Tuesday, June 30, 2015


A reprise of an earlier theme...

Payday has returned to me.
Paying bills has, too, you see.
The money I have earned must flee
Into the sea not owned by me.

If the words familiar sound
Of money flowing off to drown
Somewhere far off from the ground
Where I stand, this little mound,

There is a cause. The patterns hold.
Each month is cast from common mold.
I and others work for gold
To pay our debts; we cannot hold

What we would earn, not and still keep
Body and soul together. Reap
Rewards of living cheap
In the moment. Costs are steep

As the months and years go by.
We labor and we buy and buy
And the interest soon grows high
As paydays come and pay goes by.

But payday has now come again
And so, too, bills. How to defend
Following the crooked bend
And answering what collectors send?

Monday, June 29, 2015


A thought occurred to me as I was getting dressed this morning. I was putting on a pair of pants I have owned for some years now, and, to my delight, they fit. As I have grown somewhat in my time at Sherwood Cottage, I have had to replace several pairs of pants because they would no longer close about me, or if they did, people would have thoughts of sausage casings--and since I do not work in meat-packing, that is not a thought I want people to associate with me. (I am aware that there are jokes to make. They are my gift to you who read this.) To have those I am wearing today be a pair I can wear today, then, was a good thing, even aside from the notion the event brings to mind.

Said notion is this: One of the blessings of adulthood is the lessened need to buy new clothes. Yes, I know there are many clothes-horses out in the world; I lived in The City for many years, after all, and one of the buildings in which I worked also hosted a fashion school. (It made for interesting elevator conversations.) I have no problem with people spending their disposable income on clothes if they want; if the money is earned rightly and they are not neglecting obligations they have toward me )and, yes, some of you still owe me), then I little care what they do with it. And I can respect those whose arts are sartorial; even if I lack the training to appropriately critique and interpret the art, I recognize that statements are being made by the art, and I am aware that much is invested in it in terms of time, resources, and effort. But while the artist may well operate under need, the clothes-horse does not, and many are like me in that they do not buy new clothes unless the old ones fail to fit, are somehow ruined, or a special occasion demands a particular piece not already had (e.g. a black suit for a funeral or a dinner jacket for a formal dinner).

I recall that my youth saw annual clothes-shopping in advance of school, as well as replacements throughout the school year as my body changed or I suffered the effects of others' energies. (Even as a child, I was not outdoorsy. Perhaps it had to do with being beaten on playgrounds more than once.) I also still have shirts bought in high school that fit me well and look decent, as well as pants bought at the beginning of graduate school that still serve. They contrast with what the Mrs. and I have already acquired, sent away, and acquired again for Ms. 8, as well as what we anticipate having to do similarly in the years to come. She changes more rapidly than do her mother and I--and I hope to better effect. Her wardrobe, already burgeoning thanks to friends, grandparents, and thrift stores, follows suit. (Yes, I know...)

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Many voices sing out
The din ringing in a bell
Not struck
Not made sensitive by application of spirits
And some of them are other
Than are usually lifted up
In and around this place

Why the bell is ringing
Why it has been ringing
Days now without let
Is unclear
As is the ringing's tone
Some off-key sound

It needs to be muted

Saturday, June 27, 2015


The freelance piece on which I was working yesterday is done, submitted, and accepted. Another quickly succeeded it; I am reading the new Mary Higgins Clark novel. It shows up for me as a scant 260 pages, so it should be a quick read, indeed, and a concomitantly quick write-up. It will not pay quite as well as the last one, admittedly, but it will still pay decently enough, and I can still very much use the money, even if it is not so much money as I might prefer to have coming in. (I could also wish for ways to deploy the reading done for the freelance work into reading done for my scholarly work or my regular job. I suppose I should take better notes as I read, thinking along those lines.)

The rain that had been called for yesterday did not fall as planned, at least not at Sherwood Cottage. It is a mixed blessing; the rain is needed, but its lack pushes back just a little bit more when I must next mow the yard. Then again, yardwork would be good for me to do; I can use the physical activity, as I have attested before. There is still other work to do though, and it is not the kind of thing that I can do while I am pushing a lawnmower or running a trimmer. (It is kind of fun to run the trimmer, though. When I next attend to the lawn at Sherwood Cottage, I will need to trim and edge. It has been long, indeed, since I attempted the latter. I am badly out of practice. It is not the only thing in which I am.)

The big news from yesterday is, of course, the ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States of America that same-sex marriage is legal. Many people are offended by the ruling, including some members of the Court and a number of persons I know from living where I have lived and do live, and from being akin to them. I seem to recall a number of them saying that those who do not like the country--because they disagree with its laws or with the presence in office of those elected or appointed to it--can leave it. (I seem to recall a number of others, not known to me personally but only through their public declarations, who have said that they would divorce their spouses or kill themselves if marriage equality became the law of the land.) I am expected to adhere to my word, once given, and I do not make nearly so much of my faith as I have heard them make of theirs. I do not think it too much to expect that people will either follow through with what they say they will do or live in shame at being proven liars or cowards. But I am admittedly not a nice man, and I have said before that I am a hypocrite...

Friday, June 26, 2015


Work continues, as ever seems to be the case. I am still at work on the one freelance project; I have been remarkably tired lately, which is inhibiting my ability to work when I have the opportunity to do so. Whether it is because I am not eating as well as I ought to or, more likely, because I am not getting enough physical activity, I am annoyed by the circumstance, and I do not know how to correct it. I do not know when I can work to cook during the day or fit in a workout when I am already committed either to tending to Ms. 8 or to working on the freelance work, not and still keep the house reasonably clean while the Mrs. works at her regular job. (She managed to pick up an extra day, and thus the pay for that extra day, this week, which is a benefit to us all.) I do not know how to find the energy when I am already fatigued by doing the amount I already do; how I will add more eludes me.

As it does, the weather continues to show itself fit for summer. Temperatures have been in the 90s F and humidity has continued to be up. Rain is expected this morning, which will make this afternoon all the more miserable; when the sun emerges after the rain, it will steam off what has fallen, and while a sauna may be good every now and again, it is good in part because it can be escaped. When it is everywhere, it is less pleasant--even though we can still use the rain, at least in this part of the world. Each time it falls could be the last we will see at Sherwood Cottage for some months.

