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Dry Well #SOL17

The well is dry today.

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about.  I had a wonderful snow day with my family.  I could very easily write about the antics of my daughter, or the snow falling softly on our new lawn, or how much I admire my husband for going out again and again to keep our driveway and walkway clear.

But I put off writing this post until after I did some work on my dissertation.  And after working on that, let me tell you, the well is dry.  I’m surprised I can form coherent sentences!

So instead, here are some snippets of what I’ve been working on: the prospectus for my project.

Pater, Pietas, and Patria: Fathers, Faith, and National Identity in Ulysses and the Aeneid

The Homeric epics of the Iliad and the Odyssey have long been the fodder of authors seeking to retell those classic stories.  From antiquity to Hollywood there is no shortage of versions of Homer’s tales.  As author Jonathan W. Rosen points out, the genre of reimagined literature is “a vibrant transnational genre—a genre constituted by the conversion of minor characters from canonical works into protagonists” (Rosen 139).  This dissertation will look at two such retellings: Ulysses by James Joyce and the Aeneid by Virgil.  Specifically, I will be looking at three common elements: the idea of faith and pietas, the recurring motif of fathers and sons, and the intent and struggle of both authors to create a national identity out of disparate political and cultural influences.

While this dissertation will address each of these topics separately, it will also look at the confluence of faith, fathers, and the fatherland in the two texts.  Both Virgil and Joyce use the question of faith (pietas for Virgil, often lack of faith for Joyce) and relationships between fathers and sons as a way to form a national identity.  This dissertation will explore the complicated relationship that both authors had with their homelands and their patrons as well as the ways they used common motifs to develop larger statements about what it means to be Roman and Irish.

My mind is fried, and I still have an annotated bibliography to finish!  Thank goodness for a delayed opening tomorrow!

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can find out more about the challenge here!
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Drawers

My daughter’s drawers are overflowing.  For such a tiny girl, she has an awful lot of stuff.  So today, while she and my husband played, I tackled her clothes.

My goal was to get rid of anything that no longer fit.  She is in 18 month clothes now, and I haven’t gone through her things since before we moved in November.  My mother in law packed a lot of her boxes, so I actually barely knew what was in her drawers at all.

The answer?  A lot.  Clothes as small as 9 months, socks that said 0-3.  I purged and purged, tossing onesie after onesie into a bin.  I tossed all of the bibs she won’t let us put on her anymore, and pajamas that no longer zipped over her little belly.  I got rid of pants that were more like shorts and hats that wouldn’t fit on even the tip of her head.

I was sad as I did it.  I spent some time reminiscing over this outfit or that, remembering my baby as a real baby.  But then my husband brought her up to “visit” me in my work, and she sang her ABCs (or at least a 17 month version of her ABCs).  And I thought about the little girl who was taking the place of the baby.  I’ll miss her as a baby, but I’m excited to watch her grow into a girl.

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Hamilton #SOL17

I can see the way the other people in the park look at me.  I’m running with my jogging stroller, enjoying a rare morning at home.  My daughter is starting to whine.  The whine grows louder and louder.  It is nearly a cry.  How selfish, I can hear them thinking.  She should take that baby home.

But I know what will calm my girl.  I slow to a walk and remove my phone from the basket of the carriage.  “OK,” I assure her.  “Mommy will put on your tunes.”  I scroll through my albums and hit play.  Not shuffle.  She hates shuffle.

Dun dundundundun dundun 

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore . . .

If the people doing their laps of the park weren’t judging me before they are surely judging me now.

They may not be able to hear it over the hiphop coming from my phone, but my daughter’s whining has stopped.  I don’t have to look down at her to know this for sure.  It always stops when I put on Hamilton.

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A VERY old picture, but it shows how deep her love runs.

When we were in the hospital with her after she was born, there was no television in the room.  So my husband and I listened to the Hamilton original cast recording, which had come out the week before.  We had seen the show several times: once on Broadway, once off-Broadway, and once in a concert version at Lincoln Center.  He is a history teacher, I am a theatre nerd.  It was a natural fit.

 

And when I would drive with her to see my mother and grandmother, when she was so small she barely fit in the car seat, I would listen to it to calm my nerves.  And somehow it just became the songs she liked.  Now whenever we are in the car and she fusses we play it.  She calms down immediately.  For her, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an old friend.  When she sees him on TV she stops and sits and watches with an attention that is usually only reserved for Elmo or another resident of Sesame Street.  (The first character’s name she could say was Murray.  Is it a coincidence that Lin-Manuel sings Murray’s song?  Probably not.)

 

My girl and I finished 3 glorious miles in the sunshine today.  It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.  At some point one or both of us will get cabin fever from being cooped up all weekend.  Fortunately, I’ll know I have my secret weapon.

