Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/22/14: Bubble Wrap, First Whopper, Authenticity

1.  Bubble wrap.  Shipping tape.  Constructing boxes.  Making decisions.  I took a break to teach my class.  Right now my life is centered around bubble wrap, shipping tape, constructing boxes, and making decisions.  What stays?  What goes?

2.  I was reminded today of when I lived in married student housing on Arthur and about 15th thirty-five years ago and one day I was home alone and I had the car and I'd never tried a Whopper before at Burger King and I remember feeling like I was spending money I should have spent on something else, but I spent it on a Whopper at the Burger King on West 11th.  I enjoyed the Whopper's char broiled taste and I liked the sesame bun and the fries pleased me.  The sandwich, I remember, paired well with Coca-Cola.  This all came back to me when I was on my way to Staples to buy more bubble wrap and shipping tape and boxes to construct and stopped in at the Burger King on West 11th and had a Whopper with fries and a Coca-Cola. 

3.  The Deke asked me to meet her at Cornucopia and when I arrived a margarita suddenly appeared at our table before I'd had a chance to decide what I wanted and this tickled me and I stopped laughing so I could have a sip.  I talked with the Deke about all the writing I've done over the years where I've tried too hard to sound intellectual or to be poetic and I was trying too hard because I was trying to prove myself to fellow grad students or professors or to any one of a small number of  women I thought I loved.  I've read some of that writing as I've been packing and it embarrasses me.  It's painful to read such strained writing.  In our seventeen years together, I've never felt like I had to prove myself to the Deke.  It's what I like about writing in this blog.  In the vast majority of the postings, I haven't tried to impress anyone or prove myself.  I've tried to be authentic and tried not to attempt to sound smarter than I am.  It's a relief.  I enjoy writing within the bounds of my own experience and intelligence and imagination.  When I go outside these bounds, I embarrass myself.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/21/14: Donations, Stuff from My Past, Farewell Electric Frying Pan

1.  More donations.  More recycled stuff.  We aren't getting rid of everything.  A couple boxes of books, cds, and dvds are packed and ready to go.

2.  It's been many years since I looked in a couple of boxes stored in the basement.  I have tons of notebooks I've written in.  Reviewing them a bit today, it came back to me immediately how much confusion I've felt in my life, especially with broken marriages and other brokenness with girlfriends. I haven't written any such stuff for seventeen years now.  I knew I would find that.  I also didn't realize I'd kept copies of the funny little play I wrote thirty years ago and that I had kept some papers I wrote in college that meant a lot to me and I found the file of materials related to the 1987 Top 100 Albums According to the Rolling Stone party I spearheaded in October of '87.  I'm glad I kept a lot of this stuff and it fit in a single box.  I'm keeping a lot of it.  (By the way, my graduate school field exams did not make the cut. Neither did my grad school application and the paper I wrote on The Waste Land as a sample of my writing.)

3.  I stir fried red cabbage, tofu, and red pepper in the electric frying pan tonight and it was this fine appliance's last supper here at the house.  I have used this appliance so much that the non-stick surface is nearly gone and so I'm donating it to Goodwill and hope someone else will get some of the pleasure of cooking with this frying pan that I did.  I can hardly wait to purchase a new one when we get settled back east. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/20/14: Moving, Google v Evan, Sour Ale Finish

1.  Oh, my!  More stuff out the door and donated:  books, cd's, dvd's, a cd/dvd rack, kitchen stuff, and more.  We are lightening our load and really clearing out the house.  It's all good.

2.  In a column for today's New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman interviewed Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google about how to get a job at Google, here.  Bock said what many big shot corporation big shots say:  college is about financial investment.  Think about getting the best financial return on this investment.  Either don't go to college or, if you do, pursue a rigorous degree, like computer engineering, and stay away from soft stuff like psychology or English.  He didn't say a word about a liberal arts education's worth in terms of a deeper understanding of human nature, a word about self-examination, or a word about learning to think critically.  That is all predictable and you know I know this if you've read my little piece, "Being a Liberal Arts Teacher".   Then today, at the Bier Stein, I ran into Evan, a Survey of World Literature student of mine from about six or seven years ago.  He has been working in the bar/restaurant world, doing very well, and will manage the bar at the new Electric Station opening in July.  This is the second time I've run into Evan in the last few years and both times he made it a point, an emphatic point, a well-developed point, to tell me that he owes all of his entrepreneurial and managerial success to what he learned about what it means to be human in the Survey of World Literature course.  Both times he's told me, without any prompting from me, that what he learned about authenticity, goodness, and other deep aspects of being human has guided his success in the business world more than anything, that these stories and poems changed his life.  Gilgamesh.  Homer.  The Tao.  Rumi.  Those great ancient texts transformed Evan's thinking, his business practices, and his world view.  It wasn't the rigor.  It wasn't problem solving.  It was examining life's meaning and the depth of human experience that he owes his success to.  I know he's not alone.