When I looked at my readership figures this morning, I noticed that relatively few looked at the blog yesterday. (This discounts the odd occasional spike that happened on the 23rd.) I have to wonder if a weak iteration of Poe's Law is at work with it; it should be obvious from the context of my other writing in this webspace and the labels appended to the post that I am not offering a sincere testimony in the piece I posted yesterday. It joins one or two other bits of verse in that line, and I have to think that I tend to be more formal in my verse construction when I am making an attempt at satire or criticism in the verse than when I am not. (The exception is elegiac verse, in which I tend to emulate Anglo-Saxon alliterative lines. I mean it when I say "I kick it old school," after all.) Whether that is because I am accustomed to such constructions in such circumstances as a result of my studies of language and literature or because I am steeped more subliminally in a culture that does such things, I am not certain--although the former is more likely than the latter. There are some things that formal education allows that informal is far less likely to facilitate, after all...

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It's half a year 'til Christmas
And we must strike first
There is a war against the Faith
Waged by the accursed

Atheists and pagans
Hindus, Muslims, Jews
Demand consideration, so we
Complain in the "news"

"Happy Holidays"
Is not enough to say
Jesus is the season's reason
And He must be praised

But it's enough to say it
Maybe spare some change
Because doing anything
Would surely be deranged

It's about the gifting
Buying many things
And can you tell me, what's the price
Of those five golden rings?

Never mind the teaching
Forget the needle's eye
No one is a neighbor when
It's so hard to get by

Go out now and buy
And rage against the words
Fight now for your very souls
Against the heathen curs

It's half a year 'til Christmas
And in this Christian land
The war on Christmas will be won
Unless you take a stand

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


A year ago, I wrote a short piece of verse (as though any I write and post here are otherwise) describing some of my writing as weeding a garden and some of it as feeding weeds through spreading shit around. I do not know that my opinion has changed in the year since. I do more writing now than then, to be sure--I have more freelance work going and more in other projects on which I am working--even though Ms. 8 requires more attention now than she did then. Infants largely stay where they are put, while toddlers very much do not (except while they sleep, a blissful time for all involved). To follow the metaphor from a year before, my garden patch is larger, and I am selling produce from it. But I am still contending with many weeds and spreading loads of shit on the plot

I worry that I am so accustomed to the work of that spreading that I no longer smell the smell, or that I am approaching that point rapidly. For much of what I read is not of the highest quality; some of it is quite good, with engaging plots and characters and much to untangle, but some of it is very much not, being hackneyed and trite and still somehow selling well enough to make readers' guides for them a going concern. (It is one of the reasons I am envious of many writers. Making money on schlock...) The writing I do in response, while paying decently enough that I am not complaining about the task, is largely formulaic. I deploy some of what damned well ought to be highly trained critical faculties in identifying and interpreting various features of the texts I treat, but there is only so much I can do within the three to five days each job allows me, only so much I can write within five thousand words when many of them must be taken up by chapter summaries and some of them are eaten up in formatting. I rarely have the opportunity in such work to stretch out, and since that seems to be most of the writing I do, I worry that I am losing the ability to stretch because of the lack of opportunity. I worry that I am losing the ability to read other things as well as I used to for much the same reason; my journal reading still suffers.

I try to allay such fears in the other projects I do. I am not as active a scholar as I ought to be, certainly, but I am active, and that activity helps me to be able still to do what I spent a good many years and incurred much debt to be able to do. Other writing functions similarly, when I can get around to doing it (the lure of the paycheck interferes greatly). But that last bit, the "when I can get around to doing it," is telling. There are not enough hours in the day, or I have not enough strength or discipline to make the best use of them, or some other such thing...It is a shitty situation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Another freelance piece has come in, this one treating the most recent James Patterson cooperative novel. I have only just purchased the text; I have not yet read it. Even so, I do find myself somewhat envious. I am able to make some small amount of money from my writing work. Freelancing is not exactly a volunteering project for me, and I am fortunate to have a regular client who happily pays on time, every time, and even offers bonuses. That said, I would like to be able to make more money as a writer than I do, and I know that that means I need to spend more time writing--and not just to order, but to sell through other means. (And I have to get over a number of other hangups, as well, but those need not be explicated here.)

I do spend a fair bit of time writing already, admittedly. Posts to this webspace do take some time, usually around twenty minutes for me (of which some time is spent in contemplation, some searching for links to embed to justify my assertions--because I am a scholar, after all--and some spent correcting typographical errors or realigning phrasing to better effect, although the last receives less attention from me than perhaps it ought), and I try with too little success to keep a daily journal. I also work on letters and resumes, as well as maintaining other web presences, and all of those are accomplished through putting words onto pages. Too few of them pay, however, and so when a job comes in, I usually drop the rest of what I am doing to attend to it. The lure of the paycheck is strong; I cannot work on The Work or any other work without the access to resources promised by said paycheck. More's the pity.

In all honesty, the freelance work is not terribly difficult. It has me read novels and write about them, usually some five thousand words (including headings) at a crack; if undisturbed, I can usually turn a project around in two days, meaning I can turn in three or four a week when the work is present and I am allowed to sit and do it. I cannot count on the work being present, though, and I know better than to think that most days will allow me to sit and attend to it. Ms. 8 is more important, and seeing to her immediate needs trumps seeing to the more remote that freelance work allows me to address. The Mrs. understands work a bit better than our daughter does, appropriately enough, but she also needs attention that prompts me to set work aside. One to two a week is what I can reliably generate, then, when the work is on offer. It is not always so.

That it is not, though, is not always a bad thing. Yes, I can more or less always use the money; having a kid and owing debts ensure that. But when the projects are not forthcoming, I am able to attend to the other work that I do, and if that is not the same in the summer as in the fall and spring, it is not less pressing upon me. For this is when I ought to be working on The Work when I have not paying work to do. It is the knowledge-hunting season, and I have yet to meet my limit.

Monday, June 22, 2015


On 20 June 2015, my friend and former coworker, Dr. Jon Bakos, posted "What's the Deal with Poetry?" to his blog, We Brew Good, Like We Used to Could. In the piece, Bakos argues that the sharp decline in poetry readership stems from a disjunction between engagement with poetry and prevailing media consumption patterns. In his view, poetry is presented as a thing done, and contemporary audiences want a greater degree of interaction than such presentation permits. The argument is eloquent and well-articulated, raising a number of good points. I do not agree with it, however, at least not entirely.

