've had some fabulous "people-time" over the last several days, but, like the best of such times, I don't know that it easily lends itself to description. Not that it needs
description, other than for perhaps the obscure and arcane purposes of journal-writers. It's been a quiet day, but I've been a bit scattered, so maybe this writing will help me focus. Poor Barnes is pretty sick, and didn't teach his class today, but I went for the session nevertheless (even though I'm basically attending to observe his teaching) so that I could bear witness to Rebecca's first time teaching, ever. (Rebecca is his TA this year.) She did quite well, in fact, although I suspect that an undergraduate course is an easier first-time experience, since you don't have to deal with all the classroom management issues of a high school class, or younger. And this Augustine class is an exceptionally focused, dedicated and pleasant group. But she jumped in and dealt with them and the material at a perfectly "high" level of expectation that made the transition from his work as smooth as could be: it definitely wasn't a wasted day for the students. So that was cool to see. We chatted about it afterward, and my current dissertation stuff, as we walked across campus. T
hursday night with Bob visiting was a virtual riot of conversation at Dan and Amy's. The sound was commented-upon by several people throughout the night, and it's a wonder that the kids fell asleep at all, much less a few adults checking out as the night went on. Bob was on his way through to the Upper Midwest AAR meeting where Dan would be presenting a paper on Saturday, and so the two of them would be driving up to St. Paul, Minnesota on Friday for the first sessions. We hadn't seen Bob in the better part of a year, at least, and so Mike, Donna and I all came over for dinner and then the loud, laughing, rough-and-tumble of conversation that seems to naturally follow Bob, as he is often a more emphatic contrarian than Mike is. I'm not capable of trying to chart the course of the conversation. There was the expected political and economics talk, some discussion of the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica
, for which Bob has been the most distant or even "honourary" part of our viewing circle, and only a little bit of theology "shop" talk. There was some discussion or even protest on his part about my journaling habits, attendant on a long talk about the effects of communications technology on student relationships today, particularly as regards the capacities for depth of friendship, and he insisted upon looking at my account of one his more recent visits
, although he didn't seem to find much objectionable there. His news was more exciting to us: Carmen had completed her residency in Emergency Medicine and was now an Attending Physician, which I think made us all conscious and amazed at the time that had passed by, in the way that one is always amazed at the passing of time; there was also a great deal of kid-talk over his accounts of just how contrarian Logan had become as he was approaching school age, not that it occurred to me at the time to put that in such Bob-like terms. Good times, with all of us conscious of how rare Bob's presence was since he and Carmen had relocated for her work at the University of Michigan hospital. S
aturday night I spent with family, as Mom and Aunt Pat were up visiting Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen. They were spending the day hitting the Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered
exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum
during the day, although I opted out of joining them for the afternoon with that since I had plans to see it the next day with Erynn. I don't have anything against seeing exhibitions more than once – far from it – but I wanted to be able to see it with her with fresh eyes, in the same way that catching a new movie is more of an "event" when you're seeing it for the first time, and how friends can be disappointed to find out that you already have seen it. So I made plans to join them for dinner afterward. They swung by and picked me up on the way home from the Museum, and we spent some time in the living room talking over cheese, with Helen popping in and out of the conversation as she made a large Paella...
Hmm. Paella. [off to eat leftovers Helen sent home with me]
There was a considerable amount of talk of cousins Ben and Becca off on their respective adventures in Spain and in Brazil. There was the especially good news of Becca's having won a fellowship that is allowing her to study this summer a kind of underground printing or press culture that has formed among the poor in Brazil, and which has also resulted in her getting a conference presentation slot back in Madison next year, which is fabulous for a junior. She's down there now for Spring Break more than anything else, and will return – I think they said – for six weeks during the summer. Ben's year in Spain will conclude some time in June, and so I might have a chance to see him this summer, although the rumour is that he may be doing the kind of summer camp work that he did last year for kids with special needs. I fielded a lot of questions about the job hunt this year, and the character of the interviews I've had, and I think a few about the dissertation work, but otherwise kept pretty quiet and just listened more, fencing off a bit of low-key, genial, Irish harrassment here and there. Aunt Pat was very droll and took me by surprise when she responded to some comment I'd made with some line like, "Well, that's
something I can agree with." Nice.