Saturday, December 13, 2008

"What is left is undetermined but I'll do fine"

First day off the Levaquin, and I'm hopeful I might get a night's sleep. I feel fairly "normal" tonight -- grateful I'm off the drug that seemed to hit my body hard. I have felt old and creaky and dispirited. In the meantime, I am off all dairy foods, have lost about seven pounds (which I needed to lose) and have been reminded yet again of the fragility of the body.

Classes are over and I'm almost done grading, so this blessed evening is proceeding with the glow of leisure that I haven't been able to afford for weeks -- months. The cats have been especially affectionate, Joey II particularly, with a loud purr as he settles into my lap. I'm watching "I Am Legend" except for the bad parts when I have to look away, walk away (and now I'm putting it on mute altogether, and the caption says "ominous music playing," a measure of serenity being the goal of the evening.)

And speaking of a return to innocence, earlier today, I actually finished reading a novel, the first one in ages I've had time to read -- Jim Harrison's The English Major. While there's something a bit lightweight in his easygoing prose and ambling narratives, this story about a depressed 60-year-old Michigan guy, a farmer and one-time high school teacher who travels from state to state after his wife dumps him, well, it was just what I was in the mood for. Harrison's vitality and love of life's sensual pleasures -- the good food, the good wine, the de rigueur humorous Harrison sexuality (his guy Cliff clearly is a "butt man" in this novel) -- make for enjoyable reading on a winter Saturday. I think it's interesting his protagonist is essentially a naif, yet manages to eat and drink very well thanks to his gay son, go-getter realtor ex and boozed up physician friend A.D. Yep, this is what every 21st Century English major needs -- lord knows the "free market" ain't coming through. Good Read

After his car dies -- conveniently after he arrives at his son's lavish accommodations -- the boy signs over an SUV, with Onstar and everything, for the rest of the journey. And his ex, who'd left him for Fred, a gold-digger they'd re-met at their high school reunion, eventually sets him up with a property that once belonged to his grandfather. He's a Luddite -- flushing a cell phone down the toilet in one satisfying scene -- and aches for a return to Eden.

And he gets it -- is given it -- not by striving, but by his ex-wife's potty-mouthed pragmatism. Does she still kind of like him, and his Emerson- and Rilke-quoting ways? Once resettled, he goes back to work on his big creative project: renaming the states and the birds of North America. (For the record, Michigan is Potawatomi, California is Chumash, and Ohio is Wyandot. The brown thrush becomes the "beige dolorosa," which I really like, and the robin is renamed "Rubens"). this the Baby Boomer man today -- his "noodle" still frisky and his expectations scaled down to a good dog, a good meal, a twiddly-wink bit of whimsical work, and some lucky tenderness? It's a gentle tale, and it's nice when a story ends with "This won't be a bad life, I thought happily. What there is left of it is undetermined but I'll do fine."

1 comment:

Dr Banilla said...

You re-named your cat "Joey 2?" I LOVE IT! Do you ever watch the simpsons (I don't know how you feel, as an English professor, being compared to the Simpsons, but if you haven't watched it in a while, the humor is actually quite smart)? They have a cat, and every time it dies and they get a new one, they name the new one "snowball #1 (or 2 or 3, etc).