Novak (novak) wrote,

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Personal/Theological Notebook: Moving Mom; Theo Thru the Centuries; Julie & Before Sunrise; at Pat's

Yowch. I have got the most horrible headache, like my skullcap has been lopped off with an axe, and the ache extending down to my teeth. Thus I'm up at 3am, when I have to teach at 11.

I made it home around 11:30pm Monday night after moving my Mom from Verona down to Chicagoland, where she's now just a few miles from Leslie and Jim and the granddaughters. It was an exhausting run of packing, loading, driving the U-Haul and then unloading, which was only to be expected. I then added the adventure of eating something disagreeable after my class on Tuesday which has kept me messed up 'til today, apparently culminating in this headache. If only I could set the headache against the septic disaster of my intestines to see if they could destroy one another's evil....


On the flipside, there was some good family-time to be had in all of this, of course. The nieces were shy at the party on Saturday up in Wisconsin, but more fun while having dinner at there house after unloading Mom's stuff. Sophia has taken to enthusiastic use of her first word – or maybe first two words – which are "Hi!" and "Hey!" both of which are usually accompanied by her face lighting up as she catches your eyes and her waving her hand at you. Fabulously adorable. I wish I had video of it to share here. Grace also dazzled me (not hard, I admit) by having copied out her entire kindergarten homework sheet on the word "for" (including the decorations on the photocopy) so that she could have preschooler sister Haley learn the lesson, too. (Think how long it took you to write a single letter at this age and you'll get how much work she put into it.) When I asked her if she thought maybe someday she'd be a teacher, she lit up and smiled, saying that maybe she would. When I asked her if she knew I was a teacher, she lit up even more, and smiled at me like I couldn't possibly be any cooler, since teaching and school were so clearly the most fun ever. Bliss.

So I'm uploading the entry I made over the weekend, at least, and maybe doing a bit of reading before trying to head back to bed. I've prepped the first book of Augustine's The Confessions for my students tomorrow, and I'm really interested to see if they'll be sold on the text. We're spending the most time on it of anything on the syllabus, reading the nine autobiographical books of the text over the next three weeks/six sessions. It took me a few readings before I really got how magnificent it was, before I found myself reading it with awe at the depth of its honesty, which is so much more profound an interior examination than any of our tell-all, self-parading books today.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

It’s been a busy week. I suppose all weeks are busy weeks, and so that was a stupid sentence to write. Oodles of paperwork for the Department. I spent Friday just doing administrative stuff, and not classroom-admin like grading, but just University forms. Blech.

The new rubric in my “Theology Through The Centuries” course still seems to be providing for a steady stream of conversation with students that is effortless for me: my only task is in managing discussion, really, while having to draw out students on the material has become a thing of the past. The core questions that they know they have to bring to the texts are more than sufficient to keep the class busy for the 75 minutes of our session. Reading Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word with the students has been really instructive for me, too. I don’t think I’ve read it since Notre Dame days – reading it brings a vision of sitting in a booth at the LaFortune Student Center saying “Oh, wow…” to myself as I read it – and I’ve come a long way since then theologically. When I have the text in front of me, I’ll have to try to set some of that down in print: I’m toting around Basil of Caesarea’s On the Holy Spirit right now in preparation for next week.

On Wednesday Julie and I finally watched Before Sunrise together after I had introduced her to the Irish fare at Brocach’s Pub. I had been wanting to show it to here since before last Christmas – thirteen months ago (and took the opportunity to razz her about how long it's taken). There was something about the combination of it and Before Sunset that really began to appeal to me then, moreso than when I had first seen them. The obvious appeal of the romantic story aside, there was also something Richard Linklater had achieved in the telling of this tale that captured something elemental – something about the occasionally deep human drama of just meeting another person. I also think that the combination of the two films reveals a unity of vision and execution in writing, directing and acting that brings out the contrasts of the characters from 1994 to 2003 in such a way that manages to be emblematic of these times without trying to carry the burden of being “the voice of their generation” or some such nonsense. The characters are real: interesting, limited, flawed, and beautiful in a way that I am forced to recognize in the people around me, captured in that kind of moment we may or may not recognize at the moment is one of the most significant of our lives. So I was delighted to finally share the film with Jules, too, and talk about these sorts of things with her. She paid me back after a few hours of conversation with a now very late-night viewing of the pilot for 1999’s Freaks and Geeks. I had heard of the series when it came out, was intrigued at a period piece that touched on my own childhood, but had no idea both how highly-regarded it was nor how brief it had been. So maybe some more on that later on. I borrowed the DVD set from her.

Been out in Verona and Madison all weekend, both celebrating my Mom’s retirement at a dual party for her and for my Aunt Pat’s 70th birthday, and then helping her finish her packing up for her move Monday. She had some really good years in that apartment, and while I love the fact that she’s going to be near Leslie and Jim and the girls, I’m going to miss going to Verona on holidays, and being easily near my cousins in Madison. We're spending this last night at Pat's, actually, since everything is packed up at Mom's now, including Mom's bed and Pat's old air mattress that I tried to use last night, but which deflated every two hours. Pat made a glorious feast for us this evening after a long day's work – roast pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, applesause, and thick wonderful bread. Now it's just been a quiet evening with my Mom and my aunt, but a fitting way to close this period.
Tags: augustine, books, class-theology through the centuries, family, food, friends-marquette era, grace, movie review, personal, sophia, teaching, theological notebook

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