I stayed up too late last night reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. I do not know if that was related to the very strange dream down below the fold.
Strange dream this morning.
Dragon plants, in large pots. They are a fashionable thing, but people are not sure what to do with them
Woman has idea, thinks what the heck.
Takes big knife, cuts down the leafy fronds on the dragon plant.
Digs down, finds something that looks like a belgian endive the size of her arm - almost like a uterus with the roots of a bulb.
Cuts it lengthwise, replants half in the pot. Holds the other half and looks at it.
Cut - not sure how the transition worked.
Go from third person to first person perspective.
She now has a vast and translucent dragon behind, above, and about her. The head above her frame of vision, wings in the corners of her eyes, and a strange ethereal voice in the back of her head. She can talk to the dragon - can anyone else see it? Who knows.
Some discussion between her and the dragon about their new symbiosis. I forget the details.
Turning on a bank of computer monitors, seeing some other dragon symbionts.
She asks why there are not more of them. Dragon answers that not everyone can make the connection / there are only a few true dragons. The answer may have been hiding something.
Notice a man with a dragon symbiont overlapping and expanding from his body. He is climbing. Woman and her dragon gossip about it, dragon complains that he is using that dragon up just as he uses his own body up,. Treating it like a third lung, drawing on its sustenance, not caring that he is destroying another sentient being. (Hints of the evil symbionts in the second fitzchivalry farseer trilogy.)
Later she goes and digs in the pot again. Finds the plant core. Below the plant core are two masses of strings and roots. Below those is a marble orb, about the size of two hands in a double fist. The dragon asks her not to touch it, "that is my soul." The stringy masses, they are part of me. If you were to break them I would be diminished. But I would grow back.
She replants them all in the dirt.
There is a story here, possibly having to do with the relationship between the lead character and the climbing man who uses up himself in pursuit of his goal, possibly having to do with the small number of symbiotic dragons.
I expect to have more dreams in this world. When I get a good dream, I get a good dream.
I don't really mind fighting off a cold, so long as it is mild enough that cold pills and the prescription nose spray can handle most of the daytime symptoms.
I don't mind rattling a little and not getting to sleep until after 10:00 last night.
I don't mind waking at 2:30am to listen to the littler man stir, and then to listen to him as he put himself back to sleep.
I did not even mind giving the littler man a bottle and a jar of carrots between 3:30 and 4:00am, after all, I had never gotten back to sleep after the 2:30 waking.
I rather enjoyed spending the morning reading microfilm. I have take this perverse pleasure in reading microfilm, even though it leaves me a little dizzy and a little goofier than usual.
I don't mind being so wired from coffee and cold pills that I could not nap this afternoon.
The combination, ah, now that is pretty darn impressive.
Right now I have just enough energy to transfer student grades from their homework to my spreadsheet, and even that goes slowly.
Oh, bonus points for anyone who can name the book that I stole the post title from.
I got two hours of sleep Monday night. Tuesday's class was goofy.
At various points during the French Revolution I referred both to Casablanca and Johnny Cash. The first was trying to remind them that the Marseillaise is the French National Anthem. The second was in reference to the politics of right and left.
Four out of seventy admitted to having ever seen Casablanca, none admitted to Johnny Cash. I might just bring the lyrics to "The One on the Right, Was On the Left" with me tomorrow.
Lyrics below the fold.
Oh, I got about six hours of sleep last night, from 9:30 to about 4:00 when the toddler got me up. No wonder I am being easily distractible today.
EDIT - I just printed out the English lyrics to the Marseillaise for the kids tomorrow. I knew they were bloody, but my goodness!
