So by Saturday night I had felt pretty wiped out by the time made it to dinner, about an hour or an hour-and-a-half after the two-and-a-half hour-long Ecclesiological Investigations session had concluded. But it turned out that a tummy-full of chicken fried steak and all the fixings were giving me new rush of energy rather than sending me into a food coma. So I tagged up with Mari instead of collapsing, as I had warned her might be the case. She insisted that I check out the 65th-floor view from her room at the Weston, which turned out to be near the top of the tallest hotel in the Western hemisphere. Who knew? Her room did have an outrageous view, though, since its entire outer wall was a window -- a curving piece of glass that overlooked all the high-rise hotels where the American Academy of Religion national conference was actually being held. After checking that out and paying proper homage to her great luck of the draw in getting that room (we both had gone the less expensive but more random route of getting our rooms via Hotwire), we then worked our way on up to the Sun Dial, the restaurant on the 73rd floor at top of the hotel, and settling into seats in the lounge above the restaurant, which had the virtue of slowly rotating and giving us the complete panoramic view of downtown and greater Atlanta. So we tucked into drinks and dessert, talking a bit about the conference, a bit about the Dali exhibition that I'd taken in that afternoon and which she would see the following day, and about the things we have been enjoying about Loyola thus far. The view continued to rotate around us as we talked, until Mari began to crash, her own lack of sleep from the day before beginning to catch up to her.
After my classes finished up on Wednesday with my last session of "Jesus Christ," I was approached by Haley, one of my best students, who also happens to be a major in the Religious Studies department. She wanted to talk about graduate school programs and paths, and how to start directing the remainder of her studies toward the eventual goal of a doctorate in Theology of one form or another. So she tagged along with me while I walked up to my office to grab my things, and then, since the conversation was running longer (there was a lot to talk about), we sat down on the steps of the soon-to-be-renovated Old Library, facing the Academic Quad, and enjoyed the warm air as the sun set. I ran through some of my experiences, what I knew of various programs, and teased out of her the different pathways that might play out of her particular interests in Theology as well as possible alternative routes incorporating her other major in Southern Studies, which she is also considering taking a Master's degree in. Mostly, it was just fun to see someone marshaling all their resources to this sort of goal, and being so pro-active in considering what might be the best way of organizing her studies toward this end, as I think she's still only a sophomore. After nearly an hour-and-a-half of talk on the subject, we called it quits for the night, but she paid me the complement of saying something like, "Dr. Novak, you still can talk to us like you're another one of us students!" I hadn't really thought I was speaking in such a way, myself, given all the years of experiences I was drawing upon in talking about the grad school and teaching processes, but it was kindly meant.
Today was going to be all about laundry and banking. The banking got done, but as Thursday is a day free of classes, it just let me indulge in continuing to tear through my copy of Towers of Midnight, the new volume of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, that was released on Tuesday. Late Tuesday night (or rather early Wednesday morning), I'd gotten a note from Kate up in Victoria, British Columbia, gleefully just commenting on the fact that she knew that I was up, too, reading through it as eagerly as I could. So I never got to the laundry today, but I couldn't help but notice just how much I could glow, Wednesday night after I got home, and throughout today, knowing the pleasures of a quiet house, uninterrupted time, and a fantastic book.