Today I wore a brand new blue shirt to work. It was a present from Jon. And while I am one of those lucky girls who receives occasional gifts-at-random from her hubby, this time he had a reason. You see, today I turned 23.
This is the twenty-third birthday I've celebrated (though only the 19th that I can remember). Unfortunately, I did have to go into work today. Still, my mother, the woman who gave birth to me, is my boss. I suppose I'm lucky she likes to celebrate this day... when it remains to be a fairly painful memory for her. Hehe.
To celebrate, she took me to lunch in downtown Pleasanton. We had lots of options, but on a whim we headed for The English Rose. It looked like an antique store from the outside, and we were very surprised at what we found within. A delightful, cozy dining room with antique furnishings and soft music playing. It was a real tea room!
Our afternoon tea was delicious! We opted for the Queen's menu: finger sandwiches, "a variety of savories," scones with clotted cream and lemon curd, and tiny desserts (including petite fores!). The hostess offered a very, very wide variety of teas. I'm no daredevil, so I chose the house specialty, an English Rose blend. Mom went the British Colonial India route. Yummy!
So, that was a sweet way to spend the first afternoon of my twenty-third year on earth. We went back to finish out a long day at the office.
At home I curled up with Jonathan on the couch. Together we sat very still. I could hear his heart beating, the cat purring. All was right with my world. (Yesterday I received my final grades from last quarter... A-,A,A-... OH YEAH!) Then, after we'd unwound enough to be witty and cute again, Jon and I shared about our respective days. His was productive, too.
But the night wasn't over. We got all spruced up and headed to Santana Row in San Jose for dinner. Jon got us reservations at Left Bank, a French restaurant that sounded sufficiently romantic and memorable. As we strolled down the pretty street, arm in arm, the misting rain settling on our hair and eyelashes, I had to sigh.
Left Bank was all it was cracked up to be. The waitstaff was friendly and quick to get us seated and fed. The menu included everything from duck to lamb to sausages and apples (Jon's pick). I ordered the special, airline chicken cordon bleu. Scrumptious! The portions were just small enough to leave us wanting dessert. Chocolate fondue for two. We skewered homemade marshmallows and slices of strawberry, dunked them in the succulent melted chocolate... and decided we'd wandered right into heaven. Fondue and true love? Can it get any better than this?
(I submit that it cannot!)
We're home now. Jon is stretched out in the recliner, dreaming about binary numbers and the superiority of Windows to the other lame operating systems (i.e. Linux... I just like the penguin). Our cats are happy we're home; it means that they get dinner soon! And I have my favorite German raspberry candies, another treat from Jonathan, to enjoy before bed time.
Hooray for turning twenty-three!
Today was a tired day. It also turned out to be a Walmart day. I breezed through the sliding doors at Walmart and was greeted by an elderly, toothless gentleman in a blue vest, four separate times. Inexplicable. But the trips were necessary. This was the first chance I've had in months to scrapbook, and I had fallen so far behind! The last time I sat down to record the fun, memorable events of my life was in November! Early November!
Disneyland inspired me. We'd taken loads of pictures, most of them very colorful, as we had spring-like weather for most of our visit. At Walmart (and then at Target... how I got there, I don't know... it was all in an arts-n-crafts haze...) I purchased a few cute stickers and a variety of colored cardstock. In my brain swirled the many different templates and themes for which each page had unlimited potential!
Geeky? Give me a break. I wasn't worrying about grammar or punctuation or reworking a flimsy thesis. And, after a while, my creative mind was jump-started. Just the outcome I'd been hoping for.
You see, recently I've been suffering from major bouts with Swiss Cheese Brain (SCB... this is a self-diagnosis). Symptoms include short term memory loss, a lack of motivation, an inability to call up the correct words during conversation... or, in the most serious of cases, during everyday thought processes.
For example, I spent half an hour coming up with the word "articulate" the other day on the tram ride into Disneyland. Poor Jon. He sat there smiling at me while I expounded on the importance of a child's linguistic education beginning in the home. It happened in the midst of a sentence like this one:
Eventually, it is the foundational experiences of conversations with parents and older siblings that whets an individual's capacity to _______________ his thoughts during heated or otherwise animated conversation.