I find, for instance, that the decline in poetry reading predates the advent of the interactive technologies Bakos cites as the major platforms for current discussion and dissection of media products. That is, people stopped or slowed their reading of poetry long before YouTube and Twitter arose to allow readers to see and comment aspersively on what they see.

I find also that the discussion of performance contexts needs to go far further. Admittedly, attendees of poetry readings do not typically field questions amid the performance. Neither do television actors. Nor do musicians who sell out concert arenas. Nor yet do many of myriad other performers and artists in live performance. Conflating a poetry reading with buying a volume of poetry and reading it is disingenuous and distracting; they are different phenomena entirely, and both differ from watching a posted video and commenting on it. (And, I might add, most of the poets I have known are pleased to have their works critiqued and dissected for their meanings.)

That said, Bakos raises several good points. He correctly identifies a participatory desire in the mainstream audience, a desire to feel part of a community that happens to be easily sated by discussion of mass-media events. Witness the traditional water-cooler talk about last night's game and the prospects for next season, or long-standing identifications of fandom, whether of television/cinematic properties or genres or performing musical groups (the KISS Army comes to mind, as does its refiguration or successor: the Juggalo)--among many others. And I do think there is a perception of poets, particularly, as "unassailable," although I think it is extended to many "traditional" literary artists. "Art is what you make of it," after all, so "How can you say any of it isn't good?" as my students have had it. (Easily, it turns out.) Less traditional media, less rarefied therefore, is more amenable to "popular" commentary and dissection. (Lawrence W. Levine's Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America, although perhaps a bit dated, offers a useful discussion of the phenomenon.)

His Addendum is particularly telling in that regard; Bakos is spot-on in noting that many people do not feel qualified to discuss poetry. While I disagree in part with his assertions about inclusiveness--there is tension in fan communities about who real fans are, as Helen Young attests in "Race in Online Fantasy Fandom: Whiteness in Westeros.org" (Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 28.5 [2014]), and they are based in no small part on exclusionary discourses--the "in-group arcaneness" that Bakos mentions is very much afoot. I would assert that it is so in part because most people are taught badly; many teachers of English do not do well with the subject, or not so well as they need to to present it well. I have discussed the matter repeatedly before; the discussion is linked and need not be presented again here.

And it might be said, as well, that the "decline" in poetry readership is not an actual thing, but a perception hearkening back to a nostalgic idea that somehow people in the recent past were more attuned to poetry than "kids these days" are. I think the issue is more that access and dissemination spread further than they did in the mid-twentieth century. The sociocultural elite read poetry (as a class marker), and many of the elite thinkers still read poetry (as an aid to thinking). The availability of easy, largely passively consumed media, however, much as the easy availability of high-sugar and -salt foods, lends to emphasis of such media, and the greater access to public discussion forums and an increasing validation that peoples' opinions are to be expressed and attended account for the fact that there is more talk of things other than poetry as much as the bad teaching of verse does.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


It is Fathers' Day again, and I am once again not only with the young lady who allows me to celebrate the holiday but with one I enable to celebrate it, as well as my wife's father. This will be the second year we have gotten together for the event, and it seems an enjoyable thing. We may have to keep doing it for a while. There are some advantages to living in such a place as Sherwood Cottage, such that we can all meet together for a Fathers' Day or other holiday. There are disadvantages, certainly, but it is good to be in such proximity to loved ones and their support. We have needed it, and it is helpful to have it.

Yesterday's smoking went well. While I ended up using too much black pepper in the rub (it did not scale evenly), the pork itself came out remarkably moist and tender, and the flavor under the black pepper was quite good. It emboldens me to continue to pursue smoking meats, which I have not done much since moving away from The City. It is strange that I smoked more there than here, where there is a culture that supports such activities and space in which to conduct them. Then again, it is not entirely inexpensive to run the smoker, and money does not flow so freely at Sherwood Cottage as in The City and the Best of the Boroughs. It may be worth continuing to do such a thing, though.

Today should be a fairly easy day. I have a little bit of work to do yet on my freelance piece; I knocked most of it out yesterday around running the smoker, but I left off not long before my parents arrived on their return trip from Missouri and Iowa, so there are a few words yet to compile. After that, I have other writing I need to do for other blogging and more formal writing projects that need doing, and there are a couple of job applications waiting for my attention. I also need to clean up the smoker from yesterday. While letting it sit overnight allows it to cool enough that it can be handled, there are things in the device that ought not to be allowed to remain unattended much longer than that. It will wait for breakfast, but not much past that. Still, that job is easy, if perhaps unpleasant, and it is soon accomplished.

Even on a holiday, there is work to be done. But I do not do well without tasks to accomplish; I find it a challenge to simply sit and be, thinking it somehow wasteful of my time and talents and an abrogation of who and what I am. That it is the day it is means only that I say "thank you" to my father and hear it said on my daughter's behalf (Ms. 8 still does not have the words to do so); it is still for me and those like me to do what gets thanked, whether it does or not on any day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Today, I am doing something I have not done in some time: running the smoker. The Mrs. and I have two pork loins cooking in sweet hickory smoke over many hours today, and they promise to be quite tasty, indeed. My mouth already waters at the thought, in fact, and I wonder why it is that I have let so long pass between when I last did the work of smoking tasty, tasty meat and today. It is a thing I have long enjoyed doing, as I think I have attested in this webspace, one of the few out-of-door activities and "traditional" American masculinities I actively and explicitly enjoy (in the sense of "take direct pleasure from" rather than "benefit from," since I am aware that I experience significant privilege because I am a man).

This was pointed up yesterday as the Mrs., Ms. 8, my in-laws, and I went to Bricktown in the City of Thunder and puttered about. That puttering took us to an expansive outdoors store, one filled with hunting and fishing accoutrements, rifles and shotguns and poles and lures and jigs. I was bewildered by the display, confused by it in large part (except for the smoking and camp-cooking, with which I am familiar), and aware that it is not aimed at me (again, except for the grills). I am flatly not an outdoorsman, not a rugged individualist comfortable away from society and civilization, out in the woods with a knife and axe and rifle to make my way.

