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breakdowns, sore throats, and the holidays

December 18, 2010

So my son was delivered on my doorstep Thursday morning with a sore throat. A very sore throat. The four billion things I had to do in my office would have to be thrown into the river, figuratively speaking, that is, I did not actually throw them into the river. I feel the need to say this because “figuratively speaking” is a phrase I cannot toss off to my students. They think I may have walked down to the water’s edge and thrown stuff in. I try to clear up misconceptions like this by giving the example of fishing, something I have never done, which may give the example a degree of falsity that I had never considered until this moment, but at any rate, I still think the example works. It goes like this: If you catch a fish, does it get bigger when you tell people about it? Yes, they say obediently. Well (I jump around — we’ve just discovered something together), that is a truth that has nothing to do with fact — it’s an emotional truth– the fish felt big — and it is a figurative truth because– Why is it a figure of a truth? An image of the truth — I wonder why and would like to pursue this question, but am aware that my students do not hear centuries behind the word “figure” and therefore would not be as interested as I am in this question. At any rate they have probably never fished either. Today, my son still has a sore throat and I still have many undone things. I also have a car that breaks down, not as much as the car before this one, but last Wednesday night I was in the breakdown lane on 128 in the dark waiting for the tow truck, feeling alternately embarrassment — what if someone I know goes by and sees how I do not have a car that works — and despair — what kind of grown up has cars like this? Why don’t I have savings to fix this problem? Am I going to have to borrow yet more money?
But as my son watches episodes of Top Gear (BBC: Car Talk meets The Colbert Report); I am behaving as though I have nothing to do. No book to write. No courses to plan for the next semester. No go daddy accounts to renew. I’ve been lounging on the couch reading essays from a collection I am considering using next term, a huge decision; I am almost superstitious about it. If I choose the wrong anthology, I will be stuck with the wrong essays to read and the class will be all wrong, so it is important not to fall asleep while reading. If I fall asleep while reading, what will my students do? They won’t even open the book.
Meanwhile, behind the hedges and in the ditches, there is an unwritten manuscript (note the passive voice; I have lost all agency), so far away that I am not even anxious. But just saying that makes me anxious. Plus, it is the holidays and families all around the world are rushing to be together.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2010 4:51 am

    I am up in the wee hours with a sore throat, and finished the book I was reading. Of course I did not wake up in time for the lunar eclipse, sigh. So instead I have been catching up on your blog. So many perfect moments and insights. I am anticipating driving home to New England this week, and your depiction is calling me north. I hope you feel better, and that your car survives the winter, and that you continue to post your chronicle here. Sue

  2. Laurence Breeden permalink
    December 21, 2010 11:35 am

    So insightful, so interesting, so lively! I wish I wrote this way! May be I should take your class….

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