3.  I like those sour ales as an after dinner drink and once I finished my club sandwich this afternoon, I ordered a sour farmhouse ale brewed by Logsdon and it was a perfect finish to my dinner.  (Sorry I don't remember its's off the tap list at the Stein so looking up its name was futile.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/19/14: Scrubbing, Sorting, The Promise of New Life

 1.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed the bathroom from floor to ceiling, making it brighter, nearly spotless.  Now a decision:  should it be painted?  Coin flip?

2.  I am nearly ready to give the last bookcase in my room away because I have now sorted through the books, set many aside for give away, and filled a single tub with the books I'm going to take with us when we move.  Next up:  cd's and dvd's and then a scrubbing of the walls and baseboards and trim.  

3.  I was asked to read the four Old Testament lessons from Exodus, Isaiah (2), and Ezekiel in tonight's Easter Vigil service. These readings capture some of the sweep of the history of salvation, through events and poetry that predate the Resurrection.  The readings are thrilling.  The story of the parting of the Red Sea is action-packed and the readings from the prophets are poetic and passionate.  These readings were each answered by McKay's reading of an appointed Psalm and then a reflective prayer, read by Father Bingham, and all of these readings and prayers were preceded by Loren Crow's gorgeous chanting of the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation).  Tonight's service also featured an adult baptism.  It was perfectly fitting to celebrate Austin's baptism within a service devoted to the Easter promise of new life. 


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/18/14: Downtown, Realtor Reality, I Used to be So Smart

1.  With parts of the interior of our house being painted, I got out of the house for a while and strolled downtown to see if I could snap some pictures I might like.  I didn't have a ton of success.  It was fairly empty downtown, but I did manage to take these:

2.  Every time we meet with our realtor, it all gets a little more real.  It won't be too much longer and we'll be showing our house, but we still have some work to do to get it ready.  Time to get some rubber gloves and rub on the elbow grease.

3.  A forty-five minute wait at Whirled Pies for our pizza and so I took my time enjoying a pint of Boneyard RPM IPA and as I listened to the wonderful millennials at the table right by mine talk about classes they were taking, reading they had to do, music festivals they'd been to and planned to enjoy, all the hiking, camping, and other outdoor activity that lay ahead, and, as I noted that a millennial guy near them had a book of David Hume's philosophy at his side, beside his pizza slice, and as I listened to his table mate, maybe his girlfriend, greet another student who'd come in, telling the friend she was taking a break from studying and would be back at it soon, I indulged in a little bit of graduate school nostalgia, thinking back to when I was reading big novels, plays, books of poetry, some criticism, squeezing in movies and how I'd sit with schoolmates over schooners of Henry Weinhard's Special Reserve and talk about classes we were taking and all the work we had to do and it was fun to feel once again how important it all felt over thirty years ago and what a blast it was to feel so smart when I was so young.  I've forgotten more stuff I studied back then than I know today. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/17/14: Lousy at Hinges, The Mighty Independent Clause, Intro to Tricerahops

1.  I'm just lousy in life when it comes to kitchen drawer and cabinet door handles and cabinet hinges.  Lousy.  Some of you are lousy at reading poetry.  Some of you can't shoot free throws.  Some of you are lousy auto mechanics.  We're all lousy at stuff.  I'm lousy at handles and hinges and it was a great relief to me today when the Deke said she'd take over the discussion of hinges and handles with the painters.  I hope I never have to think about hinges and handles again. I'll pay for them.  No problem.  I am simply very happy not to deal with them.

2.  How many of my students today left class with a clear understanding of the way the independent clause drives the English sentence?  I don't know yet, but I did everything in my power to try to explain and illustrate it today and to help my students with their sentence to sentence punctuation.  (By the way, I love dealing with this in class and love talking about it and, as I explained to my students, it's why I never get invited to parties.)

