Sunday, February 05, 2006

Christmas and a January

number 2006/1

We both got to go home for the holidays, only we mostly went to different places. I decided I would stick around in Greensboro for six weeks because it had been eight months since I’d last been there. 1,440 words

[NL]—There was a little while where, being on a rather lower rung of the departmental ladder, Sunshine and I were concerned that we might not be able to spend this Christmas in the US with our families like we normally do. Or more specifically: Sunshine might not, and I might have to go home and leave her here alone. There are apparently many people willing to cover the work during the relatively quieter time around the holidays, however, and this did not turn out to be the case. So around November we became certain that we would be able to come home at the end of December. Various itineraries and schedules were bandied about, and we eventually settled on the following: Sunshine was going to visit the family farm for a week over the Christmas holidays, and I was gong to head back to my North Carolina home at the same time; but stay there until after the New Year’s celebration at Café Europa, with its oyster shots and champagne. Then, with an eye toward giving Sunshine some room to work on the book that is to be the culmination of her 2001 Fulbright scholarship to Venezuela, I would go ahead and stay in the US for the rest of the month of January. Sunshine decided that she really needed to come to the Café Europa party also, even though there were days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve that she would have to be back in Monterrey. We bought three round trip tickets, and the deal was done.

I was really excited about all of this. Sunshine had gotten to visit her Kentucky farm back in August for her birthday, but I had not seen the family and friends since the night I had hit the road for the border. That had been April. I was really missing all the people, the restaurants and shops, and other things about Greensboro. Honestly, I was really looking forward to maybe seeing a little winter, a little snow, while I was there.

It is not normal for me to break the fourth wall in this blog. My style book indicates that I should very infrequently write in the second person, rarely relate interpersonal content that would fit better into actual correspondence, and never reference the context of this journal itself, like I am doing now. One of the reasons for this is to format this journal more simply as a string of personal essays, not a direct communication, in the hopes that the things that I am doing are worth recording as much as they are worth communicating. This decision is in a way a nod to this being a public diary, where my improbable readership may contain both people who know me very well, and people who stumble here accidentally. This presents problems at times, when I am trying to decide how to address certain issues. In this case, the majority of my supposed audience was seeing me on a day-to-day basis while I was in Greensboro, NC for six weeks; those people know full well what it was that I did there. But there are other people who live in far-flung corners of this hemisphere without that first-hand knowledge, but with less than passing interest in this personal topic. Today’s blithe abandonment of this blog’s normal MO is inspired by this ambivalence. The people who care about this subject already know about it, those who don’t can’t be expected to care. Honestly, the facts below the fold are presented only to mark the occasion of this time in my life for completeness’ sake.

Christmas was nice, and though the yearly struggle to get back and forth to so many places has been intensified now with the addition of international travel, it is really nice to have some tradition to fall back on in the midst of all this newness. I packed numerous highly breakable Mexican ceramics in carryon baggage, through security checks and customs lines, without breaking one thing. Presents I received I shipped home. Later, Sunshine imported even more breakables for her visit on New Year’s Eve. Speaking of New Year’s Eve, it was a blast. The party at Café Europa gets better and better every year, and many of my friends we there.

During my time in Greensboro, I satisfied many desires I had accrued while away: I ate Indian food, seven or eight times, in three different restaurants. I enjoyed leisurely daily stops in local coffee shops and bars. I indulged, far to often for the comfort of my budget, in that traditional Tate Street-type Sushi 101 that I so missed in México (but was sadly unable to ever manage to eat the more traditional Japanese-type sushi of Arrigato or Asahi or Kuki, in Raleigh). I got to eat Korean once, Thai a couple of times, and deli food almost every day. I browsed new and used bookstores for hours on end. I bought several used books in English and many new DVDs in a number of languages. Mostly, though, I hung out with friends, staying up very late at night, sometimes. Sometimes getting drunk. The only thing about the trip that was less than marvelous for me was the weather: a Spring-like sunny temperance prevailed, with temperatures in the upper fifties or lower sixties most of the time I was home. It never did snow, though this balmy January was occasionally punctuated with sudden rains that heralded a short-lived dip in the temperature. I will have to wait for another year to enjoy some longed-for wintertime.

Early in the trip I became lass sure of my extensive schedule. I was concerned that I might become overbearing to the people I had thrust myself upon. Few had even been aware that I was coming to visit, and even less were aware of the sheer length of my home stay. I was worried that there was going to be no way for me to fill the time, that people who have to work sixty percent of the week were going to be frustrated by the prospect of entertaining me in the interstices. Honestly, I was worried that the world had moved along without me, and I was just putting people out by showing up on Greensboro’s doorstep unannounced, begging attention like distracting novelty. At the worst of my doubt, I felt like I was a prank I was playing on everyone.

It is a strange little trick that time plays when someone is away, though, and I forget every time I come back home. For those in Greensboro, the eight months I was away didn’t seem like such a long time as it did to me, stewing out here in all that aforementioned newness. I arrived in North Carolina on December the 22nd and didn’t leave again until February 3rd, and during that time I was made to feel welcome in every case. I was never lonely or bored, I got to spend time with most everyone, over and over again, and I had a specifically wonderful time on every single day I was there.

I mentioned completism above as the reason for writing this dry, fact-based entry; but that is not the only reason. I had a wonderful and comfortable stay, and feel this necessitates my breaking that last rule I usually keep when blogging. Thank you Ian and Phil and Heat and Ellie and Dan and Piper and Jeff and most especially Chris and Mark and Hannah and mom and Anne for opening your houses to me because I needed it and also because I just really wanted to be there with you. Thank you Anne, again, and Jenn. for allowing me the use of your cars while I was bopping around town; in addition thank you James and Greg and Flora and Mr. Beaver and John and Cynthia and Alice and Mary and Sarah and Lucy and another James and Jason and Leslie and Andrew and Blake and Meredith and Myra and the other Blake and Toune and Alex and Lisa and Jae and Jeana and Nina and Brian and Alan and Shake and Nix and Jakob and Tim and another Chris and Steve and Frank and Rachel and Rob and Erin and Matt and the Buckner and Tom and another Tom and Jerry and Joe and Julia and Bill and Melinda and Joshua and Maggie and Sandy and Chronis and that belly dancer and Scott and another John and even, by god, Lilly, for hours or minutes of great times and companionship and conversations while I was cast adrift at home. --Jeremy Cavin

Happy New Year 2006 photo © Chris Young

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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