Sunday, July 31, 2011
The above is St. Cuthbert's Gospel. According to an article on The Economist's Prospero blog, it is the oldest, intact European book. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a bibliophiles dream, and it only costs $14.3 million dollars. But don't wet your quills just yet, the book has already been purchased for Britain. In fact, says Prospero, it has been on long term loan from the Jesuits to the British Library, and it seems that is where it will stay. At times when Borders is closing its doors, and news outlets are foaming over the death of the book, it is good to be reminded of the form's ancient and elegant history. I, for one, will take this as a hearty sign that books are still loved, and still have a place, if only in our history.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
RIP Borders - b. 1971, d. 2011
PBS news on Borders Liquidation
Saturday, July 23, 2011
We had our first date at a Borders, Fox and I. The bright lights, the galleries of books, the faint and charming aroma of new pages yearning for someone to read them called us back often over the last eleven years. So many of our books came to us through a Borders, and so many more were hoped to follow. Now comes the news that the book-selling giant has fallen, brought low by the inability to shift rapidly with new markets. The great competitor, Barnes & Noble, remains, and may even be buoyed by the collapse of its rival, but I cannot help but fear that the age of large-scale bookselling locations is near its end. Some people say that niche shops will remain, and that some may even return. This is glorious, but I will miss the opportunity to wander from fiction to history to science to gardening to cooking and back. The hours that I have spent in Borders' stores were happy ones.
Friday, July 22, 2011
I am reading Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of the Odyssey. Introduced as lost fragments of the epic tradition, Mason's novel is a collection of vignettes. Every few pages we are treated to a new episode, and to a new Odysseus. For while the character is always recognizable, Mason is not content to leave him unaltered. But, like the myths of the Greeks themselves, the Odysseus of The Lost Books is acceptable in all his varieties. The contradictory decisions, the twisting of tales, and the subversion of established and expected tradition are all tools of the postmodern novelist. What I find striking is that they were also tools of the ancient poets. The ancient Greeks, in many respects, would have appreciated our postmodern philosophies. Ideas that shift the locus of authority from author to text to something beyond the text would sit well with the poets at least, even if tut-tutted by the philosophers. Mason's novel is a delight, and I am pleased that I assigned it to my classes this summer. I think much can still be made from myth, and more importantly from the idea that myth is contradictory truth, told differently by each teller and yet recognizable by all.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Fox's milk has begun to come in, and little Kit has taken to it quickly. After a long nap (right now they are all long naps) he wakes and his face is a round o, searching for food. Sometimes he latches on to his sleeves or the edge of his shirt. He rarely cries. A part of me knows that this is still very early, and that we ought to be cautious making judgements about future behavior. Another part of me is desperately hopeful. Maybe these days are signs of the future? Could be. Worth hoping for at least.
I generally feed Kit, although sometimes Fox does, if she is not pumping at the time. I fed Thorn most of the time as he grew, and it is one of the best features of fatherhood. Kit is a gourmet, a term used by the lactation experts to describe an infant who feeds for a brief period, pauses to gather in the sights and sounds, and then, when he or she feels like it, resumes feeding. When mothers nurse this type of behavior can be irritating. Since Fox pumps (exclusively - see earlier posts from Thorn's day) it is only a matter of holding the bottle and waiting for that o to appear. Delightful now. Mildly annoying at 2:00 am, but then everything is mildly annoying at 2:00.
We have one night left in the hospital. The vicodin seems to be helping Fox. We can only hope that it continues to do so through the night.
Little Kit is well. He eats beautifully, sleeps well, and has been transitioning very well to this second and longest phase of human life. We look forward very much to taking him home tomorrow, and for introducing his brother to him as soon as possible. I miss my Thorn a lot, and I long for the chance for my family to be all together under one roof.
I have noted that we say stupid things when someone is in pain.
"Everything will be okay."
True, but knowing that does not always help in the moment of discomfort.
"Most people feel better by now."
Okay, but only one person is in pain right now.
And those were the highlights from this morning. When someone is in obvious pain, if our words cannot offer immediate succor, perhaps we should be silent, or let our conversation drift away from pain.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Saturday slips away. This may be our last night in the hospital. We are blessed with the most fantastic of nurses, and Kit will spend the next few hours in the nursery. Fox and I will try to get a few hours rest. We both need it. Especially Fox. Her wounds are healing, but even the simplest of movements brings pain. Still I think she is doing better than when Thorn was born. We were first-time parents then. The second time is a bit easier. Example: diaper changing - I know how to do it this time. Bit of a learning curve that was.
