“To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Freundschaftsinsel, Potsdam, by Max Baur (Friendship Island)
                    
“How secure have I felt seated at my desk in my house in the dark night, just watching the tip of my pencil in the lamplight following its shadow, as if of its own accord and with perfect fidelity, while that shadow moved regularly from left to right, line by line, over the ruled paper.” ~ W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz
Park Sanssouci, Potsdam, Germany, by Max Baur

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .   

Sitting in Eamonn’s room on Friday afternoon. A few days ago, I began the task of trying to clean this room, which means going through all of the various piles of crap that Eamonn has left here since moving to his Dad’s house.   

I’ve only managed to clean the desk so far. We’re talking about countless binders, notebooks, and piles of paper from high school. Dead pens and broken pencils. Permanent markers that have completely dried up from having no cap. and all kinds of other unidentifiable stuff. Oh, and I also found the title to his Explorer, which Eamonn swore up and down that he had given me. Yep, that title, the one that he had to go to DMV to get a duplicate of so that he could junk the Explorer.   

What possessed me to begin this cleaning project? Well, several things, the main one being that I’m using his computer while mine is dead, and I just couldn’t stand not having one clear space on which to place my Pepsi. That and the fact that if I continued to wait for Eamonn to come over and start to de-junk, I’d be waiting until 2020.   

Corey and I are thinking about turning this bedroom into an office with a futon for guests, not that we ever have guests, nor do we have the money to purchase a futon, but one thing at a time.   

“It is a strange life when I consider it,
how I endeavor to attain strength and clarity,
to mold these base materials into forms which will express me,
and my attitude, my joy and thankfulness. 
I work alone,
who cares whether I produce anything or not,
or who appreciates it? 
Yet I believe a good thing will not perish.” ~ Harlan Hubbard
Friedenskirche, Potsdam, Germany by Max Baur (ca. 1928)

Brett made it through his first week of college. Today’s classes were cancelled because of the hurricane. Although, all we’ve seen is rain. I know that schools and businesses try to be more proactive ever since that hurricane about five years ago that took out everything, and few people were prepared.   

Our hurricane preparation? Flashlights and bottled water. I mean, there really isn’t anything else that we can do. We don’t have a generator, nor do we have anything else in the way of emergency equipment. Next year, though, I want to be sure to have flood insurance in place. In this area, homeowners cannot get a flood policy written once the first hurricane enters the Atlantic, so we’re out of luck for 2010, and even though we don’t live in a flood area, we are close enough to water that we should have it. Besides, regular homeowner’s insurance covers very little in the way of water damage, which means that if there is a massive storm surge, and our home becomes a wading pool, we may well be SOL.  

So back to the whole college preparation thing: We finally got Brett a workable schedule. I ordered his books, only to have two of them kick back from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I mean I searched high and low to find the lowest possible prices on textbooks. One book is on backorder, with no projected shipment date. Another book is no longer available from the vendor from whom I originally ordered, which meant finding an alternative source, which (of course) was much more expensive.   

Things that make a person scream ARGH.   

“With writing, we have second chances.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is Illuminated 
Chinesisches Teehaus, Potsdam, Germany, by Max Baur (Chinese Teahouse)

 So an update on the various things that aren’t working:   

My computer: The motherboard arrived, and Corey took my CPU and the motherboard to the Geeks, who then quoted him $99 after initially quoting him $49. Then the person with whom Corey was speaking uttered those horrible words (the words that IsaacMak had already prophesied): There’s a good chance that the computer will need to be reloaded with Vista, which means that you will lose everything on the hard drive . . .   

It seems that Windows has implemented a new hitch with Vista and all subsequent windows versions: If the motherboard needs to be replaced, then the operating system has to be reloaded. This news, although not entirely unexpected, is more painful than I can express. The last time I did a total system backup was three years ago. Since then, I have approximately twice the data I had at that time. I won’t bother to mention (so, of course, I shall) how I pointed out to Corey months ago that we needed to get some kind of external hard drive so that all of the systems in the house could be backed up, you know, just in case . . .   

Options  for recovering and transferring my data include paying the Geeks to do it, which of course would be expensive. Or we can try to plug the computer in and download as much as possible onto the home network. That option depends on whether or not the computer will even boot.   