"The One On The Right Is On The Left"
There once was a musical troupe
A pickin' singin' folk group
They sang the mountain ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They were long on musical ability
Folks thought they would go far
But political incompatibility led to their downfall
Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear was a Methodist
This musical aggregation toured the entire nation
Singing the traditional ballads
And the folk songs of our land
They performed with great virtuosity
And soon they were the rage
But political animosity prevailed upon the stage
Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear burned his driver's license
Well the curtain had ascended
A hush fell on the crowd
As thousands there were gathered to hear The folk songs of our land
But they took their politics seriously
And that night at the concert hall
As the audience watched deliriously
They had a free-for-all
Well, the one on the right was on the bottom
And the one in the middle was on the top
And the one on the left got a broken arm
And the guy in the rear, said, "Oh dear"
Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
Don't go mixin' politics with the folk songs of our land
Just work on harmony and diction
Play your banjo well
And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself
Now, the one on the left works in a bank
And the one in the middle drives a truck
The one on the right's an all-night deejay
And the guy in the rear got drafted
Cranky Ted again.
Why? Well the littler man wakes up - last night he was hungry at 10:00 and then had a burp at 11:30. This was not a big problem -gave him a bottle from 10:00 to 11:00, burped him at 11:30, and he went right back to bed. He is getting much better at learning to go to sleep without being held.
The problem is the Ted. I could not get back to sleep until 2:00 in the bloody morning. This is not the first time that a simple late night baby (I was in bed by 9:00!) has left me rattling for hours and hours.
I wonder if it is the Niaspan? I raised the dose recently and my sleep has gotten even worse since then. I am contemplating going off it entirely until I finish writing, for if I don't I will never be awake enough to write anything.
I think Ted gets to talk with the doctor next week.
I have been doing a lot of Babylonian Sleep Therapy this week.
The littler man has been having trouble sleeping on the nights before teaching - so my students must think I am even more scatter-brained and goofy than I really am, and that is saying a lot. Let me explain.
The littler man has been having trouble falling asleep. His big brother had similar problems at about the same age. What we did with big brother is: stop rocking him to sleep, shift to shaking his crib instead, sing a bit, and let him go a little longer each time before intervening. It worked, the larger man now pretty much puts himself to bed (although is is also TWO, with all the associated tantrums.)
Alas, the larger man gets very cranky when woken up, and screaming brothers tend to produce stereo screaming boys - a bad thing. So, we have been very cautious about letting one boy be in a position where his crying might wake the other. Unfortunately, this has meant that we are behind the curve at teaching the littler man to go to sleep on his own.
So, we are accomodating and adjusting - doing less walking with him, trying harder to cut out his 4:00am feeding, and giving him more time in the crib before we pick him up. Still, he is teething and dealing with a nasty diaper rash on his neck (chubster is a no-neck monster with damp crevices in the folds of his neck.) This means that the littler man has good reason to not sleep, and should be held.
Anyhow, I got him down for nap yesterday with Babylonian Sleep Therapy (he had actually put himself to sleep at 11:45, but when big brother threw a hissy fit at 12:15 on his way to nap, well, it woke the littler man and I had screaming baby stereo. It happens. Larger man went to bed, littler man got babylonian sleep therapy until 1:15, and big brother woke at 1:30. I got no writing done during yesterday's nap.
Last night, littler man had trouble sleeping. I was up till 3:00 doing off-and-on Babylon Sleep Therapy, then tagged J. Between 10:00pm and 3:15 am we watched about 2 hours of a movie, which meant that I got about 3 hours of writing in and around the crankster.
Oh, but what IS Babylonian Sleep Therapy?
It is popping a tape into the VCR, sitting down in the rocking chair with squirm, and rocking until he falls asleep. I am currently working through my VCR tapes of Season 1 of Babylon 5, so I call it Bablylonian Sleep Therapy even if J is using the vcr to tape something that night and I end up watching a movie on DVD.
p.s. Disney's Miracle is a surprisingly good movie. Disney does well with compelling G-rated sports movies.
Feh, two nights in a row of crappy sleep.
Last night I slept 3:00 to 3:30 and 4:30 to about 6:30.
The night before I slept about 4:00 to about 9:00.
Both nights I was grading and feeling a little stressed, and every time I was about ready to go to bed, I would feel stressed and get another bust of nervous energy.