I do not want to fashion myself in such a way, as many so desire who shop at the outdoors store. (I have the sneaking suspicion that those who are such people without having to be fashioned are already out and away, or they make no commotion about the thing.) I know that I would rather be inside at home with a book in one hand and a drink appropriate to the time of day (coffee in the morning, iced tea in the afternoon, beer in the early evening, whisky or whiskey later on) in the other. I know that, while I do like my privacy, I like access to the things that population density permits, as well, and that I can make my privacy with a shut door. And while I have respect for the outdoors and appreciate what it can provide, I would rather stay inside--or, if the weather is right, on my front porch. (I believe in porch culture.)

But that does not mean I do not question how I fit in amid a masculinity that values at least the display of outdoorsiness. It is perhaps from something related to that anxiety that I value as highly as I do the work of the smoker I have going on even now, work that allows me to stay close to home--the smoker is in my driveway--while still doing a "man" thing, recognized as such by even the more bluff and rugged folks to whom I am akin and around whom I find myself surrounded, the town and the countryside against the gown I sought long and now seldom wear.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Despite my late start to the day, freelance work continues. I read through a new novel yesterday and completed something like a fifth of the write-up that had been ordered. Whether or not I will complete the task today is unclear to me; my wife's father is in for Father's Day weekend, and my own father will be joining us tomorrow. We will be a bit busy, so I am not sure if I will be able to spend the time I need to get the job done in the day. Normally, since the Mrs. is at home on Fridays, I am able to write, but this is not a normal situation. It is not unwelcome, certainly, but it is not normal--however "normal" my life is.

That I am not fully recovered is obvious to me. I still feel the heat of a summer within me no less than the summer without. (And that summer, now that the storms have passed by Sherwood Cottage, will turn hot, and humid before it dries out again. There is standing water in the yard, and while it will soon go away, it needs to go away.) I am still more easily fatigued than I ought to be--although some of that is a result of my not exercising nearly enough, I am certain. There are times I consider trying to take up a more active life, although I realize well that I am not likely to be hired for the work that relates to that life. Why take on a pudgy thirty-something who might ask questions and might look askance at things that might not be entirely ethical or legal and might ask for raises now and again when hard-muscled and pliant eighteen-year-olds will do the work cheaply?

I drift away from the point, though. Matters at home are much as they are expected to be. Ms. 8 rails against things being otherwise than she would have them, screaming in angry frustration at needing to be washed or having a toy set aside for the moment. The Mrs. bustles about, displaying her excellence yet again as she tends to the home and the people within it--more now than usual, but not as many as have been here or will be. I sit still at my desk, pressing keys in advance of pressing more keys and more keys yet, writing freelance orders and filling out job applications and in the few free moments those two things allow attending to such other projects as constitute my part of The Work. (On that topic, a book in which I have a chapter is out. You might buy it or recommend that your library do so. And you thought you'd get away without having a link from me...) It is nothing of which to complain, in itself, although I could wish to see more overt benefits from the work that I do than I do. But I think I am hardly alone in that; who doesn't want a raise?

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I suppose I ought to comment on events in Charleston, that as a member of the blogosphere I am expected to do so because it is how things are done. And they are lamentable. But I am not there; I have only heard of the events through a few news outlets; I have not followed up on the event. I do not know enough to speak with authority on the matter, and so, aside from affirming that the events are lamentable, what is there for me to say? What can I say or do that will matter? Who will benefit from my looking on, aghast and perversely intrigued (because I am, and I am not the only one)? I cannot think there are many answers, and certainly not many satisfying ones, and I think the same will be true for many others who would write about the matter from removal similar to mine. It is something I have said before, and in this webspace, although I seem not to be able to find again where or when I did so.

(I might note that my wife asserts that while there may not be much she or I could say about the event that would be of use, there are things we can do about the climate that enables such events, at least in the place where we are. I am fortunate to have so wise a woman with me.)

Although it always seems an oddity when horrible things happen, life goes on elsewhere. Here, at Sherwood Cottage, the weather continues to be wet. What is left of Bill is influencing the area substantially, although the remnants seem poised to move on before too long. Hot days are expected to follow, which will make for a climate familiar to me from life in Cajun Country and in The City (which people forget is a port town and thus likely to be humid--and because it is so much concrete, steel, and glass, as well as machines and millions of people, it is hot and smelly), although I could long for the quality and diversity of food that accompanies the climate in those places. Some boudin would not be amiss, nor would a tasty bagel with some lox. I would not like them at the same time, however. I do not think a boudin bagel would work so well. I could be wrong; I am willing to try.

New freelance work has presented itself, which pleases me. I get to spend today at work reading a new novel, and the next couple of days will see me do the usual write-up. It is a shorter text, so the write-up will be relatively short, only some five thousand words. Still, the payout will be pleasing enough, and it is good to ease back into work after taking a while away from it. I can hope that more will follow after the current job is done; I continue to be able to use the money each new piece of work represents.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Having to lay out
To lay on the couch
Because sitting is a challenge
Does not mean that other things
Also lay out
Hang out
Wait calmly for
They wait
They must
But not calmly
Not at all
Clamoring to be done
And done now
Whether they can be
Or not

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


I have been busy, been ill, and had company. None of these are conducive to writing, although the last is by far more pleasant than the other two; I am not complaining of the company, but I wish I could have enjoyed it more. The effects of illness yet linger; I am tired beyond what I ought to be, and I still feel the summer within me as without. I am on the mend, though; I am better than I was, although not as good as I ought to be and normally am (for varying definitions of "good," admittedly). I can hope for continued improvement; the alternative is worse, and I do not need to have such a "worse" anytime soon.

Today should be a fairly easy day. I knocked out a freelance piece yesterday, which piece has been accepted and paid for. Another has not yet arrived, and although there is more work for me to do on other projects, I do not know if I will tend to it at a leisurely pace or rest entirely. The latter seems a better idea, but I also know that the work needs to be done and I may well feel better from the accomplishment of tasks than from resting from them. Matters do not press upon me today, though, and that is a welcome respite, whatever it is that I do with that respite. I do not yet know how I shall proceed. I suppose I'll find out.

Storms are again in the forecast for the area around Sherwood Cottage. They have been coming irregularly over the past few days; the trend looks to continue for a few days, or at least it did when last I looked at what the meteorologists say about the matter. I am not sure how one enters that profession, what programs of study or sets of experiences lead to it. I am sure that something does, however; I doubt that the NOAA would commission officers up to and including flag rank without that there is something leading to it, and I know that there are other agencies concerned with such things.