Okay, so I probably didn't say that. It's the kind of thing I might mean to say, and it's definitely the kind of thing I would write in a term paper to emphatically make a point. But, as a victim of SCB, what comes tumbling out of my mouth is invariably akin to the following:
When a kid has to hold his own during a confrontation, he will more likely draw on his experiences with his parents than his experiences in school in order to... eloquate... his feelings.
That's right, I said "eloquate," which is not, in fact, a word. But that's what us SCB sufferers do when we're backed into a verbal corner. Try and understand before you judge my Seussism, that inventing pretend words is a last resort. It is very difficult to be an eloquent person, and then to find oneself paralyzed mid-conversation and drained dry of all intelligent-sounding words. I hate that. (Right now I can't think of another word for "intelligent-sounding," and it's killing me!)
Today I worked with pictures and markers and double-sided tape to preserve memories of holidays with family, birthdays, vacations and the like. Sometimes pictures are easier to deal with than words. I'm honestly floored that I was able to write this much for the blog this evening. Thank goodness I had something to say!
Now if only Davis offered Picture Books 101...
Oh, my. Time does fly. It feels like just yesterday we were frantically cleaning our house and packing our stuff for the long drive to Anaheim. But really, we left on Thursday morning... er... Thursday around lunch time. And, after enjoying the long weekend in our favorite place on earth, we drove home, refreshed. And no, we did not trade in the Audi for a tiny green car. We got the chance to enjoy Autopia for the first time in ages (I don't know why it always has such a long line... I mean... it's just... driving. In minature. Oh, okay, I get it. Hehe.)
I'd forgotten what vacation felt like. To really have no where to be, nothing due... to sleep in with a completely clear conscience. We revelled.
That is not to say that I caught up on my sleep quota entirely. I intend to sleep some tomorrow, too. School, after all, doesn't start until Wednesday. Perhaps I'll scrapbook, or paint my toenails, maybe take a bubble bath, or alphabatize our movie collection, or read a fun book at Starbucks, or count down the seconds until I turn 23.
Whatever the case, I will do it while remembering our most recent trip to Disneyland with a huge smile. We had a great time. Even though Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for renovations, and even though that meant the Blue Bayou was closed, too, Jon and I took our time going on the rides that we love the most. Along the way we had great food, and we met up with Teather several times.
(Quick explanation: Teather refers to Ted-and-Heather, my brother and sister-in-law. This was their first trip to the Magic Kingdom together. Together we had a great time!)
- Sleeping in.
- Getting the front seats on Space Mountain... without trying for 'em.
- Trying Splash Mountain for the first time in a LONG time, and getting very wet (here Jon would like to add that he was soaked... I was damp... whatever).
- Me winning TWICE at Astro Blasters! (No one believes me? Okay, the first time Jon's gun was broken. But the second time was legit, and I had to fight for it!)
- Watching Pluto sneak up on Jon and scare him. Hehe.
- Enjoying the fireworks show and dancing to the music at the end.
- Enjoying Fantasmic (our favorite).
- Listening to a swing band cut a rug at the Pavillion near the castle. Subsequently watching the old folks get their respective grooves on. One couple in particular, ancient, clad in matching pink and black eveningwear, got a tad risque. And yes, we got it on video!
- Dancing with Jon to some very slow swing music.
- Playing checkers near the pot belly stove in one of the shops on Main Street.
- Eating at the Rainforest Cafe with Teather. Ted ordered "Electric Lemonade" which came in a blinking glass! He was so excited about it that he ordered a second glass to take home. I think he would have cleaned the place out of colorful, blinking glasses if Heather hadn't reigned him in.
- Reading aloud to Jon out of a Disney trivia book on the drive home.
- Tower of Terror. Ted came on it with us, though I think he may have regretted that decision in the end. Oh well. The ride still ROCKS!
- Getting free Boudin sourdough bread samples at the mini-factory in California Adventure.
Okay, that's enough. There was so much to do. And we never felt rushed, not once. Perhaps that was the best part. The breathing that went along with all the having of the fun. I've missed that. Jon, too, with all his recent travels, has missed that.
This was Trip 12. A dozen times we've visited, and I'm sure we'll try for another dozen. Each time there are new things to do. And we don't look at everything the same way, either. Seasons change in the park, so do people. I notice new things on the rides.
