06 August, 2008

the doldrums of the nation

On the verge of heading out--the Family Excursion to the Midwest will soon be underway. I've always really liked appropriating the word "midwest" as an adjective for "mundane; average." Such as, "This book is the midwest of realist fiction," or, "Oh, her style is so very midwestern." This tendency to use this word perhaps suggests my lack of enthusiasm about this last summer hurrah, but I am looking forward to riding in the car with our family (always this ridiculous blend of outrageous humor and deep silence) and reading (bringing What is the What, Babbitt, and Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ). And, of course, seeing family on the paternal side, who are always brilliant, beautiful, and complex.

Went to Charleston for a night with Kels, Grace, Maria, and Sarah. I felt old and ugly around all of them, but they tolerated me and called me Dad. How sweet. We had a great time together, got burnt, sang in the car, and collected a fair number of embarrassing/incriminating stories. As to be expected of any girls' trip.

Thought while riding the bus back from work: Sleeping in public is a grotesquely vulnerable thing. Watching people sleep in public, that is. It doesn't disgust me (contrary to my use of the word "grotesque," which I debated about, but I think it works); rather, I am fascinated to see this complete loss of self and personal composure that happens when people fall asleep in public places. On the bus, on the train, on a bench... it takes great self-confidence and individual abandon to accomplish, I think.

"I want to have a love affair with negative space."--spoken by Grace, while she was practicing sumi-e the other night.

I break into gleaming smiles when I think about seeing everyone again at school; most everyone fresh from abroad, their mouths full of stories and laughter, back in their customary places on campus, the same and yet very much changed. I love being on the verge of joyful reunions.

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