I graded very slowly, but I did get through a fair number of papers. I will have to review them to see if my comments made any sense at all.
I miss my sleep.
Yiddish with Dick and Jane - highly amusing bit of flash advertising the book of the same name.
And yes, I am blogging at 3:00am. This is what happens when you go to bed at midnight, the toddler decides to scream for an hour and a half and wake the infant, the infant decides to play for an hour before falling asleep, and the niaspan keeps you awake because you were not asleep before the pill dissolved.
I have not gotten much work done this week. I blame poor sleep and rainy weather, but it is getting frustrating. Part of the slow pace is because I am wrestling with something that I am not quite sure what it is doing in the current draft. I am very unlike, say, Heather Corinna who has been cranking out 20 to 50 pages a day for months (you GO girl!).
Basically, the section discusses civil religion in the context of social control - people are less likely to do wrong in situations where they have sworn not to do that wrong. In other words, oaths of office or oaths to tell the truth in a court of law are enforced by two means, one secular and the other eternal. In this world, we can require officials to post bonds for the performance of their office, or prosecute them for misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance, or impeach them from office. In this world we can prosecute someone for felony perjury for telling a lie under oath. But, say the folks who like civil religion, those penalties are not sufficient. People will only do the right thing and tell the truth if they believe that there will be eternal consequences for their actions here on earth, and if they swear a specific oath reminding themselves of what those consequences are.
I want to use oaths of office and oaths in court as a tie between the religious settlement - religion in the form of laws and constitutions - and civil religion as practiced every day. I am just having trouble phrasing the connection.
My common fault when I am not quite sure what to say is to say something that is almost right, then say something else almost right, and again, and again - like firing a birdshot at a hard target in the hope of getting at least one pellet where it needs to go.
And, of course, I have been sleeping poorly so I am having trouble parsing my stuff to figure out what I need to say, what is bloated verbiage, and what is a nice idea but not needed for the argument.
And back to work. With any luck this little think piece will get me over this stupid block. Otherwise, I cut the entire four page section and keep going without it.
I did not sleep well last night. I got it from both ends.
I was tired around 10:00, but not sleepy. Then, a little later, I got the pre-palpitation feeling that means that I will have trouble getting my heart steady enough to sleep. Perhaps I could have fallen asleep, perhaps not. Instead of trying I let myself rattle until almost 2:00am. I then woke at 4:00 to pee, flushed, and this disturbed the toddler.
The toddler was up and down from 4:30 onward. Luckily J's alarm is at 5:30am and she took him for half an hour letting me get some more nap.
Needless to say, I am a bit out of it today - and we are going out tonight so I will have to be coherent to sit through a festival of choirs. I do think I get a nap.
Meanwhile, I am struggling to sharpen my discussion of anti-Catholicism in the 1830s and 1840s. I set things up with Lyman Beecher, who accuses the entire RC church of engaging in the sort of political dictation that four bishops did to selected Democratic politicians last week. I then move on to discuss Bishop Hughes and Protestant-Catholic spats in the 1840s.
My problem comes because while LB was one of the guys who kicked off the 1830s and 1840s wave of anti-Catholicism, he did so while using mainstream rhetoric. In contrast, James Breckenridge argued that the RC church was always and everywhere destructive of civil liberty, Mariah Monk was making up sex scandals about a Montreal convent, and the hard-core anti-Catholics were quoting Revelations and applying it to Rome.
So, is Beecher a hard-core anti-Catholic or is there a meaningful difference between the folks who say nasty things in nice language and the folks who say nasty things in nasty language? I recall that the Civil Rights movement decided that while there was little moral difference between the folks who used hate speech to terrorize "niggers" and the folks who used patronizing speech to devalue "nigrahs", the latter could be embarrassed into changing their public positions and therefore there was a meaningful tactical difference that the movement could exploit.