Besides, it's a happy place. When we're there, the rest of the world does melt away. The fact that my grades for last quarter haven't posted yet, or that I didn't make it into the writing class, or that I'm oh-so-close to graduation... it fades. Suddenly I'm just a carefree girl standing next to a carefree boy, and we are wishing on the same shooting star. Idyllic? Sure. Necessary in this crazy world? Absolutely.
Yesterday I received the following email:
Dear 100F-1 applicants,
Thank you so much for submitting your applications for the spring quarter 100F-1 class. I enjoyed reading all of your stories, and wish that I could offer all of you a place in my class. Unfortunately, there were 53 applicants for 15 spaces, and the quality of writing was extremely competitive across the board. At this time I am unable to offer you a place in the class. Please know that you are all strong writers and it was not an easy task to make this selection. It was extremely difficult.
Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to read your work, and I wish you the best of luck in your writing futures.
And now I have to ask myself... where did I fall on the range of the 38 students who were denied entrance into the class. Let's assume, because she didn't say anything to the contrary, that I was number 16. Maybe I was a mere hair's width from making it in.
In fact, she wanted me in her class desperately, but the poor woman had no choice. Ever since she ran over her neighbor's cat, and the teenage boy down the street saw the whole thing... I mean, he was blackmailing her! That's right! He came to her office hours late one evening, dressed in a trench coat and fedora. When he pushed the door open quietly and eased inside, he smirked when she asked, "Can I help you?"
"For your sake," he replied, "I do hope so."
From there he went on to relate what he saw, to display the digital video recording of her silver hybrid obliterating Fluffy, the sweet Persian cat who was blind in one eye. This, he explained, is damning evidence.
Ms. Angel, an upstanding citizen who had not even a parking ticket to her name, an active member in PETA, a major contributor to the fight against breast cancer, an organ donor, would not be swayed. She had no idea she'd hit a cat that day! It had been raining and the pavement was wet; when the sun came through the clouds, she was temporarily blinded. And, she added, she actually been contemplating the grace and goodness of God when the light had shone down upon her. Ms. Angel informed her visitor that he'd better leave. She would pay a visit to the cat's owner the following afternoon to apologize and offer to pay for the cat.
The boy rose from his chair, seemingly defeated, but just before he exited, he turned to look Ms. Angel dead in the eye. "Just be careful when you stop by the Mortgensens' house tomorrow," he said. "Fluffy was little Toby's favorite pet. And his uncle is a high powered Los Angeles attorney."
And just like that, the boy was gone.
Ms. Angel had a difficult choice ahead of her. Toby Mortgensen was a nine-year-old boy who had been awarded a medal by the mayor of Davis when he started a lemonade booth, to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and eventually netted more than $5,000 worth of aid! He was a delicate little boy with a big heart, and he had the most heartbreakingly blue eyes in the world. How could anyone, especially Ms. Angel, who loved children, stand to hurt him more?
When she walked out of her office door, a piece of paper that had been wedged in the door frame fluttered to the ground, coming to rest in the pale trickle of streetlamp light through the door of Voorhies Hall. In block letters it read:
ONCE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND, MEET ME AT MISHKA'S ON SECOND.
Beneath the letters was a crude sketch of a hairy cat with X's for eyes. Ms. Angel cringed, crumpling the paper in her right hand. But what choice did she really have?
She pushed through the door at Mishka's, oblivious to the normally tempting aroma of coffee and ginger cookies. At the very back of the room sat the grim reaper, the boy with the knowledge to make Ms. Angel the most hated woman in Davis. Their eyes met, coldly, and neither of them smiled. This was business.
Within five minutes they had struck a deal. The boy would hand over the only copy of the digital video, and in return Ms. Angel would buy and anonymously donate a new Persian kitten to Toby, and she would give her blackmailer's older sister, Gert, automatic entrance into her Spring 100F class. It was a hard bargain for Ms. Angel, for whom the rewarding of excellent, budding fiction writers was sacrosanct.
That was in January. As March drew to a close, Ms. Angel worried. She hadn't heard from her blackmailer since that day at Mishka's. Could it be he had forgotten? No application had been received from Gert. There was a chance that God had taken pity on Ms. Angel, that he'd allowed the gift of the kitten to be penance enough. She scoured the entries, 52 promising authors ready for their dreams to be realized in her classroom.
