- I finally became finished-finished with my administrative nightmares from the end of the spring semester. That alone would justify a lost week. I am so glad to be done with it all.
- Dived into some research reading Kevin recommended for me regarding the book project. The psychological side of it is interesting enough, but I feel like I'm almost having more of a learning experience in reading things clearly and concisely presented for a popular audience. I've been reading too much Karl Rahner this year, and there's very little that's less user-friendly than German theology, I'm afraid, which is too bad since the man is amazing.
- Last Saturday with Erik, Tiffany and her kids was great fun. We took in the Audubon Aquarium, which is first-rate, and I saw a 3-D IMAX film on coral reefs there which was a new one for me. I had a really pleasant time meeting everyone, enjoying the sort of wide-eyed excitement from the two little ones, Zach and Maddie, who were around Haley and Sophie's ages, and thus pretty familiar in that respect, as well as having some fun conversation with Elise, who was turning eleven and getting into that stage of starting to enjoy more adult conversation. She's a gifted young songwriter, and while we were resting a bit at the hotel before dinner, she sang for me a song that she had not only recently written, but had also performed at her church, as it was written in a contemporary worship style. It was very much in the "delight in God through nature" mode, which is as contemporary as the ecological movement and as classic as the Psalms. And it was good: not good-for-an-eleven-year-old, but just plain good. Getting someone that young to sing for a man she just met could have been a huge difficulty in itself, but while she showed some of the natural shyness you would expect in the situation, she just stepped past it and shared her song with me, which was impressive in itself. So, while classic in its mode, she was creative and even occasionally daring lyrically, and in a clear and pleasant voice, sang a melody that not only was catchy in the way a good song should be, but was contemporary and catchy in a way that would lend itself to lots of different kinds of playing, whether with a solo guitar, keyboards, lots of percussion – whatever. So after she was done, I was able to tell her that I didn't just enjoy it because that was the polite thing to say, but that I had enjoyed it for all the above reasons. She seemed to take that complicated complement as well as I could have hoped for, and continued to talk music with me through dinner.
- I mentioned to Erik while we were talking on the phone that I'd started reading Kevin Coyne's Domers: A Year at Notre Dame, which I had forgotten was from when that writer lived in residence on campus during Erik's freshman year. So I had just been going through the welcoming speech at Erik's orientation when he called. It's been sort of interesting to re-live a bit of this time at Notre Dame, and to so intensely try to revisit that very particular slice of time. I mentioned it to Kevin as well, who had met the writer during his time there, and thought him a good guy. But I still can't help but see all the people, stories and drama that I know of from that time, and that Coyne did not see, and does not report – the stories and lives that to me especially made Notre Dame the great place that it is – and it just reminds me all the more of just how many human stories there are, and how few we see, either through our own involvement in them, or in literature, film, or other media.
So I'm revisiting Notre Dame in thought quite a bit right now, and I'm even toying with rereading my journals of the time, which is not something I've done in any full way. I looked at the campus on Google Earth today and I'm amazed to see how much more has changed than I'd even heard about since my last visit, which was now about five years ago. It made me want to call Kate, and make her look at Google Earth with me and just marvel in a sort of virtual walk around campus. But the Wolf Club Tree is still there, so it's not like everything's different. I've joked for years with Leslie and Jim about getting one of the nieces to defect from going to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, which is basically the family school (I being the only one not to go there), and getting her (or them) to go to Notre Dame instead. Thinking about all this, I can see a little more strongly the attraction of getting family into a "legacy" school in this way: it would be so satisfying to share all the tangibles and the intangibles of Notre Dame with someone in the family, who you could then look in the eye and exchange that sort of look that gives you the satisfaction that someone else that you love gets it.