Friday, September 14, 2012

took a nasty spill today, and it really set me back, because, about a year and a half ago, i took a nasty spill and had a sore shoulder for almost nine months. the fact is, i'm getting older and don't recover as easily, i end up sore and stay that way, and, i really need this shoulder, it's my fiddling shoulder, I don't want it falling off.

happened like this: it rained and rained hard today. this is quite unusual for lubbock. we are not used to the fact that with just a couple inches of rain, whole corners and streets will be flooded with a couple of feet of water for hours, maybe all day. it so happens that one of these corners is flint and nineteenth, merely a block from our house; though we only have to ride/walk about five blocks, or maybe ten, to get virtually anywhere on campus, we always have to go through that corner and it gets hard to ride a bicycle through more than a couple of feet of water. going around is possible but presents its hazards also. so there i was on campus and my wife was texting/calling hoping she could bring the car by, so as to not have to drive through flint and nineteenth and i'm messing with my phone and carrying my bicycle helmet in the rain when my feet go out from under me and i land flat on my front, fortunately my helmet protected my face; i more or less landed on my helmet. only my shoulder suffered really, and it's getting better, so i'll stop yapping. but i was pretty covered, all up my front, with the foot or so of puddle i landed in.

once when i fell off a roof i decided, life is short, better get all that stuff done now, quick while you can, so that's in essence what i'm doing, and i'm staying up late, all charged up about my final linguistics lecture of the week. it so happens we're doing phonetics and phonology, and this is one of my favorite topics: why do languages change? what accounts for variation and dialects? why do people shift vowels without even knowing it? i'm going to lay it out for them tomorrow. i'm interested in when you can call something a dialect, and when you can call it a language. or, when is it a vowel shift, and when is it just a dialect. i've got all this linguistics in my head because i've got to teach this complex class to these poor undergraduates and they're like, what's up with this. so i say to them, it is what it is, and you have to study it. the northern cities vowel shift. the great vowel shift of 1300-1600. the southern dialect. all that cool stuff.

it's cooler here now, after the rain, and that leaves me charged up, even less able to sleep, and worried about my new life in texas and whether i will just be reduced to being a retiree who hangs around and does Facebook every afternoon instead of teach esl classes as i always used to. it's like, i never got back to 100%, i needed a break so bad, now it's hard for me to get back into the groove. i love teaching linguistics, love teaching i.t.a.'s, love the writing lab, but i come home every afternoon, eat and do facebook. can't quite get back to 100%. then the rains come and just about wash me away.

buddy holly went to my sons's school, so i got into listening to his music and trying to figure out how such a geeky guy could be so enormously popular so long after his death. went to not fade away and found a number of people who had wished him happy birthday (this was about a week ago) right on that site, right on that day. still very much in people's hearts, both here in lubbock and nationwide, still having an audience, getting a reaction. and he's pretty much of a 50's dude, and he proves the idea that the 50's went right up into about 1962 or so, maybe after his plane crash everyone said, ok, enough with the 50's, time for the 60's. it was a pretty interesting time. i'm not sure how he felt about kennedy or the cuban missile crisis, but he was a pretty good student at the elementary school, i hope my kids can keep up the good pattern.

this is definitely a city; we hear a lot of ambulances and police cars. traffic lines up when they don't want to drive through three feet of water. dozens of arrests every day, all kinds of things going on. we are sheltered a little from west texas reality; we live right near campus; our lives are red and black, 18-22, idealistic. we aren't the only bike riders. i don't know what people do about the "playas" which is what one guy called them. hey, if they don't go away, you just have to live with them. 50th and quaker has one, so they say. that would really mess things up; half the town goes through 50th and quaker. seems like the other half goes through flint and nineteenth.

back in the old days, you could lose a whole volkswagen going through a playa like one of those. these days everyone drives these huge trucks, and they whip through them, and sometimes they splash. sometimes they are extraordinarily polite; I like that. one guy acted like he knew he would get me if he plowed through the playa and he actually slowed down, so he wouldn't. also, when i fell, people called out to me from two different directions, to see if i needed help. it was very nice. a kind of genuine helpfulness, impressive. i'm not sure you'd see that in illinois.

but my shoulder is sore, and i'm feeling older by the minute. thank god tomorrow is friday. i'll give my knockout lecture, then i'll basically recover. it'll take me days. i can't believe the news, libya, egypt, new york city, guatemala, it's a crazy world, there's no accounting for it. they want my sons to say the pledge of allegiance. then they want them to say some pledge for texas too. then they also have some song that says their school is best. well yeah, buddy holly went there, but, hey, i was distracted. the point is, my ten-year-old says, why do we have to say stuff if we don't necessarily believe it? he's still missing his school in illinois. and i don't blame him. i was never big on forced recitations either. this, i think, might be genetic, since my dad once said the same thing. you can do them in a presbyterian church, if you think that, by repeating them enough, you'll finally come to believe them. believe? whatev. maybe it's just nice to all stand up, and be together, and all do the same thing, just once. maybe.


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