Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Today, after almost two weeks of close, sticky, unbearable humidity and heat, the weather seemed to break. I wore a sweater on my bike ride to school and there was something sweet and smoky in the air.

I'm in my third year now (fourth year of graduate school, fifth year out of college). Can you believe that? Everyone has begun asking me what my dissertation is on. The question terrifies me because, although I have some ideas, I haven't yet had the time to think them through properly. This semester I'm working diligently at my reading list, writing two qualifying papers, auditing two classes, and teaching for the first time. 

I'm excited about teaching. After my first two sections last week, I came home glowing with delight. I liked my students and the class I'm teaching for (ancient philosophy), and I loved that once I started talking, time flew. We had done Heraclitus in lecture, so in section, I presented four different interpretive questions one could raise about his corpus and suggested some solutions. Then I had them write tweets--in their best Heraclitean style (Heraclitus appears to have writen primarily in epigraphs and sayings)--and explain how their tweet might settle or provide evidence for one of the questions we'd discussed. The exercise was a hit. Also, the tweets were impressively poetic. This Friday we'll be doing an analysis of the function argument in Book I of Plato's Republic

Monday, July 28, 2014

You guys. What a week. In the last seven days, my phone broke, my iPad broke, I lost my credit card, and, in a final flourish of inconvenience, I had to haul my beautiful (and very large) newly framed picture back downtown, on foot, because of a finishing flaw (and because I don't have car). It was like something out of a country song.

I can't tell you what was more upsetting: the fact that I might have to pay to get these things replaced, or the fact that replacing them involved making phone calls and, well, talking to strangers. (I thought that I would eventually grow out of these phobias, but, no, still present and accounted for.)

Anyhow, it's all taken care of. I bought a newer, better phone; the Apple technician took one look at my iPad, which was, thankfully, still under warranty, and ordered me a new one; I think I ordered a new credit card (it's hard to tell with these automated tellers); and my picture has been handily and quickly repaired.

So now.

It's time to go home.

See you tomorrow, Oregon.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A recommendation

Colum McCann's latest novel, Transatlantic. It's a remarkable story, told with unflagging generosity, about how ordinary lives rub up against and veer off of the extraordinary, and about how the movers and shakers of our world can have the most unexpected influence on the histories of the least of us. If you haven't read this one yet, and especially if you've never read McCann before, please do. There's grace for another day here.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

(T)rain, rain, (t)rain

On Tuesday I took the train into the City. I had my whole day planned out: a flying visit with a former coworker, a stop at The Strand bookstore, a trip to lower Manhattan to visit the September 11th museum. And then, as my friend and I were exploring SoHo after lunch, it began to pour. Not rain. Pour. One of those heavy, midsummer rains that rush and tumble from low clouds to boil in the gutters. During a lull, we took our chances and ventured out onto the street from Anthropologie (where we'd been savvily shopping the sales rack). It began to pour harder. By the time we made it back to Washington Square, my shoes were soaked through and my jeans were wet to the knees. I took the subway back to Times Square with my friend, where I left her at her hotel.

I no longer felt like finding my way back down to lower Manhattan, so I walked through the lightening rain to Central Park and then to the Upper East Side. A posh part of town. The doormen at the gates of the towering apartment buildings wore button-up gray uniforms and conductors' hats, and the patisseries advertised overnight delivery to any continental state. A sign on one store read "Ring bell for entry." Would they have let me in? But then I stopped at a closing sale to buy a pair of dry sandals, and in the checkout line, a woman pushing a stroller full of bargain clothes enthused to her friend, "The only thing that would make this day better is finding cans of tuna for 50-cents."

The rain stopped briefly in the late afternoon and then resumed towards the end of dinner, which I had at a Greek taverna on the corner of 3rd and 62nd (braised pork shoulder and buttery lemon potatoes). On the way back to the train station, the lights from the second and third floors of the skyscrapers shimmered through the waves of water. From the lofty, bright window-walls of a bank, three young men in suits, hands in pockets, a little smug, observed the scatter of pedestrians: women, well-coiffed, dodging puddles and opening their umbrellas purposefully; bikers in translucent rain slickers, glittering at the precise edge of the rushing streams; and me, crossing the asphalt of the corner below, sandals sopping.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Love notes

For a long time after that first year
we carried on electronically:
the digital messages of this age
the love notes of our everyday.

All the "did you see's" and "today I's" and "what did you's" of the dinner table and the bus
packed into the black and white wings of goudi or the prosaic planes of times new roman,
boxed up by the pixels of a webcam.

People would tell us of much longer separations than ours,
of years apart, unpunctuated by the occasional visit,
without even a text to live on.
As if the heaviness of their burden
made ours light.
(It didn't.)

But as I said,
we carried on for a long time,
even through the pockets of silence when letters cost our hearts too much to send.
And in the years after that first,
our words learned to say what our bodies in those days couldn't.
They sent our love.