Wednesday, October 28, 2009

where hunger disturbs clear thinking

Just so you know, you, who remain patient throughout all vicissitudes of this blog and its author, the last time I was so short on sleep for days on end was when it was determined that one of my daughters (I wont say which one) was described by me, by her doctor too, as being very colicky.

No such issues are before me now.

I thought when Ed left for New York that I would “catch up.” You now how it is: you have an occasional traveling companion hanging around, all spare time disappears. Free time (meaning: time not spent on teaching or moonlighting) becomes his time. It’s just the way things work with occasional traveling companions.

But shockingly (or is it really shocking?), with Ed embroiled in never-ending litigation in New York, my free time hasn’t gone up to, say, 20% of my waking hours. It has gone down to zero.

Take today.

I wake up. Four hours of sleep. Damn. Still, I have class preparation and exam grading. I touch base with Ed. We review the forthcoming proceedings. He’s off to the courthouse, I’m off to campus.

And I work on my classes. Thankfully, all three classes that I teach are with magnificent groups of students. Life at school is less stressful than life after school.

Okay. Class is done. No moonlighting tonight! Finally – a free evening.

Free? I’m behind in reading the transcripts from yesterday’s proceedings. I catch up with those as I throw brussel sprouts into a pot. No fuss, no dice, just cook ‘em up quickly because I am hungry.

So hungry that I cannot think about what I am reading.

Ed is phoning on Skype. He has now a new day’s transcript of the court case. I listen and eat the stupid brussel sprouts. [Sorry, but eating a caseload of brussel sprouts reminded me of this morning’s article in the NYTimes, where one person, addicted to a sugar diet, commented that many people pretend they like what is good for them; I considered for a good five minutes whether I was lying to myself about loving brussel sprouts. I came to no firm conclusions there.]

We hang up. I read some more. I call back. We discuss. I read some more.

And now it is near midnight – the time of attending to Ocean. The time of fighting the droopy eyelid, the hazed over mind that refuses to focus. That time.

I know what’s ahead: I’ll fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, wake up with a start at two in the morning and force myself to rework the grammar of a very simple, very ill-constructed thought.

biking to work

Here it comes, I feel it! A dream laden moment of sleep. Don’t wake me if I doze off! Let me drift, let me think I have nothing to do when I wake up. So beautiful. So untrue.


Might it be that the best part of this day (of so many days) is the morning? No? But consider it: there is a mist playing with the low lying areas around me. Maybe mist is too delicate a term. Fog -- there is that. A pocket of fog. I don't experience it at first, when I set out...


...but eventually I see it. By the water. On the other side of the lake, for example.


So pretty! Lake water, sky, ducks, gulls, autumn leaves -- all in the tangy air of the early day.


Sure, on a day like this, no part seems hostile or cruel. On my noon hour walk down State Street, I am struck by how friendly the world is -- particularly that side of the world that walks on the sun-drenched side of the street.


Friendly and kind. On a beautiful day like today, I see the kindness is many, many small and large details. Consider the three sisters who came into the shop late in the evening. A joyous trio, ending a long and grueling day with a meal and then a quick shopping adventure. Their laughter was my laughter.

But I keep going back to the beginning of the day, when I woke up, unchained my bike and set out to campus. The forgiving mood was born then. On that snappishly cool ride along the foggy water's edge.