We continue to need the rain. The rivers are receding, despite having been in mighty floods not so long ago. Slower rain than led to those floods would be helpful, however, and that seems to be what is coming. The yard does need to be mowed again, but that is far better than it having to be watered; I have not figured up the costs, of course, but it seems that the dry helps to make fires possible, and I like my fires confined and put to the work of making things for me to use and eat--I do so enjoy grilling. Whether or not the weather will allow such things when I am actually able to do them, though, remains to be seen. It is something for which I hope, and something else I suppose I'll find out.

Monday, June 15, 2015


I have had the summer within me
Reddening my skin

Growing up in the South
And in the beginning of the Southwest
I am no stranger to summer
Months of heat
But there is shade to be found in many places
Some respite from the glare of the sun
And it makes things bearable

That only happens
When the summer is outside
And inside can be kept

When the summer is inside
There is no place to which to flee from the heat

When it is in both places
As it has been for me
It is not at all a pleasure

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Company is coming to Sherwood Cottage today; my folks will be up from the Hill Country. Because some part of creation is a smartass, I am also dealing with allergies or a head cold (I am unsure which), as is the Mrs. Ms. 8 seems to be clear of it at the moment, save for a bit of a plugged nose; I am grateful for it, as she does not respond well to being de-snotted in any way, shape, or form. I understand it, of course, as I am not fond of having my nose wiped for me or my nostrils aspirated. (Yes, I know about neti pots. No, I do not use them. Feels too much like drowning, and I've been closer to drowning more often than I care to recall.) That I understand, however, does not make dealing with it easier.

Weather about the place continues to be interesting. Rain has been moving in again, which remains good; despite the seeming monsoon of not too long ago, the rivers are receding, which tells me we still need more water in the area. The current storms are coming erratically, however, with sudden downpours of limited area that do not last long. One fell on the grocery store to which the Mrs., Ms. 8, and I went yesterday evening. Rain fell intensely for five or so minutes and tapered off for the next fifteen. None fell on Sherwood Cottage, however--at least at that point. Ours hit during the night, if the states of the driveway and the road onto which it opens are any indication. I am glad I mowed the yard recently; it will make doing so when next I must easier, I hope.

Freelance work continues, which I appreciate (not least for the paycheck). I am amid the write-up of Gabaldon's Voyager, although I am not making as much progress on it as I should like. The state of my head makes it more difficult to do, the congestion in the physical being mirrored in the mental. I have several more days to get the project done, though, so I am not terribly worried. Ms. 8 will sleep, and I can do some work while she does. Also, my parents are coming up; with them here, I need not worry so much about each individual moment with Ms. 8. Having more eyes to observe her makes a difference, and having those eyes be part of people who understand that work must be done makes the difference a helpful one. They will certainly appreciate the time with her.

About the write-ups: It may seem a bit odd that I am working over a novel that is more than twenty years old at this point, particularly since most of the write-ups I do are of novels only recently released. (Indeed, the last several orders have been issued on books released the same day as the order issue.) Some of the older-piece orders are for books only recently optioned into or about to be released as movies, so that the writing is newly popular. Others back-fill series still in progress, with the new releases receiving attention and the older releases receiving treatment for the sake of completeness. They all pay the same, so I am happy to do them--although I would be happier to have a clearer head, indeed...

Friday, June 12, 2015


The yawning pit opens
Structures above it parting
Stretching a chasm wide
It waits to be filled

However much is put into it
Churns and roils
And falls at length
Into other holes

Sacrifices must be made
Things born but to die in such a way
Killed and carved and cast down
And it is never enough

Of such offerings
But not inspiring awe

Unless they are rejected
Cast again
But into that place
Where the accepted arrive in time
And thence are taken away

Thursday, June 11, 2015


I realize that I am later writing this than I normally am. Ms. 8 needed attention, and she is more important. She is also down for a nap, now, and so I have a little bit to do the writing that I try (with less success than I would like) to do each day.

I have heard the news that Christopher Lee has died. I have made the following comment in a few places: "Why mourn? He is clearly in Valhalla or something equally gloriously metal!" I supposed I will need to address the issue on Travels in Genre and Medievalism (to which more contributions are decidedly welcome) in the next day or so.

In the meantime, a freelance piece has come up, and I am at work on it now. This time, I get to read Diana Gabaldon's Voyager, the third member of the Outlander series. It is not the first book in that series I have treated; I actually had to deal with Written in My Own Heart's Blood upon its publication, having previously read none of the series, and I later read the second novel, Dragonfly in Amber. It is, after all, a bit later than my usual field of study, although I am certain that I could mine the works for their medievalist impulses. Holdovers from the medieval lingered into the eighteenth century in abundance, even as they still linger in the twenty-first.

Weather around Sherwood Cottage continues to approach the summer. Temperatures range into what even I, Texan by upbringing, acknowledge as "hot," and the humidity is high enough to make the experience entirely unpleasant. Unlike The City and Cajun Country, in both of which I have had the pleasant experience of combined heat and humidity, there is little to distract from that heat; The City at least had enough to do in the cool to allow for pleasant diversion, and Cajun Country has food that makes enduring the climate worth doing. (I do miss easy access to boudin and fresh cracklins.) Here, there is not so much. I am not certain why there is not, but I do not appreciate it.

I do appreciate having run the grill last night, however. Last night saw chicken breast get cooked over charcoal and mesquite chips, along with sweet potatoes and a garden salad. (I did not grill the last.) There is a fair amount left over; I think we will be having dinner salads tonight, eating the leftovers sliced over the remaining garden salad makings, possibly with some grated cheese in the offering. It seems a good way to go, as well as a way to have dinner without heating the house. Robb Walsh's comments about peculiar perversities in summertime cooking are spot-on, after all, and Sherwood Cottage already suffers from a lack of insulation and too much openness to the outside world.