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Little Purple Flowers #SOL17

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These are not my crocuses, but they sure are pretty!

We moved into our new house during Thanksgiving weekend.  Sometimes it feels like we’ve been living there for years.  Other times it feels like we are trespassing in someone else’s space.  We have painted and put new floors down; taken down wall paper and put up our pictures.  We are starting to make the space our own.

Our new house still surprises and mystifies us.  We don’t know how to turn on the lights in the back deck.  There are outlets everywhere.  The house creaks and groans in the wind.

Still, we are learning.  How to drain water off the pool cover (we have a pool!).  How high we need to set the heat at night.  How quickly our ice maker can make ice after a party.

This morning as I walked out our front door I noticed them: tiny purple crocuses peeking through the dirt.  I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn but spent many years helping my grandfather and then aunt plant these flowers.  I know they need to be put in the ground in the early fall, just as we put an offer in on the house.  The previous owners planted these flowers knowing (or at least hoping) they would never see them.  Now they are here to welcome us.  Purple is my favorite color.

I want to remember these purple flowers and the joy they brought me this morning: spring is almost here; our house’s surprises can be good; time marches on whether we’re noticing it or not.  And this fall I’ll be sure to plant crocuses again.

 

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Marathoning Meb

I wrote this today as an entry to a contest to run in the 2017 NYC Marathon alongside Meb Keflezighi, my favorite runner.  I am not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination, but Meb inspires me. 

 

Meb is the reason I thought I could run a marathon. Corny, but true. I watched Meb in the 2012 Olympics, after I’d completed my first half marathon. Meb is an everyman. He doesn’t look like the other runners; he doesn’t act like the other runners. Meb is a friend you’re cheering on, not an imposing elite athlete.

I ran the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon with my twin sister. We were both undertrained and nervous. We dedicated each mile to a member of our family or our friend group. Our first mile, though, was to Meb. “To Meb,” my sister said as we ran the past the mile marker. “Who got us started in the first place.”

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My sister, husband, and I at the end of the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon

I haven’t run a marathon since 2013 or a half marathon since 2015. I had a baby, was beset by injuries. But when I told my sister (who had also been plagued with injuries) I thought I might hang up my shoes she was aghast. “You can’t quit!” she said. “What would Meb think?!” So we bought Meb’s book and we’re both back in the proverbial race. She is racing the NYC Half in March; I’m racing the Brooklyn Half in May. We’d both hoped to get into the marathon so we could say we ran with Meb.

I may never meet Meb. But I know him. And he’s changed me.   That’s why I’d be honored to run with him in NYC this fall.

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Sunday Night #SOL17

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There’s something both sad and hopeful about Sunday night.

On the one hand, the weekend is over and with the end of the weekend comes the  beginning of responsibility again.

On the other hand, the week stretches out before me like a blank piece of paper.  All of the mistakes and the missteps of the week before can be avoided this week.  I can get up early, I can be productive, I can stop procrastinating.  I can be kinder, eat better, run more.

This Sunday night found baby McK in bed early, my husband and I eating leftovers, a favorite movie on TV.  I don’t imagine that we’ll last later than 10:30 tonight.  It was a good weekend but a long one.  Baseball season has begun and with it my husband’s calendar fills up.  We’ve got at least two if not three late nights this week.  We’ll need our rest.

Still, I’m choosing to look at the glass half full this week; to see the possibilities instead of mourning the end of the weekend.  Here’s hoping that will set the tone!

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

 

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Libraries #SOL17

There’s something magical about libraries, isn’t there? 

The possibility of all of those unread books.  All of the things to learn, the stories to read, the lives to live.  

Baby McK and I went to the library today to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  The program started at 10 this morning.  Foolishly, we arrived at 10.  When the library opened.  We couldn’t have possibly known that people had begun getting there at 9:30 to get a good spot.  (Well, to be fair, a responsible Mom might have known.  I did not.). 

So the program was packed (and probably skewed a little old for our 17 month old anyway) so we went into the children’s room where we had the run of the place.  She took book after book off the shelf and lef them in her wake.  The staff had signs everywhere reminding parents that little hands would take things off the shelf and that that was fine, they would tidy at the end of the day.  She sat and read.  And read.  And read.  Mommy’s baby, for sure.


I had a magical idea that, when we were done, she would indulge me and let me peruse the adult new arrivals.  But as we walked towards the circulation desk to check out her books (her first library books!), she caught sight of the balloons and gift bags given to all of the little attendees today.  Needless to say, mom did not get her novel on.

Still, I have so many fond memories of taking book after book off the shelf in my own library, the Flatlands branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.  It was nice to see my girl do the same today.

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