3.  Thanks to Siskanna's enthusiastic recommendation, I took a small break from the taps while having a beer with the guys I meet with on Thursdays and bought my first ever 22 oz. bottle of Ninkasi's Tricerahops Double IPA and I loved it.  I didn't realize that it is such a citrusy/grapefruity IPA and that's what I enjoy the most and I was really happy I gave it a go.   It's fun to have another beer in my wheelhouse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/16/14: Yard Guy, SUSAN!!!, Steady Kidneys

1.  The yard guy came over and we had a great talk about what his guys can do to spruce up our front and back yard in preparation for selling our house.  This is one aspect of this whole house selling project that bums me out.  I'd like to have the yard cleaned up and live with it and keep working on it!

2.  Susan!  Are you kidding me!  OMG!  Susan Denning posted on FB that she was in Eugene and she was staying at a bed and breakfast close to our house.  Luckily, we made contact with each other at a time when I wasn't out on futile efforts to buy hinges and drawer pulls, and I SAW HER right in front of our house.  Susan and I were housemates thirty years ago and I honestly don't remember the last time we saw each other, but we did today and it was thrilling for me, made me very happy, and it was fun to have a brief talk about moving, our kids, and people we both know.  Thrilling!

3.  I saw Dr. Ghadour for the next of my regular check ups with him and I am happy to say that things are still holding steady with my kidney function and other things.  As always, when I have blood work done, the hope is that no radical changes occur and none did.  The kidney disease doesn't, of course, disappear, but it's not suddenly progressing at any alarming rate either.  It continues to progress very slowly and that's good news.

Three Beautiful Things 04/15/14: Late Papers, Basic Understanding, Pasta BreakFast

1.  When I arrived at school, expecting several student papers in my email inbox, I discovered they weren't there.  This is a moment in a teacher's life when a teacher can either seethe inside at the unreliability of students or assume it was something else, not the students' fault.  I immediately chose the latter option.  I thought something must be fishy.  During class, I met alone with the handful of students whose papers did not come in and, lo and behold, almost all of them had sent them and it was a failure of the LCC email.  So, papers not coming in did not become a source of hectoring the students for not getting work in on time, being irresponsible, etc. etc., but became a source of laughter and a problem instantly solved.  (Exhale.)  I sure prefer the "no problem" approach to instruction over the rule bound, holding the students responsible, not trusting them approach. 

2.  To some of my students it might seem too elementary that I ask them to write down the central contrast in the article "Secrets of Happiness", that they see that the article deals with the difference between feel good and value-based happiness, but I ask them to do it anyway, because without this basic understanding of the article, all is lost.  My students did a good job with this today and it made me happy, in a value-based way!

3.  The painters have disassembled our kitchen and it's just easier to go out to eat and so we got to see our good buddies at Billy Mac's and I also got to break my months long pasta fast and enjoy some spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/14/14: Cassio, Paint, Kitchen

1.  I mailed the power cord to the Cassio electric piano to Patrick.  This was a big deal.  I also mailed the checks for the taxes.

2.  Paint purchased, the painters start their three day job tomorrow.

3.  My bedroom is now the kitchen.  Everything is out of the drawers and cabinets in bags, boxes, and laundry baskets in my room. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/13/14: Moving Forward, Taxes Filed, IPA YouTube Concert

1.  Boxes of kitchen stuff and books flew out the door to Goodwill and then I flew out the door to the back and got after the tons of weeds that have exploded into life since the rains stopped and the sun began shining.  I still have days of work out there to go, but I'm off to a pretty good start.

2.  I filled out the forms many weeks ago.  Now. Taxes filed.  Checks made out.  Relief felt -- just to be done.   Enjoying watching the finish of the Masters sweetened my mood to do this last bit of tax work.

3.  I relaxed after taxes and yard work with the Deke's fine black bean and wheat berry chili, some bottles of Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA (love the grapefruit biting my tongue) and a YouTube self-selected concert featuring videos of Paul Simon, Elton John, Ray Cooper, Mark Knopfler, and Eric Clapton.  Lots of great songs and lots of joy filling me up.  What fun!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Three Beautiful Things 04/12/14: More Stuff Done, Good Time/Lousy Pictures, Great Talk at Sixteen Tons

1.  We keep getting stuff done.  All kinds of stuff from the kitchen going out the door.  Painter looked over the main floor, measured rooms, talked about paint with us.  Gradually our stuff load lightens.

2.  Russell and I had a good afternoon with a fine lunch at Pure and a photo shoot at the Eugene Public Library book sale.  My pictures are lousy (oh well...), but it was really fun to run into Bill T and Jose and Michelle and Shirley.  I'm glad I can take lousy pictures and have a good time, too....

3.  The Deke and I had a great time at Sixteen Tons.  I went on a mini-IPA tour and the Deke got her stout on.  We had a great talk and had one of the best times ever at Sixteen Tons.