Friday, March 20, 2009

Long Time, No See

So long I'm not sure I remember how to do this, nor any reason thereunto. One of the new incentives offered by Blogger is the accumulation of "followers." Someone like TSO has about a hundred of those things. I have....2. So I guess I'm doing this to keep those two. If they haven't already abandoned me, which they probably have, but felt sorry enough for me not to remove their status.

Well, you two, I've been busy. Schoolwork, housework, yardwork, reading manuscripts (for free!) for the next issue of The Christendom Review, and having to write one of my own because I just had to open my big mouth and...never mind. Keep your eye out for it (the issue) sometime in April. One of the articles, by Lydia McGrew, is of a groundbreaking nature, giving the lie to the accepted wisdom regarding a certain aspect of the Terri Schiavo case. That's all I'm saying so's the suspense will kill you. I don't mind if you read my article too. The first issue, the one commemorating my writing teacher, has been printed and bound and can be purchased here. It's a handsome thing with a glossy cover and 134 pages of good reading. I've bought half a dozen already to send off to people. Some of you are cheapskates, though, so for you we have the completely free, fully downloadable pdf version.

Oh, Todd McKimmey, our webmaster and that of W4 as well, is responsible for both those wonderful things. He has branched out now and opened up a photography business. He offers other services too. He's basically a genius with anything software, so if you need help with web design, hosting, or custom publishing, seek him out. You can see more of his photography here.
So, what can I bore you with?

Oh, I know. This video of the launch of Discovery taken from my roof. As usual, I got up there too late to set up the tripod (I had to throw down the hoe and the rake and knock the dirt out of my ears, then scramble up a ladder; plus I might have had a couple Beck's by then), so there's some bouncing around, and some dead space in the middle when the shuttle disappears behind a cloud, but if you hang in there you'll see it emerge and the boosters separate from the people part, and the rocket trail outlining the clouds in orange and white. Go ahead, waste your time.

Speaking of followers, some Catholic bloggers found me on Facebook. A couple were nice enough to invite me to be "friends." Terry's was best: "You do want to be my friend, don't you?" Ever notice how a woman can make an invitation sound like a demand? Now I have more friends than I used to, like maybe 15 instead of 10. One of my daughters has over 400. It is not humanly possible, of course, to know that many people well enough to call them all "friend." She admitted this was true. What's been happening, I suggested, is that friends of friends ask to be your friend and you're too friendly to say no. Right? Right. It's time to start defriending the ones you don't know, right? Uhh...

Anyway, my Catholic friends have probably figured out by now that I ignore that page even more than I do this one.

Well, the back 40 smells like a giant orange blossom. I haven't seen so many blooms on the tangelo and orange trees in many a year, and this after a very cold and moistureless winter. These are very old trees and I can't figure out what kind of weather produces abundance. Maybe it's just a cycle, long years of relative slumber followed by a sudden awakening. I should mention that even in bad years, they produce more than we can possibly eat.

Paul Cella's coming to visit at the end of May.

Lessee, what else? I renewed my subscription to First Things in honor of Father Neuhaus.

I haven't lifted a paintbrush in 6 months. (Wait till you see the paintings in the forthcoming Christendom Review. Not by me, of course.)

My fascination with nature continues. I was watching this Animal Planet show in which a couple guys had sealed themselves inside a plexiglass cage so that they could watch the lions up close. Outside the cage they had set up two wooden dummies, one an antelope and the other a human sitting in a chair. The lions ignored the human and went straight for the antelope. Once they figured out it wasn't edible, they decided to try the human.

He's a handsome fellow, isn't he?

This is what he did to the human dummy (the wooden one, not the two inside the glass cage).

Unable to figure it out, he calls his wife in to help:


She reports back that the human is inedible, so the big fella begins investigating the glass cage:


By nightfall, the two cowards in the cage had found an opportunity to slip out and tie a carcass to a tree, so that they could watch this:

And you can too, here.

Yeah, they'll eat people. I wouldn't judge them too harshly though. I've heard that there are people who do the same thing. Pee-pul, pee-pul who eat pee-pul, are the hungriest pee-puuuul in the world.

Oh, I almost forgot. I've still got stuff from Christmas and January I meant to post. Bern visited in January and we played golf out at Redtail, where we saw this right beside the 4th tee. It took me 15 minutes to get the animal lover back into the game:


And here she is with the General Manager, a long time benefactor, the two of them leaning against the BMW she won in The Big Break:

And even further back, here she is sucking down the egg nog at Christmas:


And here's The Dancing Queen being lifted by me, her partner, who quite obviously missed his calling, and is now sending out CV's to various ballet companies:


Okay, back to the present, and the subject heading: THINGS THAT MAKE TEACHERS DEPRESSED.

