This morning my wife rose very early to go catch a plane to visit her college roommate in the Virginia suburbs of our nation's capitol. Today is her birthday, and I am really pleased that she is getting to go have a few days off with congenial company.
I, too, sought to rise very early, but sometimes The Sun Also Rises, and it's good to lay abed so as to not interfere with the sun's glory. This is particularly true since yesterday I awoke so far in advance of the sun's rather brilliant appearance as to give it far too much cushion on the "near side" of its debut as to justfy going to the more traditional "far side of morning" for my own personal debut today.
Last night I worked the free legal clinic at the Salvation Army until 9:40 p.m. These sessions, meeting with a half dozen to ten clients a night, always hold my interest. Although we all live, breathe, and bathe in personal folly, rather like that Evelyn Waugh character who lives and breathes sin, I am struck by how often people are in perfectly understandable pickles caused by understandable human asynchronies in relationships and in some instances by inexcusable actions by bureaucracies that should know and act better.
I like it when people who are the least conditioned and least able to rely on the system take the initiative to come and seek help with an issue, rather than trust the shiftless winds or inaction.
I must confess that my media habits are influenced by the perception that I enjoy the new news serials, all entitled some varation of "Clinton or Obama--let's talk about it more", far less than even reality television. As someone who is a paid advocate for clients in the fair courtrooms of our green and verdant land, I should have more fellow-feeling for the flacks, hacks, and all-trades-jacks who populate the talk shows. In fact, though, I find my hand-to-eye-coordination dramatically improving as I master the art of zipping a capable palm onto the channel-changer and dancing my fingers in search of Twilight Zone reruns or public television shows about dinosaurs and stonehenge.
On the other hand, since I switched to radio station WRR-101, the local classical station, I notice that my calm and productivity increase over that which I sustained when I listned to the local NPR news. I'm intrigued by which composers and genres I know well, and with which ones I am less familiar and must learn by listening. I heard some interviews with Van Cliburn last night in which he said some pertinent and poignant things about music. He certainly has the piano chops to be entitled to be pertinent and poignant.
I read an article in a bar magazine in which lawyers who had messed up their careers (and usually their entire lives) were interviewed about coping post-disbarment. The one fellow who traded an alcohol addiction for a gambling addiction and ended up $ 1.6 million dollars in debt to clients really struck me. On the one hand, he has made some significant efforts to make amends, albeit not significant financial efforts. On the other hand, the idea of ending up with one's client's money so that one can "play the tables" is really sad in the way in which one does not mean "sad" but a stronger and more negative adjective. I believe in redemption and doing the best one can even if one has erred. Yet I do take the caution in cautionary tales, even if I drink alcohol only roughly once in a very blue moon and tend to confine my gambling to the nickel slots when I am held over in the Las Vegas airport. I like the slot machine in which the "bonus round" lets one go lobster fishing for nickels. I love winning nickels from cartoon lobster traps.
I was reading the weblog of chess teacher Elizabeth Vicary, whose elementary school children won high places at the national chess tournament for such kids and matters. She reported the curious experience of being attacked on odd pretexts. One teacher was offended by Ms. Vicary's 6th grade students playing in a tournament open to 6th graders. The reason the teacher gave to Ms. Vicary for this novel position is that although the students in question were 6th graders, they should not enter a K-6 tournament because these particular students attend a middle-school open to 5,6,7 and 8th graders. I would say something about how I do not believe that any endeavor in life has more needless drama than organized elementary inter-scholastic competition, except that actually the drama one can find in any day of reading weblog posts eclipses it all darker than any Pink Floyd moon. I am glad that Ms. Vicary's inner-city kids did so well, as I like it when
public schools show that there is more to achievement than high suburban private school tuition. My belief is that more than half of our country's problems would be remedied if the gaps between "have nots" and "haves" were remedied in simple, direct and yet subtle ways.
I am glad the weather appears to be clearing up, as I have a picnic to attend on Saturday. Lately I have rather a fondness for hot dogs, which is good, as picnics are practically canine with them. I plan to spend the rest of my weekend doing some creative writing, some practical laundry and house-cleaning, and perhaps in the rather ambient practice of the cooking of a crockpot of sauerkraut, potatoes, and a protein source.
First, though, I have work to do--and I am thankful I am able to have the chance to do it.