Before her daydream of discovering the next Earnest Hemmingway could materialize further, the door to her office burst open and a warm but strangely threatening breeze rushed across her desk. She didn't need to raise her eyes to know that her ticket was up.
"There," he said, dropping a thick manuscript onto her desk with a clunk. "As soon as I see Gert is in your class, this will all be over."
He swirled his trench coattails dramatically as he left. Ms. Angel looked at the fifteen names she'd already selected, the lucky fifteen. And then she turned her eyes heavily to the ream of paper submitted by her visitor. Ever the cockeyed optimist, Ms. Angel turned the first page to give it a read. Not three sentences in, she gave a short, exasperated cry. It was already as slow and convoluted as paste on a cold day.
A promise, however, was a promise. She shut her eyes tight, squeezed against the horrific decision she was about to make. One tear, alone but nevertheless symbolic of her inner pain, slid down her cheek to her chin, falling to the floor with a tiny splash. And then she crossed out a name on her list.
She opened her eyes to find that
Audrey J. Camp had been eliminated. For this student, this aspiring author, Spring was not going to be the perfect season. But, Ms. Angel justified to herself, she didn't know Audrey Camp from anybody. Perhaps this young woman was not hinging her hopes and dreams of a writing career on entry into this class.
Yes, Ms. Angel decided. Surely, to Audrey Camp, this would not matter at all.
When I opened the email, I was surprised. Honestly, my self-confidence when it comes to my writing has taken a noticeable turn for the better over just the last year, and I owe a lot of that to my blog. So I expected to get in. Now, I admit I didn't know exactly how competitive entry really was. I thought the class would have at least thirty students in it. As I was saying, I opened the email and then I cried. Jon comforted me.
He said, "Audrey, you were trying to get into a writing program at a UC school. If you really wanted to get in, you would have written a story about lesbian love affairs and how much Bush sucks!"
While I'm sure he's right, and that someone is now on track to publication because she was more willing to be subversive, the fact that I only have butterfly stories to offer remains to be depressing. Surely I must have something deeper than that in me.
Tomorrow I am off to Disneyland with my true love. We're not really escaping, since the vacation has been planned for a while. But I won't say that I am not grateful for the time away. The last thing I want to think about is the fact that I didn't make it into the one class I've had to try-out for. The most magical place on earth will probably make the temporary forgetting a tad easier.
But then, instead of writing myself off (pardon the pun), I intend to take a step back, gain some perspective, and write some more. Never will I find myself in a position where I have nothing to say. That's the great thing about being an English major with a big imagination. And I'll redefine what I consider to be good writing. Believing I could mold a story about childhood into something worthy of a college creative writing class wasn't realistic, but I wouldn't say it was a pipe dream either. I may be rejected a thousand times before someone stops to consider me twice, and maybe to give me a break. Won't this all be worth it then? I certainly hope so.
Until that time, though, I will console myself with the hope that I was close this time, and that next time I will be even closer.
Last night, Jon and I met our friends for dinner and a movie, specifically Mexican food, martinis and V for Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman. We really enjoyed it.
Evey, a young woman suffering under the rigid controls of futuristic totalitarian society (in Great Britain), is rescued by a masked vigilante who goes by the name "V". It is his intention to educate the oppressed people of Britain, all of whom have forgotten the beauties of freedom, to give them back the idea of individualism.
"Ideas," he says, "are bulletproof."
The movie is violent and dark, but there is an element of much-needed dry comedy added through the wit of the police inspector. Portman handles her character with poise, and she earns the sympathy of the audience, more and more at each turn.
Some of the plot twists are unfortunately predictable, but the predominately intelligent dialog makes up for it. And this movie is full of explosions. Definately not a chick flick.
I don't think I'd call it escapist, exactly, because no one wants the world to end up like this. Some have even suggested that this movie promotes terrorism. (The "hero" is based on an historical character, Guy Fawkes, a man who attempted to blow up the houses of parliament.) However, Americans can best enjoy this movie as citizens of a country that was also forced to fight for her freedom.
Like I said, if you want explosions, detective work, revolution and alliteration... Jon and I both recommend this film.
Three years ago, Jon talked me into trying a new sport with him. The climbing gym in Concord, Touchstone Climbing, was exactly half way between my apartment in Davis and his place in Livermore. So, because we made that drive all the time, he thought it would be great if we picked up climbing as something to do together.
