I was absolutely flattened yesterday after babysitting Renee Harris for about 90 minutes. She around that 18-month stage of starting to talk--I was "My" and she was "Nay," I realized--and when Donna and Mike got back from their errand, Donna pegged it exactly by immediately asking if Renee had spent the bulk of the time just climbing on me. I don't think I've done that much continual lifting since I moved, and maybe not then. It's finding myself exhausted by things like that that always bring back memories of being a distance runner in the most humbling way. This is the point of the entry where I ought to make some halfway-sincere pledge to myself to work out more in some way.
One of the cool things of being at school is always the opportunity to meet really compelling people. Last semester's Theology Through the Centuries class that I TAed for Mickey Mattox was the most fun I had had as a TA at Marquette because all these hard-working Honors Program students took advantage of what I could offer more than all the students I had had in the previous three years. A number of the students were folks I really enjoyed talking with--interested in the material, passionate about their own work--and by the end of the semester it was clear that a few of them were folks I could really enjoy being friends with. A few were as blessed with the gift of the gab as I was, so that we had to be careful in making appointments to do work because we had such a hard time not letting talk run away with us. Wednesday after the De Trinitate Seminar, I met Julie Riederer, one of the best of the lot, at Starbucks for a drink and a really cool three-hour conversation of that sort. She's got the same intense gift for Psychology that I'm used to from Kevin Fleming, but has more of a research edge to her that he doesn't have, so I was fascinated to hear about the kind of research into the cognition of misinformation that she was conducting with a professor. That overlapped with the pedagogical monkeywrench that The Da Vinci Code has been for the Theology Department for the last few years because of those exact, careful techniques of using a small, "flagged" piece of authentic information--like the Emperor Constantine being present at the significant Council of Nicaea in 325--and then having gotten the mind to recognize that as accurate, "approved" information, to then load it up with false content. Not that it was all lofty and technical talk, since we also laughed and spontaneously confessed to one another what junk-TV shows we currently found ourselves enslaved to. Julie also does a lot of improv comedy performance on the side, and I always enjoy being around artists who can articulate what they're doing with their work in the way that she does. My friends at Marquette tend not to have that "wing" to their lives that I enjoyed so much at Notre Dame with the strong musical/Catholic overlap in the Freek circle and beyond. It's just another strong reason to enjoy what might become a real friendship: there's only a few undergrads that I've met who have had that kind of potential. In that vein, I'm finally making plans to hang with a guy named Jonathan that I've known casually for awhile who is a member of InterVarsity and is cool and tasteful enough to have loaned me a copy of Alex Ross' and Mark Waid's Kingdom Come when I got to know him a bit last year when he was working at the desk of the Abbottsford Apartments where I lived.
I took a little time out on Tuesday with Bob Foster, who was visiting from Michigan again, studying for his Doctoral Qualifying Exams. This time he didn't stay with me, which was probably wise: I don't think he achieved as much as he wanted to in early December, when he stayed with me for the week. (See "gift of the gab," above.) Sunday night we had dinner at the Harris' downstairs where, with the Harris' conspiring, I showed up with a half-sized box of old comics (holding several dozen) that I said I had picked that I thought Bob "might want to read" while he was here. It wasn't until the end of the night when he started looking through the box (which I had grabbed because it was the closest to the door when I left) that we discovered that he had taken me with perfect seriousness and was checking to see what stories I had picked for his notice (and to destroy his study session), so we had a long laugh at that. Tuesday we went down to Downtown Books, even though I knew that Bob had already blown the allowance his wife Carmen gave him by stopping at Powell's at the University of Chicago on the way around the lake. He limited himself to a few minor biblical pieces. With less professional taste, I picked up a few used JLA trade paperbacks and a clean, good-looking hardcover copy of my favourite Star Trek novel ever, My Enemy, My Ally, by the inestimably-rich sci-fi author Diane Duane, who makes those characters and that world such a fulsome vision of the future that the best of the shows and movies are watery reflections in comparison. While to be honest, I'd probably have to rank the book a tie with her masterful Spock's World with it fictional alien history and anthropology, this novel came first. Curiously, I can still remember seeing it on the wall of Arand's Sporting Goods as a kid as I first picked it up, little knowing what I treat I was giving myself. I think Julie explained that to me, in fact, when we talked about her research in certain types of memory-flagging. So Bob accepted my reasoning as to why a quality-bound hardcover of a novel I already owned (and in fact have replaced, since that beloved original had long since disintegrated under my loving hands, along with those of my brother Joe, and such worthy friends as 2ndtimothy) deserved a spot on my much-taxed shelving space.