In any case, I think I can turn the two paragraphs on Bibles in the schools into two sentences. And that might help me make my point forcefully enough.
It is hard to write with a head full of moss.
The toddler was up and screaming at 4:00 this morning.
This would not have been such a bad thing, except that I had been rattling around until about 1:00 am, tired but unable to sleep.
It was the first rattle I have had in weeks. This one, I think, had three causes. I had gone to a town council meeting from 4:30 until about 7:00 because they were discussing a development plan for our neighborhood that was well conceived, badly drawn, and poorly explained to the residents. I brought a letter for the council, stood up and spoke, chatted with some new friends, and headed home. I do need to get more involved with the town - I will join the town improvement club, help out at the spring plantings, and help organize a block association. That got me a mite excited.
I then had a late dinner, eating around 9:00, for after I got home I had to help put the kids to bed, walk the hound, decide what leftovers appealed, and then chow down.
Finally, I had a little gastric distress - the chile burritos combined with the second pot of coffee during the early afternoon left me with some heartburn and discomfort. I am not sure if the coffee was more disruptive from the caffeine or from the acidity. In either case, I am partway through this morning's pot as I write this.
So, I am very glad indeed that I was able to convince J to take the screaming toddler from 4:00 until 6:00. At 6:00, which is the middle of his usual wakening window, she handed toddler over to me and went back to bed herself. She is still asleep and appears to be down for the morning.
Kids are exhausting, but they are also good fun.
Oh, and the infant was a hit at the town council meeting - I was babysitting while J had a work meeting up in Trenton so infant and I went to participate in local government. The mayor talked a lot about encouraging families with young children to move to our neighborhood by declaring the residential sections part of a development zone; I stood up with the infant in my arms and pointed out that we like the idea of development but insist that the neighbors get site plan review.
Either he had bold plans that he backed off from, or, more likely, they really did mean the large development zone as a blunt tool to perform minor improvements and did not stop to think about how people who were not at the planning meetings would interpret the language of the proposed statute.
Looks like I get to go to planning board meetings in my copious free time.
Last night I watched the DVD of Whale Rider and read Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Both are powerful. Both are about lost generations, one told in terms of magic and hope, the other in reality and despair. Not surprisingly, I could not sleep last night.
What kept me up was thinking about the Great War and about the paper topic I am giving the kids. They have a paper due on Remarque in a couple of weeks and I need to give them the detailed paper topic. My preliminary thought was to ask them
Compare and contrast Germany before and after the Great War, use Remarque for examples. Show how the war changed the people and their society.but after re-reading Remarque I am not sure that they will be able to write that paper, or at least write it well. Remarque focuses on his themes of the lost generation, the futility of warfare between nation states, and man's inhumanity to man; he only discusses the change between pre-war and postwar understandings within the context of Paul Baumer and the other members of the lost generation of schoolboys.
I thought about adding a little poetry to their assignment, to give them a better picture of the world before the war, and I discovered that I had been thinking about the optimistic side of the Belle Epoch while most of the avante garde, realist, and neonaturalist authors of the era, especially in Germany, had been pessimistic about the merits of industrialization and the new society. I had been thinking about Kipling's "Take up the White Man's Burden" and Teddy Roosevelt's popular persona, while they were closer to Edward Munch's painting The Scream or Nietzsche's nihilistic optimism as he declared that God was dead and that this was a good thing.
I dug around a little and rediscovered the Bartleby Project at Columbia University - the best argument I have seen in a long time for ending or limiting the current practice of long copyright laws. One of the things that they have scanned and archived there is a set of early twentieth century Norton Anthologies of Poetry. So I was able to check a 1920 book on the new poets and compare it to a 1917 book of mostly optimistic war poetry. I found a couple of good thoughts there, and on some of the very good online resources on the Great War.
My current thought is to give them four poems to supplement the novel:
and then ask them what it means to be a lost generation? Or, perhaps, how did the war affect the generation who went to war..