In the beginning we went three times a week, minimum. And we improved at about the same rate. But, by the time the wedding rolled around, and then the commute to school became a solo thing for me, our number of climbing dates dwindled. Thankfully there was an alternative to the rope-in climbing we'd been enjoying. Jon began bouldering twice a week. Little did he know how far this new hobby would take him.
A year later, Jon is now very good at bouldering. The scale of difficulty for bouldering problems is fairly simple. To give you an idea, I can handle most V0 problems, some V1s. Once, I pulled off a V2 (much to my proud husband's, delight). But that was ages ago. As an intermediate level climber, Jon is in the V4-V6 range.
When the chain our gym belongs to announced a bouldering competition series, with one meet at each of the six gyms over a span of five months, Jon got that gleam in his eye. He'd done some minor, miscellaneous competing before. But never anything big like this.
So, he went to every single one of the competitions. And each time his score improved. I went to three of the six to cheer him on, keep score for him, hold his chalk bag, consult with him on which problems to climb, rub his shoulders between runs, boo his competitors... okay, not that last part. I'm a very good sport.
Last night was the final competition, the culmination of the blood, sweat, sore muscles, aching toes, broken finger nails, chalky skin, etc. Jon had a great time. His parents came to help me cheer him on. I took these great pictures. We stayed for the announcing of the scores. And, even though it wasn't Jon's best single night (he came in 27th in his bracket), the overall standing was a thrill!
After all was said and done and climbed, Jon was 5th overall in the Men's Intermediate Category, with 87,020 points!
Now that is awesome. And I am so proud.
(P.S. He went shirt shopping on his own... I cannot take the blame for it.)
Whether or not one believes in Heaven, or in God, or in god, there is simply no arguing that life for a single being on this earth comes once, and then only briefly. At the end of a person's life, his heart stops beating and his eyes fade. His family sheds tears and pays for the pine box in which to bury him. Then, at the head of his grave, a tombstone is pounded into the earth to mark his place in time. Upon the stone are words that sum up his achievements, or the number of people he leaves behind. Sometimes there is no stone at all.
These thoughts are not romantic ones; they breed fear. We worry about the end. We worry about our own disenchantment with life, and with the disenchantment of those that we love. Anxiety is fundamental to our existence as humans, fueling our actions, both good and bad. If we're not careful, the constant pressure of the murky future can leave us with anxiety's bitter aftertaste: regret. Because anxiety has existed longer than poetry itself, it is not surprising that poets across ages and continents have tried to deal with it, justify it, and soothe it for centuries.
In the early 19th century, a very young John Keats was churning out many amazing, memorable poems. He had suffered a great deal early on, losing family members to tuberculosis, and his own life spanned only twenty-six years. But he had no real way of knowing his life was coming to so short a close when he wrote one beautiful and untitled poem, contemplating the finiteness of life and love.
He begins by noting that he 'fears that [he] may cease to be/ Before [his] pen has glean'd [his] teeming brain' (1-2). Keats' anxiety stems from his urge to create! Inside his mind are words, thousands of smooth slippery words, jostling about like fish in a crowded stream. The desperation of not being able to write all of those words down is killing him. Interestingly, Keats' does not fear death as much as he fears being unable to fulfill he own destiny before he ceases to be, however that might happen. He remarks on his true love, as well, fearing that he might 'Never have relish in the faery power/ Of unreflecting Love!' As an intelligent individual, Keats relies on his logic to help him rid himself of those feelings. He chooses 'then on the shore/ Of the wide world [to] stand alone and think/ Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink'.
While unfortunately gloomy, Keats' poem still provides a kind of resolution. Throughout the work he turns to the heavens, considering the night and the stars and the clouds. When 'Love and Fame to nothingness do sink,' he has found his answer. No man is infinite. His small space on the spectrum of time is what makes huge concepts like love and fame, and even poetry itself, become trivial. The tone of his poem deftly encourages the reader to slow down and realize this idea. Heavy pauses settle the end of each line, and within each line are perfectly-chosen words to encourage slow consideration. For instance, 'cease' in the first line and 'behold' in the fifth evoke contemplation. And there are lighter moments, too, when Keats pushes the reader back into the optimistic, naive mindset that exists before such realizations about mortality are made. Just mentioning 'high romance,' the 'magic hand of chance,' and 'faery power' allows for an endorsement of the theory that ignorance is bliss.
