25 January 2012

To the Line: Living Pedagogy from the Bleachers

Tonight I am spending my evening watching two basketball games at the community college where I teach. I have, combined, on the women’s and men’s teams, six current students, and at least half a dozen former students. This is not the first basketball game I have been to for my students—I attended one last spring, when the women’s team was tearing it up in the NJCAA tournament. Of the major competitive sports, I fully admit that basketball is the one I follow least. I am rabid in my following of baseball and ice hockey, and I put in a fair showing on the matter of European football and the NFL. I even got fairly embroiled in our (no longer) local Rookie League baseball team, the Casper Ghosts, a Rockies affiliate that has since moved on to greener pastures in Colorado.

But basketball has always been on the fringe of my sports-loves. I get caught up in the March Madness with everyone else, of course, but I don’t understand the niceties of the game. Sitting here on this vaguely uncomfortable moulded plastic, I still don’t understand them. I get the rules in a fairly basic way—shot clock limitations, fouling out—but unless it’s NBA-level traveling, taking the ball for a walk on a leash, more or less, I can’t see those sorts of infractions. And I watch too much ice hockey to see the foul in a little bump, in obstruction. So this is not a post about basketball, at least not in the way that it could be.

What this post is about is about putting my money where my mouth is.

04 January 2012


Irony in that my last post (a jolly six months ago) was about routines, or my lack thereof.

To recap: had a completely brilliant August that included a two-week roadtrip with one of my dearest friends. Then the semester started again. That takes us through to December and the holidays. A lot of travel then. Glad to be home now.

It's not a very good recap. For reasons I don't quite understand, this autumn was hard for me. There was a lot of good in it--Patrick Madden at the Casper College Literary Conference (read Quotidiana--just a beautiful collection of unexpected essays); CrossFit (yes, I can't believe it, either); starting to plan the 2012 Equality State Book Festival; a publication in Memorious with excellent company (Bob Wrigley! Nina McConigley!)--but also a lot of feeling like I was never on top of anything, never caught up, never where I should have been. I also lost a pen I loved. A really *nice* pen. One I don't know that I can replace.

The rational part of my brain says that it's only a pen. It's a material thing. I have other pens. I even have the financial means that I could probably replace it with something even better. But I'd make a terrible Buddhist because my life is all about attachments, and I loved that pen, dammit. And losing it makes me feel irresponsible. This paragraph is my obligatory confessional, apparently. There. I'm done now.

Autumn is always hard for me. The growing dark. The cold. Skip that. Move ahead.

I've read very few books lately, but I did tear through Mark Gatiss's Lucifer Box trilogy (The Vesuvius Club, The Devil in Amber, and Black Butterfly) with more joy and excitement than I've had while reading for a long time. They're just cracking good reads--perfectly aware of themselves, playful, but containing a surprising amount of heart. My friend Laura has an excellent review of The Vesuvius Club at LibraryThing.

I'd say I'd resolve to read more of Gatiss's books, but there are only three novels in the Box series. That's its own tragedy. Mark Gatiss, if by some chance you ever read this, a few more books set between The Vesuvius Club and The Devil in Amber really wouldn't go amiss. But even if I don't get any more stories about the indomitable, irreverent, and irresistible Lucifer Box, I can remember that this is what reading (and writing) should feel like: there should be something joyful in it. Even when it's difficult, there should be something to love. Because, as Laura and I have been discussing, it's clear that Gatiss must have been having a smashing good time writing these books. I'd like to remember what that's like.

But this is the season of resolutions, isn't it? I'm not going to make any. (I'm lying--I'm making them, but I'm not blogging about them just yet. I abandoned this blog for six months; I clearly can't be trusted.)

I am going to link you to Woody Guthrie's list of 33 resolutions that he made for 1942. All of these "New Years Rulin's" seem wise enough models to follow.

This isn't a resolution, but something else I thought was worth sharing:
Yes, that is a mug with a Beowulf quotation on it. Also, a nautical star shotglass full of milk and a gingerbread cookie.
Don't judge me.
Taking the time to make a coffee or tea service all for yourself is absolutely worth it. Especially when the coffee is from Raven's Brew. Maybe it's in the service of being kinder to yourself. We could all probably use a bit more of that.