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Showing posts from December, 2013

Pictures of a life you'll never know

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The part of Philomena that was most meaningful to me was the way she periodically runs through home movie pictures of the son she lost to forced adoption. They are flickering images of a childhood she was never a part of, glances of a boy she only imagines. This hit me because it is exactly what happens when you have lost a child. My first son, Calvin, was stillborn nearly 13 years ago, and I still see flashes of the boy he might have been in my mind, in certain postures of his living siblings, in the faces of the growing-up-so-fast children of friends. A long time ago, I stopped trying to compare suffering, but I am pretty sure that women like Philomena Lee, who were hidden from the world in the shame of their pregnancy then had their children taken from them and never knew what happened to them, had it much worse than me.

In the movie, we eventually see that the images she has been "imagining" are actually drawn from a reel of images from her son's life with his adopt…

Venue of Vultures

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On the way to a walk by the river, I saw a venue of turkey vultures trooping around on the banks of the Hocking. I thought at first they were geese. There are a lot of geese here, as everywhere. But geese don't have red heads, and geese do not have a 7-foot wing span. There were perhaps 12 or 15 birds. Most of them were hunched in a familiar vulture pose, but 4 or 5 of them had their wings fully extended to catch the sunshine. (Venue is the collective word for vultures on the ground, according too the kind people of TrekOhio, who also note that the Latin name for this bird, "Cathartes aura, means either golden purifier or purifying breeze." Let us respect the carrion eaters for they purify our world.)

On the walk itself, the only birds I saw were geese, robins, and grackles. Is it an illusion that when I was a kid Canada geese and robins were truly migratory? I recall the wonder of the first robin of spring. Was I just not paying attention all winter? I know the living …

Insomnia in Plaid

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My sleep patterns are disrupted here. However there's a fireplace in the sitting room that makes being mysteriously awake at 3 a.m. seem like a luxury. Thursday night, I read on the couch and talked to Bette, the aging bassett-retriever, until I fell back asleep at dawn. Hoping for a repeat this morning, I got up in the dark and came downstairs to find it was nearly 7 and my mother was up with a computer in her lap.

It's no surprise that my sleep is off. It usually is. I don't conform well to the 8-hour sleep schedule, and I fantasize about a life where I can both be a productive member of society and sleep whenever the whim strikes me. My friend Harris pointed me towards the idea of "second sleep" or "segmented sleep" when I complained of this in the spring. There is historical documentation to support the idea that pre-industrial people (i.e., those not beholden to the factory clock and the world it created) tended to wake in the night and made use o…

Oh, hello there.

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It's been a while. I've been teaching full time this fall and managing to write some non-blog writing (see below) and trying to tend to my home life at least a little, and so this space has been neglected. I have missed it. I recently told my friend Karen, who keeps a lovely sketching blog, which also sometimes is neglected, that we should make a pact to rededicate ourselves to this funny enterprise.

And so here I am on Boxing Day at the Donkey with a bag of books and a computer. I just finished writing thank you notes to students for holiday gifts. I am planning to see a very long movie about a "greedy, strong, and wicked worm" later today. Each day of vacation is supposed to include reading, writing, exercise, school prep, family time, and good food. I've accomplished three and a half of these so far.

Reading: A Separate Peace by John Knowles, brushing up for school. I have a bunch of other books here too. More on those as the days develop. Have you read Separa…