While Keats' anxiety concerned only himself, Evean Boland, a 20th century American poet, expressed the inevitable anxieties of life on a completely different level: that of a mother. In her fresh, story-telling voice, Boland sketches out the parallel between an old Greek myth and her own biography in 'The Pomegranate'. Unique word choice and bold honesty put Boland and her reader on the same empathetic level.
The myth of Ceres and Persephone is found in the intricate mythology of both the Greeks and the Romans; and, as Boland illustrates so well, the story is timeless. A mother must make a difficult choice to spare her daughter from the cruel realities of life, love and time; she makes a literal deal with the devil in order to postpone the education of the gleefully oblivious Persephone. Here the similarities to Keats' ideas about the importance of keeping childlike faith in life abound.
As 'The Pomegranate' unfolds, it moves from Boland's childhood, when she was in Persephone's role, into her adulthood, when she is suddenly the mother. The poem is about disenchantment with life, and it begins as a flashback and ends in the present. But the anxiety in the poem is still about the future. Its focus is on the future of Boland's daughter. Boland knows that winter is 'in store for every leaf/ On every tree' in her daughter's life (20-21). Winter is a classic metaphor for the end, the death of something, in this case a belief in the infinity of youth. As painful as it is for Boland to recall her own disenchantment with the world, she can't quite bring herself to rip Persephone's band-aid off quickly. She 'could warn her' (42). But Boland's decision is to 'give her daughter... such beautiful rifts in time,' refusing to 'defer the grief' lest she 'diminish the gift' (47-49). In other words, Boland resolves that the anxiety is worth it as long as the memories of childhood magic can carry her through.
Boland utilizes creative imagery to set an ethereal tone in the beginning, setting up her own 'story of a daughter lost in hell/ And found and rescued there' (2-3). She was 'a child in exile in/ a city of fogs and strange consonants' (8-9). Beautifully Boland tells the tale, effortlessly skipping through time, even though it is the existence of time that eventually leads to her disenchantment. As a mother she understands Ceres' anxiety over the well-being of her daughter. The 'whitebeams' and 'honey-scented buddleias' are pictures of perfection that are associated with childhood, when everything seems perfect (17-18).
When winter comes, though, Boland turns to the sky. She finds that 'the stars are hidden' (25). Persephone is growing up and, in an Eve-like move, she has 'plucked a pomegranate', the forbidden fruit (33). Does the pomegranate represent love or innocence? Whatever the pomegranate symbolizes, to Boland it is the 'French sound for apple and/ the noise of stone', two opposites wedged together in one word, one tempting fruit. When expressed that way, the pomegranate becomes the truth of life: beautiful and delicious, but heavy and final. Boland does go back to the stars after reaching her epiphany about allowing her daughter to experience life as Persephone as long as possible, but this time 'the veiled stars are above ground. It is another world' (45-46).
Neither of these poems is terribly optimistic. Anxiety is unavoidable because the choices in life are unavoidable. However, one poet eloquently points out the hope that can at least calm an anxious heart. Yosa Buson, a renowned Japanese poet of the 18th century, is remembered for his contributions to art and literature. Most of all, his many haikus have withstood the test of time because they are cloaked in wisdom like that which we see here:
Not quite dark yet
and the stars shining
above the withered fields.
Buson concisely represents a metaphor of anxiety about the future, very similar that seen in previous poems. The darkness of night is coming, inevitably coming. And the fields are withered, dying because of impending winter. Yet, there in the center, Buson considers the heavens. In the stars he finds his answer. Gauging the stars gives Buson a sense of time and place. By comparison, he and his troubles are small. Night, while unavoidable, can also be appreciated in the beauty of the stars with which it comes. The fields are withered, but in the starlight he can still see them, rather than being lost in complete blackness. Indeed, Buson takes only three lines to find the bright side of the story.
Humanity will struggle with anxiety forever. The many pressures of life and age will only multiply from now until the end of time. Poets will most likely continue to try and decipher the mystery of the root of anxiety, while simultaneously attempting to cure it. Keats was anxious about his own mortality, and the idea that he might never fulfill his destiny as a writer. A century later, Boland began to understand that anxiety that comes with motherhood, the worries about her daughter's future. And before either of these great poets could take on this battle, a clear-minded man with a penchant for simplicity sat down to consider a winter evening settling on his fields.