Today will not likely be exceptional. It will likely be productive, though, and that is something else I appreciate greatly. I like having work to do; I simply wish to have it be more stable than is currently the case.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


I am a bit miffed that more freelance work is not yet forthcoming. It has not been often since, oh, April 2014 that I have gone so long without a new order coming in from a particular client. Since said client pays quite well for me to do work that I usually enjoy and at which I excel, I am somewhat concerned. The income stream represented has been a useful addition to my finances, after all. Such gaps in the work available, though, remind me why I have not thrown off "regular" employment entirely; there is much to be said in favor of stability when others are dependent on a particular person's income, even if it is less than could be desired. Hence my continued search for long-term regular work.

And that search certainly continues. I have sent out hundreds of job applications since the beginning of this year. Literally hundreds. I have gotten maybe a dozen or a score of phone or video interviews for that effort, which have resulted in two on-campus interviews so far. (I say "so far" because there are still a number of applications outstanding. Many of them will never offer a reply. Some, however, still might, and they might end up leading to on-campus events.) Neither resulted in my being made an offer. When I have followed up, a couple dozen times at this point, I either heard nothing back or was told "There wasn't anything wrong with your application. We just had a large number of highly-qualified applicants." (There was one exception, but not this year.)

The experience is sadly typical, from what I have been told by those who actually sit on hiring committees and by others on the job market over drinks and with increasing bitterness. HR departments forbid sending notices of being turned down. Actual hiring criteria are ill-defined. Student ratings, understood to be substantially flawed even when administered with some semblance of control (let alone free online ones), factor heavily into hiring decisions. And, of course, there is no help available, or if there is, there is such animus against asking for help that it might as well not be in place. (The academic life is one of knowledge work. Admitting a lack of knowledge is perilous, at best.) But to point such things out is to make excuses and to suggest that quitting is an option--despite hundreds of applications sent out in half a year after several years of doing the same thing and twelve years earning degrees. Because, of course, none of that even breathes of a work ethic and stick-to-it attitude. And, of course, being angry at trying and trying and trying and trying hundreds and hundreds of times and getting nowhere is a "bad attitude" that gets in the way, as though a smile will make everything better. "Oh, well, another job application that never received a response, another few dollars and hours spent that will never come back and have resulted in no benefit, tra la la la la, how fun! Thank you, committees, may I have another?" But there's a plan; everything will work out as it should, right? Of course, the thought never occurs that a world that creates such things as the platypus and allows such things as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot has a morbid, sadistic sense of humor. Oh, no, of course not.

I assure you that I am smiling now, my mouth stretching so far wide to show my teeth that my lips are splitting. Am I getting a job yet?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The dental appointment I had yesterday went well. My teeth got their semi-annual cleaning, and the dentist reported that there were no problems with my mouth--at least, none medical. The dentist is the wrong kind of doctor, though, to know about the problems I do have with my mouth--and, as rarely happens, I am the right kind of doctor for it. It is a small victory, to be sure, but it is a victory, and I value it therefore.

I will be getting the Mrs. and Ms. 8 back today, something which I also value. The past few days have not been bad ones; I have gotten some things done that I had been putting off, things that are more difficult to do while watching a little one (although, admittedly, not so many as I should have liked). Having a small taste of bachelorhood again was useful; it reminded me that I can function independently, even now, but it also served to remind me how much the Mrs. and Ms. 8 add to my life. Sherwood Cottage has been all too empty without them, my own work in it limited and a heaviness settling upon it that is too unwieldy for me to lift alone. Having the additional hands working will help greatly.

Having been alone these last few days has also reminded me that my tendency is to withdraw from things. I could have gone out to bars, either for coffee or for beer, but I did not. Instead, I stayed home, not leaving Sherwood Cottage all that often. I did talk to people, and I wrote such that others could see it (as witness the last few posts to this webspace), but I remained firmly and easily within the familiar. Not that it was entirely comfortable to do so. I know I should get out more and be around new people more often, that I ought to explore what is on offer in this place, little though it may well be. (I hardly know; I don't get out much.) But I somehow always convince myself that I should not. "I can't afford it," after all, and "I never really enjoy it when I do, or hardly ever, not enough to spend the money." And these things are true, so I stay home, bemoaning my isolation while doing not a damned thing to get around it and indeed reinforcing it, the arguments hardening habits.

It is fortunate, then, that I have the Mrs. and Ms. 8 in my life. I'd not amount to much without them, really; it is through them--and mostly through the Mrs., honestly--that I am connected to the world (except for my regular job, but that is in abeyance at the moment, and there are limits to connectivity imposed by avowedly temporary employment, even when coworkers are such excellent people as mine are). Without them, I would have my little place on the planet, but very little else. It does not seem a good thing...

Monday, June 8, 2015


The weather around Sherwood Cottage continues to be warm, ranging into hot (which really only begins at 90 F or 32 or so C), the air humid but not releasing the rain that had previously been forecast. (There is still rain in the forecast, but not for today, not so far as I have seen.) I remain mystified by how humid it is here, actually, given how far Sherwood Cottage stands from the sea. A state or more lies between it and the shore, so how the air remains so heavy with moisture eludes me. (One idea does present itself, something I have noted before, and if the moisture in the air is unreleased, one has to wonder what is the cause of the heavens' blue.)

Against that weather, I have done a few things around the house. One of the blinds we had on our windows broke and fell away; I finally got it replaced. The delay was caused in part by my laziness, admittedly, but only in part. Most of the leases in the town seem to end at the end of May and beginning of June, so that people in frantic pursuit of getting their deposits returned do an awful lot of home repair leading up to it. This often means they need new blinds, and the windows in Sherwood Cottage are evidently of the most common size that needs new blinds. It is hard to replace something when no replacement part is available, after all. But, as I noted, I finally got the job done.

I also hung and re-hung curtains. Sherwood Cottage is cooled by window units, a common situation here. The living room and each of the two bedrooms have their own. (The "and" makes the subject plural despite the "each," O, grammar Nazis!) Those in the bedrooms are aided by having curtains hung in the doorways, effectively isolating the air in each from that of the rest of the house. Both have such curtains, now; we had previously only had them up in the doorway to Ms. 8's room. Too, the curtain rods in her room and in the living room had been badly bent, not least because necessary hardware was missing. Those rods have been replaced, the correct hardware installed; sagging should not be so much a problem for them anymore. Other sagging is a different matter altogether.

Today will see me return to the dentist once again. Looking back at my comments about a previous visit, I realize that I have let slip something I ought not to have done. I can hope it will not be too much of a problem, although I am the wrong kind of doctor to actually know whether it will be or not. Then again, finding out is part of why I go to other doctors; they have knowledge and expertise I lack. I could wish, though, that others would seek mine similarly...