That might be forced, but I like the parallels in the two poems about mortality and poppies and the two very different takes on the lines from Horace. I do not know if the difference between the first two and the second two is one of generation or one of experiences; I suspect both. Neither is a great question
I will not use fiction, although I was tempted to compare Kipling's meditation on the loss of his own son, Kipling, The Gardener, with Owen Machen The Bowmen, a story that millions of English believed was true because they wanted something like it to be true. The problem is that most of the readily available short fiction is mourning fiction or is self-conscious writing wrestling with the problem of the lost generation. I thought about using Hemingway's In Our Time and I do assign bits of that to the US History courses, much of my take on the social impact of the Great War is influenced by Hemingway's painful set of wonderfully crafted short stories, but that is what we have Remarque for and we don't need to read two things that cover the same ground.
I keep coming back to Kipling, perhaps it is the attraction that I have for a poet who focuses on making sense of his era. I could probably have saved the kids a lot of reading if I had just assigned The Widow's Party and White Man's Burden to set the scene and then The Gardener and to close it off London Stone.
And so to have some breakfast and think on this some more.
I had swing shift on the infant last night, and he was screaming and colicy until after 1:00 am. The toddler was up at 6:15, and I caught that one as well. It has been a tired and sleepy day, made worse because it was snowing this morning and is raining now.
So, I fell over after lunch and took a nap. As I slowly woke - would rather still be asleep as I write this - I could hear J's TV from downstairs where she was giving the infant a snack.
She watches a lot of "true life" medical shows. She watches a lot of Food TV, especially Molto Mario. As the noise from below filtered up into my head my brain stopped knitting the unraveled sleeve of my dream and started to mazily figure out what was going on.
As near as I can tell, she is currently watching Hannibal Lector's Roadkill Cafe. I do not know if I dare go down and see what is really going on.
Late to Bed and Early to Rise makes Ted a sleepy ineffective boy.
The infant has been keeping us up late, and I have been winning the 11:00-2:00 shift. He often gets to sleep around midnight, but not always, and so I get to see the neighborhood go to sleep around me. When I take the hound out for her last pee break all is dark and quiet around me.
The toddler was good this morning, sleeping in until 7:00. The two previous mornings he was up around 5:00. When he wakes around 5:00 we will often go out and see if the newspaper has arrived yet and enjoy those quiet still pre-dawn hours. On Wednesday and Thursday the neighborhood was asleep, the houses dark, and only a faint whisper of noise from the Pike a few blocks away told us that some folks were up and stirring. Today the sun was up over the trees and the school busses were running when we finally went out to fetch the paper and hang the flags.
Still, I needed my mid-morning nap and still I was ineffective for the first half of the day. Four hours of sleep and a 40 minute nap is not enough.
But now I have had my nap, I have had my lunch, J has returned with two new pounds of coffee (Columbian high-test and Columbian decaff) and I might possibly get some writing done. This blog entry is to prime the pump and get me going.
I just hope the coffee does not keep me up too late tonight.
I rattled last night - perhaps too much tea at dinner, but I fear some desire to sabatoge my next day's work. I don't know. I do know that I was up till after 1:30am, and that the baby woke hungry at around 5:00. J got him before I was able to awake enough to volunteer, and then at 6:00 the baby went back to sleep and the rest of us started our day.
So, as I write this, the little man is still sacked out in the next room and the dawg is LOOKING at me with her legs crossed.
I have a day of errands, and phone calls, and finishing legal briefs and taking notes on them so I can put them into a coherent sub-essay on Christianity and the Common Law. I don't know why I had the urge to type up excerpts from them last night, I think I was simply amused by the different rhetorical rhythms - something I should be used to by now.
At least I got a first draft of Monday's class done this morning before coffee.
Not because I had been drinking, I have not had a drink in over a dozen years, but because I had experienced the joys of overnight flu.
Headache, dehydration, tired, queasy stomach, run-down, hung-down, and drung-down feeling - that is a hangover, yep.