This student, a black girl, in the 18, 19, 20 year old range, with a ready smile, a desire to succeed, and fair writing ability turns in her first paper with the title How To Choose an Abortion Clinic. Choose carefully, was the general advice; this is not a decision to be taken lightly. What isn't? I asked her later. Choosing the clinic, she said. Some are good, some are butcher shops. She was referring to butchery of the woman. I had asked because there wasn't a word in the paper about whether killing a baby was a decision lightly made. She writes from experience, having been through the process herself, for precisely the reason you might suppose. In her next paper, a narrative, she tells the story of how her twenty-something uncle raped her when she was nine years old. It was quite detailed and painful to read. Did you ever tell anyone? I asked. No. Not to this very day? She shook her head. Why? She couldn't answer, then mumbled something about just wanting it to go away. She had even seen the uncle throughout the years at family reunions. He pretended as if nothing had ever happened. He'd only done it that one time. I asked her if she ever wondered how many other girls he'd done this to. She didn't think he had. Didn't think? The next class, she tells me she let her mother read her paper. Was she mad? Oh yes. But you knew you had to do it, right? Yeah. That's all I know.

I've decided I don't want to know how many of my female students have borne children sired out of wedlock. Sometimes the father is "in the picture," which means just what you might think, but most often he is not.

But, to pick you up, another fellow, a young black fellow in the same age range told a miracle story. His word. His uncle had suffered cardiac arrest, been taken to the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator, and the family instructed that he would never recover, that if he woke up he'd be a "vegetable." Doctors these days actually use that word while speaking to the vegetable's loved ones. My student's aunt, the uncle's wife, said to the doctor, "Do you believe in God?" Taken aback, he just gave her a funny look. "You're fired," she said. They got another doctor. He said the brain was a mysterious thing, and sometimes it just needs time. So they gave the uncle more time and lots of prayers, and one day while they were praying he woke up. He's back home now.

Which reminds me of a story I forgot to tell you from a couple semesters ago. The 69 year old grandmother of one of my female Hispanic students had suffered a stroke. She was taken unconscious to the hospital, where the prognosis was dire and the need felt to put her on a respirator. The weeks passed with no improvement. Three months passed. Finally the doctors started putting pressure on the student's aunt, her mother's sister, to remove the ventilator. There was no brain activity, and no hope of recovery. I can't remember if he used the V word. The aunt resisted, but after a couple weeks of being indoctrinated in the physical facts of the case, began to relent. The morning that they were scheduled to remove the ventilator, all the family were gathered in the grandmother's room, my student holding her hand. As the doctor explained to the aunt what they were about to do, and what to expect, my student suddenly felt a pressure on her fingers. She looked down and the grandmother was squeezing her hand. She squealed out to the others, "She just squeezed my hand!" The next morning the grandmother woke up. She's home now, somewhat debilitated, but she can communicate and get around with a little help. The doctors were unapologetic for their desire to pull the ventilator. Very rare, they said of the grandmother. A freak occurrence.

Some of the stories are interesting, though poorly written. But every now and then a fine line leaps out, like that from the girl who found herself in a car being driven by a drunken friend who had accelerated to over a hundred miles an hour: "Panic's a funny thing. It's like you're drowning in the air you're trying to breathe." She ended up with her pelvis broken in five places.

Most of the girls like to write about love. They are not usually stories of success, but more often of the strains of selfishness, physical abuse, babies born to teenagers and young women only to be abandoned by their so-called fathers. Sometimes even the girls do the abandoning. It runs the gamut. For some reason I get sentimental reading them and start thinking back to the world of young love I grew up in, which wasn't like theirs at all. I start remembering the girls I knew, and the music we listened to in the car, or slow-danced to in the gym at the sock hop. Sometimes in the back, in the corner, in the dark. Stuff like this.

It was hard enough to get to first base, let alone get one of them pregnant. Know why? They wouldn't let me. Things have changed. Women. They're unknowable, but could change the world if they would.


TS said...

Well I had a lot of comments to make but the last half of this post made me forget them. So I'll go back and re-read the first half..

Oh yeah, first, that LuLu link doesn't work. Second, I've already read the first issue of CR and was wondering if the next issue might also available in a word document form since the Kindle doesn't do pdfs. Since presumably I'm the only one who could use the Word doc format I don't expect or ask you or anyone else to go to any trouble, unless one is already available.

wl said...

I fixed the link. I'll ask Todd about a Word format. But only if it won't cause him too much trouble. He already exhausts himself on our behalf. Zippy also uses a Kindle. People who buy the book support the site. It actually costs money to keep it going. The only drawback to the book is that the artwork is in black and white; add even one page of color and the price of the book literally triples. However, the color art work can be printed from the pdf version.

Kevin Jones said...

When I took a college creative writing class, one young woman wrote a story recounting her own abuse at the hands of a lecherous relative.

This was in a workshop setting where stories were passed around for public critique.

Don't these poor women have any close friends who would make better listeners?

