I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again, but this time in brief: I love me some pomp and circumstance. I got on my bike this morning, swapped the SPDs for some wedge heels, and went to Dixon Hall to sit in the balcony and whoooooo for my dear friend R., who picked up a Master of the Arts in Latin American Studies today. It was awesome. And then there was food and champagne, and then a lunch and another ceremony, and hugs and pictures and more of those “chicken” “quesadillas” and another fruit tree, followed by dinner with M. and her positively lovely family (Dad loves national parks! and history!), and then I rode my bike home in the dark, full up on good feelings. Congratulations, graduates!
I’ve been a little down lately, I’m not going to lie. Too many endings all at once have me in a little bit of a spin, so I figured the best thing to do today is what I usually do, because usually, I feel pretty good. I woke up after a full 8 hours of sleep, read a bit of a book I need to review, wrote 300 words (gotta ease back into summer productivity), and then it was time for a bicycle ride without a particular destination. Continue reading
I hopped on my bike this evening and headed to campus for tonight’s Oak Wreath dinner, thrown by the Newcomb College Institute in honor of outstanding graduating female students. My dear student M. invited me as her guest, and I was more than happy to attend. Each of the 20 or so students took turns talking about their professor-date, and then each professor talked about the brilliant and sassy student who invited them. I talked about reading M.’s final paper from our class on feminist activism–it was so smart, creative, and brave, it made me cry, and talking about it got me all choked up. (I appear to be a crybaby, at least lately.) And the same thing happened over and over again, and there are so many more stories of teachers and students at all levels all over this place…love, love, love it. And then I got back on my bike and did a loop around the park before heading home. Bittersweet.
I didn’t think I would end up riding my bike today. I drove to the suburbs for an errand and then it started to look like I would just spend my day at home with my cats, trying to decide which is better, Ken Burns’s America, or American Experience. But it was the kind of day that demanded a bike ride, so I got on and headed downtown to see friends, because sometimes that’s just what you need. I stopped for dinners and then headed over to S.’s place before we went to the bar to drink a few drinks and play a little pool. I snapped this picture while waiting for R., who we just happened to run into, to make his shot. I like this part of the small town, where you kind of just need to see some friends, so you head out, and that’s what happens. A lovely evening, indeed, topped off with a cafe au lait and some beignets and a bike ride home in the still-cool air. Things could be worse, things could be much worse.
I spent most of my day at home, reading, grading, and organizing. I finally peeled myself off the couch and on to the bike to head to the office and put this semester to bed. The streets were mostly empty, and campus was a ghost town, so I took my bike inside and spent a lonely couple hours making sure all my ducks were in a row before hitting enter on those final grades (and no, students, I don’t round up). There’s a bittersweet feeling at the end of the term when you are just done, at least for me, as my students and I are all on to the next one, on to the next one–and I won’t be at Tulane in the fall–that’s starting to actually hit me. I took my sad sack self and my bike to the pizza place for a couple slices and a soda and then got a couple cookies for a treat from the grocery. I pedaled through the just-cool-enough air home, stopping to take this picture of a stop sign on Coliseum and Robert. The pedestrian graffiti turns it into a STOP WAR sign–not the cleverest, but a sentiment I can get behind. It is eerily easy for lots of us to forget that we are at war right now. Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight–oh, wait, that was what they said about the Confederacy during the Civil War, not any of our current wars. I’ve been thinking about wars a lot lately, and summer means I have a lot more time to think about what I want to think about. I will now raise this glass of wine and toast the start of summer, which promises many sweaty bike rides and the time to think about what to do with yourself when you can’t un-know that we are at war and you are quite sure we should STOP WAR and you also know that we largely don’t see the enemy in our battles anymore, and that’s dangerous. Shots are fired in Florida that kill in Afghanistan–that’s not a war, it’s a video game. We best figure out how to stay connected to the inhumanity of war, or we just might keep starting them. Yay summer vacation!
S. and I have been talking about going to the second Friday at Jazz Fest since we saw Arcade Fire on the schedule. I don’t really know anything about music–I’m amenable, and if you say you like it I will listen to it and probably like it to. My sister sends me songs sometimes, and she sent me some Arcade Fire songs because she liked them, and of course I liked them too, and I keep them on my little ipod, along with other songs E. thinks I’d like by Metric and Snow Patrol and Cold War Kids (who are these bands, anyway?). Do I want to see them outside with S. on a perfect Friday in New Orleans? Oh, yes indeed. After picking up a ticket from I. and getting some grading done, I got on my bike and pedaled along in the sunshine, happy to have nothing in the rest of my day but festivaling. We locked our bikes up to a fence–Jazz Fest doesn’t provide anything like enough bike parking–and went inside. Crawfish enchiladas, seafood stuffed mushrooms, some rum punch, and a whole bunch of music later and we were waiting for Arcade Fire. They were great, with their playfulness and overwrought endings and stage banter that sounded like how I used to break the ice with my students as a very shy, very nervous teacher. S. and I split up, trading time to see Willie Nelson (“You Were Always on My Mind” is such a beautiful song) and Lupe Fiasco, and then I was back for the last couple songs, and they ended with that one that I like to pedal to when I’m taking the Wisner bike path–it fits my cadence perfectly. I have never listened to that song with anyone but me, and here we all were, dancing to it. What magic! And then it was over, but they brought a dulcimer on stage, which is a total give away that there’s going to be more–the dulcimer must be played. And then they were back, and Cyndi Lauper was with them, and they played “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” I literally started shaking and then burst into tears because I was just so happy. Then it was over, we were back to our bikes, and we headed to her place, got the dog, did a lap around the neighborhood, and settled in to sit on her stoop and split a beer having conversations, variations of which we have most certainly had before and will again. As I was leaving, she wished me nice bike ride home, said she was pretty sure I would enjoy it. I did. Oh, I will miss S. and I will miss festival days like this one when I move away.
Yesterday I had the worst headache I can remember having. It was like somebody had a little sledgehammer and had taken up residence in my left temple, thumping away and sending pain down through my neck and shoulder. It finally broke last night, but I still have lingering pain in my neck and shoulder. When I got on the bike and headed to campus this afternoon I could tell it wasn’t a biking injury. It felt good, after a day off, to be back and spinning mindlessly. It didn’t take long to remember that it’s Cinco de Mayo today. Superior Grill was blocking off the street for their party (Dos Equis bottles for $4, fyi) and as I entered campus, I already saw students carrying those foam cups with red straws–tell-tale signs of frosty drinks. I got to my office and settled in with a stack of papers, pen in my right hand, head cocked to the left. Oh, that’s what hurts. 15 to go, and I can give my body a break. I got back on my bike and headed to the grocery store. Apparently I missed the mustache-and-sombrero competition they held earlier in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Am I the only one who is kinda creeped out by this “holiday” that just seems to traffic in weird racial stereotypes? I was happy to ride home, turn on some baseball, and cook myself up some broccoli and tofu, avoiding the crowds of drunk people. Sometimes I just gotta be me.