Then there is the small problem with the home network, which isn’t working. As I’m typing this a guy from the local cable company is here checking our connections to see why the router/modem will not stay on. I mean, it’s cable, not FIOS. It’s not weather dependent.   

Things just keep getting better and better.   

“I am increasingly impressed by how nature permits human beings to make fools of themselves in vast numbers.” ~ William Glass 
Refektoriumsportal des Klosters Heilsbronn, by Max Baur (Portal Refectory of Convent Heilsbronn)

A few final tidbits:   

Former Senator Alan Simpson, Republican co-chair of President Obama’s Deficit Commission has been in the news lately with his off-the-wall comments; most recently Simpson complained that Viet Nam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange are adding too much to the deficit. Simpson complained that these benefits run “contrary to efforts to control federal spending,” and even went as far as to say that “the irony” is that “the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess. My contention: Simpson is using too much air to fuel his waning grey cells. 

After President Obama’s speech this past Tuesday acknowledging the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, the usual Republican/Tea Party talking heads lined up to criticize the president for not giving enough credit to W. For once, I am in almost complete agreement with McConnell, McCain, Palin, et al, with one teenie tiny exception: exchange the word blame for credit.  

Yep. It’s all on W., but as usual, the right has been drinking the Kool-Ade. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, more credit should be given to W., who had the “determination and will to carry out the plan that made [this] announcement possible.”  

Uh . . . sorry, just threw up a little in my throat . . .  

W. had determination and will all right: the determination to circumvent the Constitution, the will to do more to impede basic freedoms in the name of anti-terrorism. And we are supposed to praise W. for making possibly the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country? We are supposed to laud him for dragging our country into an unwinnable war based on a faulty premise that had nothing to do with the original post-September 11 mission to capture Osama bin Laden and wipe out the Taliban?  

Don’t make me gag. Again.  

Keith Olbermann did a better job on calling out the talking heads on the right on this particular issue:  

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All images by German photographer Max Baur.

More later. Peace.  

 Music by Eva Cassidy, her version of “American Tune”  

                                                    

The Great Bear
A clear night
Trying to understand
What happened all those years ago
Under this
Exact constellation. 
It does no good
To dwell on the past.
What happens happens only once.
No such thing
As a lesson can be learned. 
And yet the same figure
Slowly appears
At the foot of the garden,
Looking as if
He is made of the dark, 
And I feel the same
Dilemmas rise
That have risen before,
And the same reactions
Hours behind, 
Burning off
What I’ve made of my life.
By the time the starlight reaches us
The world it began
Has gone. 
~ Frances Leviston
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“We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament, and embrace it with passion.” ~ Cyril Connolly

 
 1930’s One-Room School

                       

“You may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn.” ~ T. H. White, The Once and Future King
West Virginia One-Room School

Yesterday was Glenn Beck’s big day, his day of reckoning for the nation, his big “restoring honor” rally, which also happened to coincide with the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Beck’s choice of the historic date was a result of (in his words), “divine providence.” Beck, ever humble, declared that he wasn’t going to try to match King’s oratory, that he was only going to use talking bullet points, to leave room in case the spirit should speak to him.  

Wow. Megalomania, anyone?  

Talk about arrogance. I know that I make fun of Beck as much as possible, but I have come to believe that he may truly be crazy, not crazy as in I’m crazy, but certifiably crazy. A lunatic. Rubber-room crazy. I mean, just think about it: If Obama said that he was waiting for the spirit to speak to him, people all over this country would be talking about the POTUS’s messianic complex. But Beck? No, not so. Instead, people paid to go see this loony, and very few people wondered where the money was going.  

Big surprise: Sarah Palin was in attendance, offering her usual pablum. Is there a bowling alley or convention that she won’t attend? By the way, I wasn’t there.  

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ M. Scott Peck
Old Schoolhouse, Rockford, Illinois

So other than Beck, what’s been going on around here? Let’s see . . . Friday night/Saturday morning, I finally fell asleep at 8:30—in the morning. I’ve been particularly manic for the past week, driven mostly by the details of trying to get Brett ready for school tomorrow. 

