Wednesday, January 06, 2010

midwinter's night

a bitter cold here- actually it's only about five, but going down, and snow is coming, and that's pretty cold for here. a whole season, snow everywhere to the north, east and west, but we have yet to see anything but random sprinkles that sometimes fall up because they don't know up from down. christmas day was like this; in the end i decided it wasn't a white christmas, because it didn't stick.

but tonight is different- tomorrow is three kings day, the feast of the epiphany, the true christmas, or the twelfth night, depending on what you call it. and i, in the heart of vacation, took a bit of a nap earlier, and find myself sleepless. the bare tree, stripped and taken down, has been on the curb for about a week. the cold air shoots under the front door until i jam the rubber mat up against it and that seems to help. condensation forms on all the windows, all the time; now that it's break, we've been going around, removing it to prevent mold. break brings a time to actually watch this stuff, to see things you're too busy to see otherwise. i often spend break reviving old linguistics web pages or doing some other escapist-type activity, rather than focusing on what i could be doing with my teaching, or technology, or something more productive in a mainstream sense. this time, i've spent almost two weeks getting down to the purely relaxed, stress-free point where i can take a nap at night, wake up, and be alone here, have the house to myself. the kids are back in school; my wife has enough work to go to bed early, and hope we don't have a snow day. i myself hope we have one. i could make a snowman, easy.

on the news, the hawkeyes won, which is great, but i have a long-standing feud with the football hawkeyes because of their ugly symbol, and i find it impossible to cheer publicly for them. a young hollywood celebrity, daughter of the johnson-johnson fortune, died, unable to find her way in the world. deep down in the news, a remote village in peru is endangered because it's actually getting colder there; babies are dying, people are freezing, a community finds itself ready to give it all up. these, incredibly, are the only stories that touch me; i find myself insulating against the encroaching outside world, the furloughs at the u of i, for example.

my wife has talked me into a self-improvement program; in the spirit of this program, i commit publicly to the first of six ways i'd like to improve myself, namely, keeping my coffee consumption down to reasonable amounts, more specifically, two in the morning, one in the afternoon. none now, at midnight, for example, no matter how much grading i've got. of course i want to lose ten pounds, clean the garage and the office, and get my writing on the market, especially the online market. but this might take time & a little planning. getting coffee under control is one thing i can do now. the main question, or doubt, that i have about a resolution is this- how do you keep your elemental being from adjusting in some way to something you deprive it of? for example, my wife gives up the maple syrup on her pancake, so she puts more butter on it, to compensate. what's the point? if i fill my life with all the work i can jam in there, something will lose, if i really tackle the garage...won't it?...i somehow feel that those minutes that i'm in my chair, exhausted, unable to move or do anything but a sudoku, just won't go away. i've got to have them. no self-improvement will really bulldoze my peace & quiet. i'm all for self-improvement though. i'll give it an honest try, and let you know how it works out. coffee is a good place to start. it was getting out of hand there, for a while.

finally, the youtube. why anyone would come along and routinely give these things ones, is beyond me. i've been scratching my head over that, a little hurt in the feelings. did they even listen to it? did they think that a "1" meant excellent? i don't think so. i think it's life in the fast lane, they are competing for the five slots, and i'll have to learn how to clean out my cache, give myself a "5" over & over, like everyone else- jump back in the ring. also, i find that a large percentage of my facebook fans probably didn't even see it...that would be my guess. i don't watch every youtube they put up, and i don't know if they actually make them, and i didn't really say, explicitly, that i had made this one. so, it kind of slipped under the radar, and maybe that's just as well. the question i make more? if so, which?

the night inches on to morning; i'm wide awake. i actually find it hard to get the twenty minutes, half hour by a single computer, even in the middle of the day, without throwing off one of the kids, making someone unhappy, or leaving the house. and i don't want to leave the house. so much to do, yet so little will, to even bully my way to a single computer where i could do it. that's break for you. let it snow...i'll go out, and get me some fresh air, for a change.


Anonymous bruce said...

Your sister-in-law gave up caffeine recently, sends you congratulations on getting coffee down.

3:12 PM  

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