Sunday, June 7, 2015


How restorative a sleep can be
A small simulacrum of death
That better follows another little death
Than not
But if we think the thing
Like another
Is another
Metaphor instead of simile
Then every time we wake
We are zombies
Returned by means other than divine
For an ending more permanent
Insidious chemicals and manipulations of energies
For control
And most of us do drudge about
Bound to patterns of being
Of doing
From which we benefit little
While others benefit much

How figurative is the figure?

Saturday, June 6, 2015


As I have noted once or twice in the past, today is my parents' anniversary. Thirty-four years, now, they have been Mr. and Mrs., which is something I celebrate. Since they expect to be at Sherwood Cottage this time next week, my Mrs. and I will do something nice for them then. But I already told them this, so my noting it here should be no big surprise. It won't be so big a thing as it was a few years back, more's the pity, but it will be something. I can hope they will appreciate it.

Going forward, it today will not only be their anniversary (and the globally more important one of D-Day, which I have also addressed), but that of one of my wife's cousins. She and Ms. 8 are in Texas to attend the wedding today, in fact. I hear from her that the trip went reasonably well, although it seems to have been long--but travel with Ms. 8 does extend travel times. (It is one of the things I wish I had been told to expect from parenting. I knew getting ready would take longer; I did not know that the actual drive time would. But it does--usually by a quarter to a third again as much. Prospective parents, take note.) I can hope they will enjoy themselves today, as well, and over the next few days.

I put yesterday to good use. No new freelance work had come in, which is a bit of a let-down, but I was able to get several job applications sent off--four, I think. I also worked on reading the academic journals I receive, finding some good materials in them as I always do. It has been too long since I have gotten to sit and study, and I had forgotten how good it feels to drink in knowledge and understanding on its own terms and for its own sake, using it as building block or pushing-off point in the development of new knowledge not so much to meet some impending deadline for a paper or a piece of work, but simply to work towards a new imminent obsolescence. Not that what I am figuring out will not end up in a new paper of one sort or another. It simply will not quite yet.

There is more to do, of course. I still have a foot-tall (30cm to my metric readers) stack of reading through which to work, and various things around Sherwood Cottage could use some attention. (Cats are not kind to blinds, among others.) It is possible that more freelance work will come in, which will not annoy me in the least--I can use the money. And I can always work on one of those papers I mentioned as potentially growing from the readings I have done and am doing. It seems I am in for a productive Saturday, and that pleases me no end; I like to keep busy most of the time.

Friday, June 5, 2015


As I was writing in my journal last night after a day of freelancing (6,000 words for the job), I stumbled onto or into an idea for a classroom activity. It's not one I'll likely ever pursue, until and unless I find my way to tenure (which is less likely than I'd like it to be), but it is a fun idea to consider. To do so, I offer the following passages:
  1. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was somewhat painful."
  2. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was awfully painful."
  3. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was damned painful."
  4. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was damnably painful."
  5. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was blasted painful."
  6. After having kicked Jim in the face, Bob walked back into the bowling alley. He promptly tripped over a stray bowling shoe, falling and striking his head on a ball return. As he picked himself up, he said "That was fucking painful."
Other examples could be developed easily, to be sure, but the six above will demonstrate the point nicely. In each, the basic content is the same; the same basic situation is described, and the report Bob makes in each can be assumed to be more or less accurate. The only difference is in a single word changed across each example, an adverbial descriptor of the adjective in a copular relationship with the subject pronoun. And in that single changed word, much is revealed.

That revelation would be the thing to be discussed in the class. Connotations of the vulgarisms used would need explication. Comparative levels of obscenity would, too, as would the reasons behind those levels. I can guess that many who read this will call "fucking" more obscene than "damned," and that more obscene than "damnably," and that more so than "blasted," but why it would be would take a bit more untangling (as I have seen from some lively online discussions friends of mine have had). Each seems something worth looking into in a class that focuses on the uses of language--although I acknowledge that the current instructional climate would not look well on my teaching such a lesson. As I note above, it is a thing to plumb when and if I ever have tenure--and that seems a thing far off if still indeed present in the world...

Thursday, June 4, 2015


The weather around Sherwood Cottage approaches its late-spring normal. Rain is in the forecast for a few days from now, but until then, the weather is warm and the skies go from morning cloudiness to afternoon clarity so that the sun may play freely over the still-damp ground. The songs of lawnmowers pervade the air from sunup on, a full-day cacophony because the machines are tuned too closely together. How those whose ears work well take in such things is not clear; there are perhaps benefits to certain parts not doing as they ought to do. It is a microcosm of the felix culpa concept, the idea that rising can only happen because of a fall, and so the fall is fortunate. But if we are fortunate at Sherwood Cottage, it is because the rain has fallen and will fall again soon; while flooding presents problems and yards choked with weeks-unmown grass annoy, we are still in a rain deficit in the long term, and the water is welcome (although it could come slowly to better effect).

Work continues, as ever. Another freelance piece is in progress, albeit slow progress. The book read for it, Stephen King's Finders Keepers, is a good one, about which there is much to say. (I will not say it here; I have a job to do with it first. What is left over from the paid work may well go to the unpaid. Or not.) Another freelance piece is in the offing, a correction of work done badly by others. It is not the first such offer I have had, not the first such piece of work there has been for me to do. But it pays well enough, so I do not complain, and there is something flattering in being trusted to make right what has been done wrongly. (If it could result in a continuing-line job, that would be more flattering, but I will take what I can get in the meantime.) And I still look for other work to do; I cannot count on the freelancing, of course, and my "real" job is avowedly contingent and temporary. I am only visiting, after all.

The Mrs. and Ms. 8 are heading off for a few days. There is a wedding for them to attend, a family event where they are expected. I was also invited, of course, but work is as it is, and I am a curmudgeon, hardly good company. (I am still amazed that the Mrs. agreed to become my Mrs. I do not know what I offer that attracts her so. I doubt it is my vast wealth.) They will travel by train--the only civilized way--and meet with her mother and family. The Mrs. looks forward to the occasion. Ms. 8 seems annoyed to have been woken to make the trip. But the train leaves when it leaves, and it takes an hour to get to it from here, so I will have to have them underway soon.