He is registered for four classes, and I was finally able to get him a reasonable schedule. Since he registered late in the summer, not many classes were open for registration. I had to check the site every day to see what had opened as he really wanted to take the introductory astronomy class. Ultimately, he is registered for an introductory literature course, philosophy of science, intro to psychology, and intro to astronomy with a lab, for a total of 13 hours.  

He had been registered for 12 hours, but the astronomy lab added another hour, which means that we need to pay ODU more money. Of course. He’s been to campus a few times with his friend, and I took him one day last week to the Career Management Center so that he could get information on an on-campus job. That application is next up on the list of things to do.  

I’ve spent lots of time in the past three days looking for the best possible prices on textbooks, which, as a whole, as incredibly overpriced. His literature book alone is almost $100. I miss the days when I could get free books from the publishers. Anyway, three different sources, and books for four courses, totaling more money than seems possible: over $500.  

Geez. College certainly is expensive, she said not all ironically.  

“I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep . . .
Then I know that there is room in me
for a second huge and timeless life.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
One-Room School, Fayette County, Ohio (ca. 1910)

Last night was the first time that I fell asleep and stayed asleep while Corey was working. I was so exhausted from the night before that I fell asleep just after midnight. Did my usual getting up every three hours or so to let the dogs out, but never really woke up completely. Heard Corey come in around 9 this morning. His relief did not show up at 7, so he was late in getting home. That’s the second time his relief hasn’t shown up.  

Since I’m fairly rested today, I thought that I would try to put up a real post, with words and everything, not just vids from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” although what they said was far funnier than anything I could have said.  

Brett is very nervous about starting college, as I had expected that he would be. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he settles in comfortably once he realizes that the experience is nothing like being in high school and that he will not have to deal with cliques and in-crowds unless he chooses to. That’s the wonderful thing about the whole experience of attending college: It is exactly what the individual makes it.  

At least one of us is excited, though. I suppose I’ve been doing all of this researching and running around to try to make his first week as stressless as possible, but I also know that doing these things allows me to hang on for as long as I can. My dreams of late have included Brett as a small boy. I don’t need dream analysis to tell me what that means.  

“If what proust says is true, that happiness is the absence of fever, then I will never know happiness. For I am possessed by a fever for knowledge; experience, and creation.”  ~ Anais Nin
One-Room Schoolhouse, Miller County

I know that I have said many times that I would not go back to my youth for anything, and I mean that. However, I would love to be going back to college for the first time, only armed with the knowledge that I have now.  

If I had it do to over, I would go to a different school, and I would major in something else, like oceanography. I would also go straight through to my doctorate.  

Too bad that when we begin these journeys that we do not have the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. All that we have is intuition, and if we are lucky, good advice from someone who knows a thing or two. Intuition is great if you happen to be in tune with yourself, but how many 18-year-olds are actually in such a state? Very few.  

Advice is double-edged: well-meaning but having little to do with the reality of life, and well-informed but not necessarily what you need to hear. Our parents tend to give us advice that is in keeping with what they would do. Yes, it is filled with love, but usually filled with bias. My mother talked me out of going away to college. I’m not saying that I wish that I had gone to another area for school, but I do wish that I had been more selective in choosing which school to attend for my undergraduate degree.  

It matters. It really does, and I found that out the hard way. College students should choose their schools based on where they think they might want to go, but that doesn’t really happen. I remember that so many of the undergrads that I taught at ODU chose the school for its proximity to the beach. People choose VCU because it’s a party school. People choose UVA for its prestige.  

I chose ODU because it was convenient and affordable, but at the time, its English department was not what would be considered cutting edge. I once had a colleague try to convince me to get a Ph.D. in urban studies from ODU because as he said, “Any doctorate is better than no doctorate.” Wrong. I mean, a doctorate is great, but a doctorate in the wrong field from the wrong school—what’s the point.  

Brett is doing this first year at ODU to get used to the college experience, to get some of his general education requirements out of the way. With luck, we will all have a much better idea of just where we hope to be in the next six months. Maybe then Brett can choose a school that really meets his needs, and if it happens to be ODU, great; if not, that’s good, too.  

I only know that we are all starting a new chapter. Scary, indeed.  

More later. Peace.  

Music by Joshua Radin, “Brand New Day”