Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Fifth

The 4th came and went in a funny way, because of the storm.  Now it's breezy and beautiful, like the sky has had a nice, thorough cleaning.  (Something my house desperately needs.  Three cats shed a lot when it's hot and humid.)

I did manage a bike ride yesterday morning, early.  When I did, I actually saw people setting up picnic areas in the park.

I thought of them during the 9:00 a.m. Arthurian deluge.

For my part, I worked all day on my promotion application.  I'm applying for promotion to "Professor" next fall. (Right now, I'm an "Associate Professor," which means I have tenure and all, but the last phase of the academic process is "Full Professor.")

So this has involved gathering a lot of materials, baby-sitting the printer, using the hole punch and the stapler more than I have in the past 15 years, and reflecting on my various and sundry accomplishments in writing, in a way that sounds impressive but not arrogant.   It's not difficult, but it is kind of time-consuming, so I decided last year that whenever we had a day of bad weather, I would devote it to working on this.

Remember how many snowstorms we had last winter?  Yeah.  Basically, I'm nearly done, and it's due in mid-September.  So, thanks for all the help Mother Nature, but at this point, I think I got this.

But I am glad I did it in the way that I did, because ye gods there is a lot of time spent clicking "Print" and praying that you don't have to deal with a paper jam.

I also finished a pair of socks.  Here they are:

I have a lot of this particular yarn (Felici's "Shamrock") because it was being discontinued and I like green.

So does my best friend's son, so I'm either going to give him this pair, if it fits him, or if it doesn't, I'll work on making a pair the next size up for him, once I know what size his feet are (more or less).

Apparently, his feet are growing at a somewhat alarming rate, so any and all measurements are pretty tentative and subject to change tomorrow.  This will definitely complicate the sock-making process.

But the good new is, if he outgrows this particular size, no worries.  It's the size that fits me, and it's the size that fits his mom.  These socks will never go to waste.

And if--when--he outgrows the next size up, it's the size that fits his grandmother.  Basically, the women of the family are set, regardless of what his nearly twelve-year-old feet decide to do. 

And I know what you're thinking, but really: what nearly-teenage boy doesn't want a pair of hand-knit socks from his mom's wacky friend?  Again, if--when--he balks, the socks will simply default to whatever female family-member they fit.  (We're all fine with wacky.  As long as its our own kind of wacky.)

I also made a 4th of July pizza yesterday--roasted peppers and spinach with herbed goat cheese and mozzarella.  It was quite nice.  Better than burgers or hot dogs from the grill, which simply weren't going to happen, given the weather.

I also finished an interesting book by Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life (2009).  It's intense. Seriously.  I spent the first third of the book being really, really worried about her.

Hornbacher was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her previous memoir, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (1998, reprinted with an updated afterword in 2006).  She suffered from anorexia and bulimia throughout most of her teenage years and became a severe alcoholic.  Eventually, she was diagnosed with rapid-cycle bipolar disorder, type I.

So you can probably see why I spent a fair amount of reading time being really, really worried about her.  Her memoir isn't for everyone.  Unlike Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (1997), Hornbacher's book doesn't attempt to "organize" her experience and make sense of it--at least, not for the first half of the text.

Instead, you're simply in it, with her.  This is what bipolar looks like, from the inside out and the outside in.  Hornbacher is an amazingly good writer, I think--which is also why I was really, really worried about her.

I don't want to lose any great writers.  We need them.

Hornbacher's memoir isn't simply a tale of darkness, though.   At times, it's terribly funny.  She sees the humor in her illness--"through a glass, darkly," of course--but she sees it nonetheless.
I woke up this morning and things were a little off.  I went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and stopped in the doorway.  Glass covered every surface.  I vaguely remember throwing the coffeepot at my husband's head.  Hell.  No coffee.  There was blood on the floor; I checked my feet, which were covered with shallow cuts that were more or less painless.  I wondered absently if they were really painless, or if I was numb.
It occurred to me that I had to leave immediately, and I went upstairs to collect my purse and shoes.  I made it as far as the car when I noticed that I wasn't wearing any clothes.  Oh, for goodness' sake, I thought to myself, and went back into the house shaking my head... (71-72)
In the end, she makes what can only be characterized as a mind-bogglingly impressive effort to manage her illness.  And she insists on the place of hope in that process.
I relish my life.  It is a life of which I am fiercely protective.  I have wrested it back from madness, and madness cannot take it from me again.  I will not throw it away.  So what if it isn't a normal life?  It's the one that I have.  It's difficult, beautiful, painful, full of laughter, passing strange.
Whatever else it is, whatever it brings--it's mine. (280)
Like her life, Hornbacher's memoir is "difficult, beautiful, painful, full of laughter, passing strange."  As I said, it isn't for everyone, but everyone should read it.  

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."