I hope they enjoy it. I hope I can get enough done to make being here while they are there worth being.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


I missed my usual window for writing in this webspace; Ms. 8 needed attention more than my tries-but-fails-to-be-daily update did. At the moment, though, she is having a nap, and the device I use to help me do my freelance work is recharging, so I have a bit of an opportunity to pursue other writing at the moment. Hence, this, now.

At times, perhaps too many of them, I like to look back over what I have written in this webspace. Often, that backward look is used to pull up things that I have said before, either to use them to supplement what I am saying in the moment or to reconsider them otherwise. (I do occasionally find that I have been wrong, after all.) Sometimes, though it is simply to track what I have done on a given day across years. Holidays tend to be good about it, particularly since they offer convenient points of focus and relatively stable occurrence. Some other days are better about it than others; while I did reasonably well last year about writing often, last year seems to have been the exception to my usual practice of skipping out on a lot of writing. Today, for example, has only two previous entries (2013 and 2014) in more than five years of writing. (Last year's still reads entertainingly.) It is hardly exceptional in that.

There are gaps in my recollection, gaps in my record-keeping, gaps in my perception of reality; I no longer know what happened within them, if I ever really did. And I am not exceptional in that. Many people, perhaps most, keep no records of their doings, and for most of us, days run together into a blur that the mind skips over as it frolics or leaps or stumbles from notable point to notable point, although what is notable is not the same in each conception. What the Mrs. recalls and what I recall, for example, even of the time we have been together (more than five years married, close to ten in association), differs. (I think I would rather have hers than mine, for reasons that those who know me can doubtlessly guess.) The same is true of what my brother and I recall. And it is more than the differences enforced by standing in different spots, although those do factor into things. We do not even keep in mind and notable the same situations. Our minds settle on different things and follow different patterns entirely.

I know that I say nothing new or exciting herein. I rarely do, as glances over what I have written here will reveal. But that does not mean it has not been worth the writing. It is the pipe-clearing I have spoken of to students, letting the water run so that the old water or cold water is flushed out and what is desired can be allowed to pour out. And it is at least caulking over the gaps that always and ever threaten to form irregularly under the feet of a mind tripping about its business from day to day to day. Perhaps others will see and avoid stumbling.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


A couple of points of good news come to mind. The first is that the Tales after Tolkien volume in which I have a chapter, Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms: From Isaac Asmiov to A Game of Thrones, releases 18 June 2015. It has been a while since my work has been in print, and it will be good to have it happen again. If you are interested in medievalism--how the medieval is constructed and appropriated in the postmedieval--the book will be well worth buying. (I do not think I get any money from the work, but people buying, reading, and working with it will stroke my ego, and I like to have it stroked.)

The second is that I received a small honorarium yesterday. A couple of months ago, I participated in a survey of handbook usage, one that asked after how I teach with handbooks (grammar and usage guides, such as appear in the backs of many composition textbooks) and prompting me to get my students to report how they use them. I was paid for my contribution, although not much (but then, I did not spend much time in completing the survey or referring the student version to my pupils, so I do not complain), adding a little bit more to the household finances, as has happened before on occasion.

For it has happened before. Every couple of years, I receive an invitation to participate in such a survey, or to write a longer and more formal review of a textbook. Each time I do, I get a little money for doing it; those payouts, honoraria, range from $50 to $250 in my experience, offering a welcome bonus that often manifests as a dinner out with the Mrs. or a sudden payment against one of the many debts that I owe. Neither is likely the best use of the money; I ought to put it into some kind of investment rather than splurging on a meal, and it is not to my credit that I carry the debts I do (pardon the pun). And I might treat the money differently if it came in more predictably, but it is sporadic at best. It is a windfall when it happens, and I am not usually so adept as to catch it before it hits the ground.

That I may have to stoop and brush the dirt off of it does not mean I do not appreciate it. I may not trust it enough to keep it around long; I have had too many things spoil that I found otherwise than new and held onto in blind trust. But that does not mean I will not partake of a thing I find and find good. I would be an overly proud fool to do so, and I try to avoid folly. (I do not always succeed, to be sure.) I know that I am not so well off that I can turn aside the opportunity--or any, really. And to that end, the work continues, so I ought to attend to it.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Yesterday, the Mrs. and I attended church services, something we have been doing in large part to make sure that Ms. 8 is exposed to and gets to interact with people other than us at least a little bit each week. She seems to enjoy the experience, and I have to think that the socialization is good for her. The Mrs. reports also that she benefits from the experience, and I am invested in ensuring that both she and our daughter are enriched. I do try to be a good husband and father, after all, even if what being "good" in either role means is uncertain.

The Scripture reading and sermon focused on the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree in Luke 13:6-9. I was put in mind of something I wrote some time ago, linking the reading to Puritan poetry (despite the poet's yoking of the specific poem to John 6:51). I am not going to re-hash the explication of that particular connection; I think I did well enough with it in 2013 to leave it alone at present. (Exodus 33:23 comes to mind, though, God promising to show Moses what sounds much like the Divine Ass. There seems to be a scatological pattern, but I am not so skilled an exegete to pull it out more fully.) Instead, I will take the opportunity, prompted by the content of the sermon, to reflect on a comment made in the earlier discussion: "It is a message more common in the churches where I grew up than in the one I attend, admittedly, but it is present--and applicable." For the content of the sermon did put me in mind of the church I attended as a child, that in which my brother was baptized (an event I recall dimly) and one of my aunts got married (which I do not recall), and it was not entirely comfortable.

Those who have known me know that I spent a long time protesting against faith. Even now, after having been a reasonably active member of a Christian church (and in New York City, no less), I find that I am not at ease identifying as a member of that faith tradition, of aligning with it or embracing it. It means something different here than in The City--but that different meaning is much like that at work in the town where I grew up. (Much like, but not the same; it has not got quite the same social cachet where I live now as it did where I lived then.) Coupled with my being busier here than in The City--or feeling like it, somehow--it disinclines me to open myself more fully. That certain other needs of mine are also not being met, or have not yet been met, where the Mrs. and I have been sitting in the pews is also unhelpful.

Again, though, I am not going so much for me as for the Mrs. and Ms. 8. And perhaps I can, in pooh-poohing the experience, can help it bear fruit for my wife and child.