Sunday, October 31, 2010

People All Over the World . . .

It's been quite a weekend. I was a guest at an out-of-town wedding this weekend, so I had the very "girl" problem of figuring out what outfit would look best when accessorized with my ever-present walking boot. (My bum ankle continues to heal, but certainly at its own pace, not mine!) The wedding itself was lovely - a very personal expression of the two parts of the couple. With cake.

That same day, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their rally on the National Mall aimed at giving voice to the moderates among us. Squeaky wheels, we are told, are first in line for the grease and there's been no shortage of whining from both sides of the aisle, leaving most Americans sighing in the middle. The idea behind the rally was to demonstrate that there really are a large number of people who can disagree without thinking the other guy is Hitler. Stewart summed that up in his closing speech, saying that compromise is not just necessary to move forward, it's something we all do every day, without making a large fuss about it.

I thought about that. I have neighbors, family, acquaintances, and friends of various political stripes. We could vehemently disagree on issues and scream our suspicions at each other, but that doesn't get leaves raked and houses looked after. So we do what I suspect most people do - we shrug off our surface differences, plant our own election signs in the yard, hand each other surplus home-grown tomatoes and take care of pets while one another are out of town.

Same with marriage. That happy couple won't always agree straight down the line with each other (they're people, not sheep), but that doesn't mean one of them's totally right and the other is evil.

At the rally, there was the "Train trifecta" - "Peace Train" gave way to "Crazy Train" and the two sides couldn't agree on either one. It took the sweet Philadelphia soul of the O'Jays to bring everyone together.

It left me humming - "People all over the world join hands . . . "

And it gave me hope. If we can laugh, even at ourselves - strike that, especially at ourselves - we'll probably be all right.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Browncoats and Candy Corn!

An odd title, perhaps - but bear with me.

It's been a rather frantic time in the Nest. It's that time in the semester when students have realized that it's time to get real or get gone, and (for some) it's a tough choice. I'm behind on grading (and finding a surprising amount of truth in the application of Kubler-Ross's stages to the process), although it's not as bad as it was about a week ago. Like most instructors I know, I try hard to get things back to students within a week or a week and a half at the outside - but sometimes that's just not going to happen. Students are understanding, but I still don't like it and often run myself down telling myself that I ought to be more efficient, work harder, take more stuff home, and in general, be the Grade-A-Matic Mark 2.4.

But I know that we work to have meaningful lives outside of work. (OK, I want to have meaning inside work as well, but stick with me here.) I have my family, my Nest, my friends, my writing, etc., etc. and those relationships and activities require time, energy, and attention as well as the stuff I do for a paycheck. It's all about distinguishing your real Work from your employment-work and it can be a tough, tough balance. Sort of like juggling with monkeys - those suckers cling, which makes tossing them in the air whilst simultaneously catching the ones coming down a mite difficult. (Don't ask how I know. Besides, I hear there's a place where the chief form of entertainment is juggling goslings. Now that's weird, although some people find in the phrase a richness of philosophy.) Sometimes in this life, you just have to pull hard and toss, doing the best you can with the resulting simian rain. (Bribing them with bananas can help, but that takes another hand and you're already using both, so it's at best a partial solution.)

At any rate, I put the grading aside for two events this weekend. The first was attending Day One of the 2010 Browncoat Ball where I had been asked to put together (and be part of) an author panel. It was great fun - you can read more about it over on the Whedon-centric blog, linked here.

I didn't stay for the whole event - I'm sure the shindig is a fabulous thing and that I'd have enjoyed it immensely - but I had a Halloween party for four little girls to help carry out. And who else is going to teach these young ladies the importance of holding your mouth so that your candy corn fangs don't tumble out? It's not the job of the schools and it has to be done. I take my responsibilities to the youth of American very seriously, thank you.

And my goddaughter won't be seven for long. When she gets older, I doubt she'll care that I had a book-signing this weekend, but I hope she'll remember that I was there acting the fool for her party.

Those papers? They'll get done. And they'll probably get done faster if I stop confusing my work with my Work.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Salt - Don't Leave Home Without It!

When FryDaddy moved away to school, it necessitated quite a bit of adjustment for both of us. Add to that situation that he moved in to the larger family Nest and the jokes began to write themselves. Just imagine the Hollywood pitch: "OK - there's this college student, see? A little older than most, and he just got married. They're both happy and all, but he has to go away to school. Ready for the kicker? He moves in with her parents! See the comedic possibilities? It's a can't fail!"

Yes - my life is a sitcom. Probably on Fox and probably on Friday nights.

But we're managing. Cell phones help and we want to try Skype. Distance is such that FryDaddy is away during the week, but home for the weekend. And we try to meet in the middle for dinner once a week.

During these dinners, it was suggested that we find something to talk about that wasn't school or work. So, after three years and gently shrugging off the notion, I've become a Supernatural fiend. Neither one of us had watched it, so we watch in our separate homes one night, then talk about it at dinner the next. (And load up on episodes on the weekends!)

I'm really enjoying the show. There were some stand-alone, "Monster of the Week" eps that didn't really work for me early on, but now that we've finished Season 2, the major pieces are on the chessboard and I think the opening moves are just about to come. Now, I study Buffy and other Whedon work (just presented some ideas on Dollhouse - check out the more academic blog here for conference thoughts) and I have to say that I'm enjoying the Winchesters quite a bit, although it's sort of the "anti-Buffy." (Favorite example of this so far [that very well may turn into a presentation title] - Dean is telling li'l Jo why she shouldn't come along to fight demons due to her lack of training and Jo accuses him of being a chauvinist. Dean's laconic reply: "Sweetheart, this ain't gender studies." Tee-hee!!)

Meanwhile, FryDaddy seems transfixed with a mystical Colt. And we both notice where the salt shaker is in restaurants. Common, and quite effective, demon repellent, don't you know.

And I have to admit that yes, I created a Supernatural playlist for what I'm calling my "Impala moments."