All three poets chose to look to the stars for answers. Really, though, the answer lay in their respective pasts. Long before a man's tombstone is written, and before his life is really led, he is a boy who believes in infinite summer, in the immortality of his parents and in Santa Claus. No man can escape anxiety about the future, but he can escape into the memories of all the times he was allowed to believe in magic.
It is snowing! In Livermore!
Jon and I had just finished watching The March of the Penguins (which is wonderful and real... and made me cry) when we glanced out the window and saw the big, fluffy snowflakes floating down through the darkness. Of course we immediately grabbed the nearest coats and scarves, the camera, and we ran out into our little street. I danced under the streetlamp with my hands out, relishing the icy droplets as they sprinkled all over me. How amazing! Jon snapped pictures. It's blurry, but it's true... SNOW!
The irony is that we'd been looking forward to a weekend at a friend's cabin with a group of our pals. A snuggly weekend in the mountains, where we'd definately see snow. But today, because of the wild weather, our hosts (wisely) called off the trip. Soon roads were being closed because of the snow, the wind, the lightening.
Jon and I were bummed. We'd wanted a relaxing, cozy weekend surrounded by snow.
Tonight our wish came true. And when we stood in the frozen, still night air and touched our cold noses together (in a very penguin-like gesture of love), it all felt very much like a miracle.
Today, just today, only today, I realized that the end is in sight. The end of my prestigious career as a college student is just around the corner, smack in the center of June. There is a definite day (June 17) and a definite time (2:00pm). On that day and at that time I will don a cap and gown, with the tassel hanging on the sophomoric left. And, upon the announcement of my name, I will walk across a platform and receive a piece of paper from a man I don't know, and I will shake his hand. Somewhere in the back of the crowd, my family will cheer. My dad will whistle loudly (because he's the only one of us who can). I will muster some dignity and move my tassel to the right. On the right my tassel will swing with an ease my heart and soul have not felt since high school! That is what I'm looking forward to.
Honestly, I haven't looked forward to graduation until today. In my first quarters at Las Positas everything was pointing to an eventual transfer to Davis. And in my first quarters at Davis, time and class requirements stacked end upon end, an eternity of education. Along the way I lost the drive from time to time, tossing the wretched books on the floor of my apartment and refusing to read... though my protests only hurt myself. You'd think I'd be smarter than that, wouldn't you?
Then I was looking forward to my wedding. And then to my marriage. Love tinted every aspect of my life a delightful shade of red. But it was also a distraction. I forgot that my goal was approaching fast.
Today, just today, only today, it hit me. I am one quarter (9 units, 10 weeks, 21 class meetings, 10 assigned books...) away from graduation. It's so close! So very much closer than I'd originally thought! It sneaked right up on me while I poured myself into insurance on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Of course, in order to make it to that graduation day, I still have to suffer through that God-awful drive. The one that numbs my butt and my mind. One hundred and sixty miles round trip. Just 3,360 more miles to go. And all of it through scenic Vacaville, Dixon, Martinez... ugh! I could probably complain more about it, but I'll try not to.
Because the truth is, on the day that Jon and I make that drive for the last time, on the way to the ceremony that shall begin the ultimate justification of my dedication and hard work (and unbelievable amounts of driving time), I'll probably cry. A little. Not because I'll miss the drive, which I'm sure I could do in my sleep, so I'll probably end up dreaming about it. And not because I'll miss Davis or Fairfield or Benicia. Why on earth will I cry? Because the last time I do almost anything is at least a little bit sad.
Tonight is not the time to dwell on what I'll miss at Davis. My school. Another time. Probably in June. Perhaps I'll hunt down the words of the school fight song... or deck my page with Aggie colors. Not tonight. I'm still just a fifth year senior on the verge of a degree. Until I actually achieve it and move that tassel to the right, I am not truly justified.
However, today, finally, it hit me that I am on the home stretch. And while the distance that remains for me to drive is equal to a cross-country trek, or to 3 round-trips to Disneyland, I must not think about those things!
If I do, I'll never make it to that tantalizing finish line... where my A.B. in English is waiting just for me!