Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Question of Agency

I was raised in a house where we never said Grace. My father did, however, invariably thank the cook for preparing such a wonderful meal.

The Fantasy of Fifty

The women stayed up past
Their self-appointed bedtimes
The men they drank well past
Their self-apportioned quotas

And we talked of this and that
Deep into the night

(She said)
You guys look just the same
Which seemed a little strange
As many years have passed

But when I looked
I saw that it was true
These are the faces that I knew

Back when our kids were small
At soccer in the fall
Or at the camporee

The sparks fly up
The flames die down
But the coals keep burning red
Until the morning

How could this come to be
This quirk of memory
Has time been standing still

Has familiarity
Buffed our faces free
Of all the things we’ve shared

Or wiped away the masks
That flatten out our pasts
Affording us a glimpse
Into each other’s souls

The sparks fly up
The flames die down
But the coals keep burning red
Until the morning

In the bathroom light
My eyes are deep and dark
With bags as black as coal

I was so surprised
When I looked into my eyes
I didn’t know myself

It’s the fantasy of fifty
The fantasy of fifty

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Here's to 2005

So, what happened in 2004?

Well, none of the important things changed:  same wife, same kids, same job, same house. 

Laura got a new job, working in the Budget Office of EPA. 

Arvind is four.  He started the year still liking Thomas the Tank Engine, but then he got into super heroes: Superman, Batman and the Superfriends, watching the tv cartoons and reading the comic books, hitting up his parents and grandparents for ever more elaborate super hero costumes and pyjamas, refusing to wear anything but a super hero costume (accessorized with the appropriate cape, natch) to school or to bed.  As soon as we had gotten up to speed on the lingo and had acquired sufficient super hero clothing so that we were not doing laundry every night, he, of course, moved on, leaving us the state of uncool parenthood where I expect we will be spending most of the next twenty years.  Now he is into PowerRangers and Scooby Doo.  I’m sure by Spring it will be something else.

Ravi is 18 months.  He has picked up all the human-type skills, like walking, talking, eating solid food and watching tv.  He thinks Arvind is the coolest – follows him around and imitates whatever Arvind does.  Ravi now enjoys Thomas the Tank Engine, so hopefully we’ll get another round out of the super hero stuff as well.

The house has a new coat of paint, new steps, and additional flowers/bushes/ground cover.

We traveled quite a bit this year, mostly short visits.  We went to Rhode Island in February, to Manhattan for Padma and Salman’s wedding in March, to Lancaster County, PA to see Thomas the Tank Engine and Amish people in April, to New Jersey for JJ’s 60th birthday party in May, to Chicago in June, to West Virginia and Virginia in July to see steam engines and Harini/Umesh/Avinash, to Rhode Island in September and to St. John, USVI for a week of sunny relaxation in December.

I was reading Greek history early in the year: Herodotus, Thucydides, Arrian and Plutarch’s Life of Alexander.  I had moved on to Roman history (Gallic Wars) in Latin when I started biking to work which severely cut into my reading opportunities.  I read some Jane Smiley, a Paul Bowles novel, a book of I.B. Singer stories, and I finished Derek Walcott’s Selected Poems while we were in St. John.  No writing except for some song lyrics.

I got a 20GB mp3 player this year, so I have spent a lot of time moving my music collection onto the device.  The CD’s went fairly quickly, but the analog 2/3’s of the collection takes almost twice real time to transfer, so I have many hundreds of hours left in that project.  It is nice to listen to things I haven’t heard in many years, but I am finding that the audio fidelity has declined significantly in the interim.  No original music this year, although I am hoping to put something together in 2005.

So what else.  I rode my bike 10 miles to work most of the summer/fall, which was great.  The route took me along the C&O Canal, the Potomac river, the monuments and the mall, and my mp3 player came in handy.  I played soccer most of the year (twice a week in the fall).  No tennis.  I watch a lot of European soccer on Fox Sports World and RAI.

The Red Sox won the World Series.  I thought I would never see it.  I cried, I called my father.  For my birthday, Arvind got me the DVD.  I still haven’t watched it.