Regarding the "vegetable" patients, I don't think I can trust a doctor again after they missed my simple balance problem for three years straight.

alaiyo said...

I keep checking Apologia faithfully even when you are too busy with real life to write here because the reward is so great when you finally do. I had hoped to send you something for CR, but real life seems to have taken me over, what with overloads and exhaustion . . . Maybe this summer . . .

wl said...

Don't these poor women have any close friends who would make better listeners?

Before you can have a listener, you have to be willing to talk. For why they won't, I really can't give a reason. I had a Hispanic girl last semester who, at the age of 16, was awakened from her nap on the couch by the sensation of someone kissing her on the lips - her uncle, her mother's brother. She talked. No one believed her at first, not even her own mother. Eventually she was believed, but I could tell the girl is still stressed out by it to this day.

No hurry, Beth. I ain't going anywhere.

Lydia McGrew said...

Bill, I don't know how you keep your sanity with the girls telling you this stuff, writing it for you for writing class. I really don't.

Bless you.

The lion pictures are cool.

The horses. I've gotta find some way to spend more time seeing horses. Those are so beautiful.

Hey, now I know what Kevin L. Jones looks like.

wl said...

Kevin writes for Catholic Insight, or whatever Crisis Magazine used to be. And he has reason to mistrust doctors. Been through some misery, but I get the impression now that better days are ahead.

The horses...Those are so beautiful.

What about my ballet lift?

alaiyo said...

Your ballet lift is lovely, Bill. The liftee is more so, however. :)

I enjoyed the lion and horse pictures, too, by the way.

Girls don't talk because they are afraid they won't be believed, or they are ashamed because the person abusing them convinces them they will be blamed for it, or threatens them in some way . . . We no longer live in a world where it's just *obvious* that men who abuse girls are the dregs of the earth and *will* be dealt with by that girl's male relations -- thanks to the sexual revolution, even young girls are often assumed to be complicit in the abuse ("it was consensual!") and/or the girl *has no male relatives* who care.

Hasn't feminism made the world such a better place?

wl said...

Your ballet lift is lovely, Bill. The liftee is more so, however.

I'm used to hearing that. I guess I should be happy about it.

Kevin Jones said...

I too don't see how you can handle these stories. I'd be uncomfortably suggesting law enforcement contact, therapy of some kind, or again some close friend who would be a more "appropriate" listener.

(Ever notice how oddly we use appropriate / inappropriate nowadays? They're such typically bureaucratic euphemisms.)

As for myself: Alas, I haven't written for for over a year. Hope to change that soon. (And my middle initial is "J.")

Anonymous said...

Maybe writing these stories down helps them sort their feelings out and will give them the drive to report, or find a therapist or talk to someone. Actually I can almost guarantee it must happen quite often.

Elena said...

Great post.

I think women let guys get away with more stuff because they are afraid to be alone. And I think it's a father thing. If men would stay with their families, their daughters might just have a better chance of not messing up their lives.

That's my take on it from this part of the world anyway.

Still, it must be a difficult spot for you to be in while reading these papers. Maybe they see a father figure in you?

wl said...

Maybe they see a father figure in you?

That's my guess. But they wouldn't see it unless they trusted me. Why they do is the mystery.

I'm sure Lydia is mortified at messing up your middle initial, Kevin. But she's down with a bad cold right now and won't be issuing any apologies until it's over.

MamaT said...

Demanding? Moi? Demanding?

Do you know PapaC? Did he spill the beans?


I totally get why they trust you. Your trustworthiness oozes out of your pores--your love for your wife and your daughters being the prime example of that.

Men who can't be trusted don't talk about the women in their lives like you do. And I'm sure it's no secret in your classes. You casually mention them all the time with love and respect and honor. You don't play it up, it just IS.


A good man may be hard to find, though I think it is rarely as difficult as women make it seem, but they truly aren't that hard to recognize when you come across 'em.

wl said...

Well, as the Misfit said in "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "Nome, I ain't a good man. But I ain't the worst in the world neither."

But I appreciate the compliment.

Lydia McGrew said...

Kevin, I'm indeed embarrassed about the middle initial. A Kevin Jones comments at W4, and I think that's you, and I'd somewhere gotten the impression that that commentator signed his name "Kevin L. Jones." But I'm apparently just remembering wrong.

Cold isn't over yet, but the fever is over, which is a big improvement, so I can issue ("Atchoo") apologies. Better to have just the cold.

wl said...

and I think that's you

That's him. He. I think he might have liberal tendencies in certain areas, so keep an eye on him.

Kevin Jones said...

You'll have to explain sometime what liberal tendencies you detect in me. Sometimes my position on the political spectrum is opaque to me.

I hope to blog comment on a Polish thinker's criticisms of big-L Liberalism within a month or two.

wl said...

I can't remember offhand. I was trying to get a rise out of you. It worked but only sort of.

Sometimes my position on the political spectrum is opaque to me.