I'm sure you'll want to mark it down on your calendar.
October went, and took something with it. It's hard to say exactly what, but it seems this way every year when the events of the month are over, when the time changes back over, when the weather begins to turn cool. It's like preparing for a long hibernation . . . some things get folded up and put away for a while. If we're fortunate, we'll get to take them out again when the warmer breezes blow.
"Youth's a stuff will not endure," as Feste sings.