Only I had mine without the bother of getting drunk first.
I spent much of this last week going to bed at midnight or 1:00 am and being woken up between 5:00 and 6:00. The last two nights I got to bed at a reasonable hour, 10:00pm. While yesterday I wanted to sleep in, this morning I am up. Might as well write.
Perhaps there was something to Franklin's aphorism, although he certainly preferred not to live by it.
I was rattling a little last night but still got to sleep at midnight. The little man woke at 5:00. J volunteered to take him, fed him, then she started her day while I babysat. Little man went back to sleep and is off to daycare in his pajamas. Why am I sharing this with you?
The mushroom harvest is complete.
And so to have a day.
Well, it is morning and I am tired. I did not sleep well over the weekend - I kept starting for bed around 10:00, getting distracted until about midnight, and then rattling until 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning.
The little man is now waking up at 5:30am pretty reliably. 'Nuff said.
I did not get a lot of writing done over the weekend, but I did get some cookery done and that makes up for part of it - all work and no food makes Ted a cranky boy. (The marinara sauce for the pizza was not so good, the roast butterflied chicken with drippings gravy was very nice indeed.)
And so to take a printout of the current section, and a yellow pad full of reading notes, and find a nice quiet place to sit down and think. I might stay away from the distracting internet all day, and I might come back and write something - anything - just to get the writing juices flowing.
And so to scribble
That sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it.
You see, I am fairly distractable, especially when I am tired. I had headed upstairs around 11:00 intending to check my email, blog if I felt like it, and then go to bed. There was no interesting email, I did not have anything to blog, but I clicked on something while applying antifungal slime to my toes, and then on another, and then on another. Two hours later I had halfway changed into my pajamas, but I had forgotten to go to sleep.
This is a bad habit of mine - it is related to but not the same thing as my fear of not being able to sleep. I have taught myself to rattle around at night, not productive but not going to sleep. I will be making my New Year resolutions over the next few days, and one of them will be to be better about going to bed when I am tired and sleepy.
The only good part to forgetting to sleep is that it makes the coffee taste better when I do get up in the morning.
Well, after writing that crank below I tried to go to bed, could not sleep, came up and wrote myself out agonizing over whether I should drop the whole thing and go get a straight job. I finally got to bed between 2:30 and 3:00 am. The baby woke at 6:00, but J took him and let me sleep in. Love that woman.
I am sticking it out for now, but I am also wrestling with a combination of mad, frustrated, and angry.
My current thought is that I did a piss-poor job of framing four. If I can revise my story, the ending is still strong. If I have a better story, it will be easier to write something that is not codswallop.
As I look over the other chapters, I am pretty good at telling a simple story. I am pretty good at the (easy) process of spotting something important. I am not so good at explaining why that something actually matters. I am, based on my record, piss-poor at framing a broad sweeping argument. I am also apparantly piss-poor at figuring out if my own words are any good. I knew that the argument in four was weak but I had thought the weak point was around page thirty, and not the first five pages.
Writing is hard.
It appears to be another insomnia week. Last night I became unproductive around midnight, was not sleepy, and poked about until 2:30 or so. This was the third night this week I was up after 2:00. And, like every other night this week, it took me a while to get to sleep after I went to bed.
The alarm went off at 6:00. I was first out of bed and turned it off, not to snooze. J hates it when I do that, but having been woken to her snooze alarm while she is in the shower for so many times, well, the little people(1) just turn the alarm off. But, it was a null problem - the baby woke to J's alarm and then everyone was up.
I hope I get through class today.
On the bright side, I did some useful work on the essay portion of my job interview for next week - they send the questions in advance and I get to prepare my answers. The more I look at this west coast job, the better it looks. I made it from the 100 or so to the dozen or so - now I have to make the cut of three and come visit them.
But first, I will have to teach Reconstruction.
And so to finish class prep - I just wanted to whine about my sleep.
(1) As in "The little people made me do it ... it was force of Hobbit."