It has been a long stretch, but there is probably no better place than St. Joe's to be if you have to be in a hospital for the better part of a month. Fox has barely experienced July, seeing it only through the shifting sun of her windows. We will bring her home, and hope that the weather holds. We also hope that our infestation of wasps gets destroyed this week, so that we have the opportunity to use our balcony. We have had a hive of the yellow-backed beasts tucked into the upper corner of our sliding door since late April. Several calls to the Leasing Office did nothing, and the last visit by the exterminator did even less. This time they will arrive on the 19th, and I hope they blast the stinging pests to an early rendezvous with Hades. So that Fox, Thorn, and Kit can enjoy our balcony for what remains of the summer. I am not one for balconies, but the family will delight in it.
The family. We are a family now. I mean, we were before, but now there is a sentiment of perfection. The family is complete. All its members have been assembled. Fox and I do not intend to have more children, at least not biologically. If the baby bug does bite again, adoption would be our preferred route. So far, however, we are content in our house of four. I have always liked even numbers.
Drove up to campus this evening. Needed to gather books, which tomorrow I will organize for this week's work. Always lovely in the summer, Hopkins, and I wish I had more time just to sit among the trees on the quad. Someday I will. Perhaps when I am more gray than now, more bald, and more advanced in years. Right now, it is time to dash and time to catch what sleep I can. Tomorrow night is for home, I hope. What sweeter dream than that? None, I say, none at all.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
He is here. Two weeks of waiting, worrying, and wondering all fulfilled in a little, healthy, baby boy. Kit was born this morning at 10:07 am. He was delivered by Cesarean section by Doctor D., and by all accounts it was a successful and uncomplicated operation. Kit was 6 lbs and 12 oz at birth. Now, he sleeps comfortably in the maternity wing's nursery. He is bundled tightly in a blanket beribboned with pink and blue stripes. To my eyes, he looks just like his mother. Same nose. Same lips. Same troubled frown.
Fox sleeps. She has needed to for hours, but excitement kept her awake. Now while Kit is cared for, she can rest, and begin the arduous task of recuperation. Our nurses continue to be excellent, and our physicians the very best that one could hope to have. The family has received word of Kit's birth, and the glory of Facebook has spread it around. My paternal tasks for the first day are done.
I now await the pediatrician's arrival. He is going to give Kit a physical, and then I can ask him about my other baby: Thorn. Poor Thorn - yesterday he came down with something nasty, and the folks at the clinic prescribed an antibiotic. Alas, the medicine was worse than the illness, and Thorn's grandmother called me today, letting me know that he was having quite a bit of abdominal stress. We stopped the meds, but we need the pediatrician's guidance on what to do now. We shall see what he has to say. Good things, I hope.
For now, while Fox sleeps, this Sparrow will watch his Kit through the nursery window. He sleeps sweetly, and I love him already.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
<p><p>Tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow my son is born. Fox and I are nervous. Especially Fox. Needles, pain, and recovery await her tomorrow and for the next several weeks. Anyone would be afraid. All we can do is hope that everything goes as smoothly tomorrow as it can. If that happens, recovery should go relatively smoothly, too.</p><br>
<p>Wee Thorn is with his grandparents tonight. He and I had a difficult day. He awoke this morning lethargic, sweating profusely, and as pale as a porcelain doll. With Jase-Ra's help I took him to the Patient First center down the road. Tonsillitis was the diagnosis. Thorn is much better now, and equipped with antibiotics I think he will do just fine. It was scary, however, to see him there upon the floor, looking up at me with heavy-lidded, glassy eyes. I hope that never happens again.
Time for bed, good world. Tomorrow is my son's birthday.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I taught the first section of my (second) Classical Mythology course this afternoon. The first session ended last week. It is strange to teach a course back to back without a pause. But I'm glad to be done with the night class. I was not at my best between the hours of 6:00-9:00 pm. I do much better earlier in the day. Since this new section is at 1:00 pm, I'm feeling just fine and full of energy as class starts. I also like getting home in time for dinner. Tonight Thorn and I had chicken and cucumbers. Tomorrow we'll make our way through the broccoli and asparagus that I purchased on Monday. Green food! The tastiest, you know.
Our waiting is almost over. We look forward to the end with great love. Very, very soon we'll have a new brother for Thorn, and a new son, and a newly formed family.
Life is still good. Waiting still stinks.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Fox has gone to bed. I should be there myself, but I cannot sleep. Hours tick by on the big clock in Fox's room, the sun shifts just outside her window, and the nurses enter three times a shift. It is peaceful. It is dull. We try to fill our day with work and small amusements, but we are both afraid. Not over the health of our baby, who has been so strong this sluggish week, and not over Fox's health, which continues to be rosy. We fear the unknown. We fear more waiting. Will there be labor, or, as the doctor said this morning, will Fox have a Cesarean Section? If the latter, we know the date: Bastille Day - the 14th of July. But, will Fox's recovery be as difficult as it was last time? The doctors suggest it will not be, and part of me wants to trust them, but part cannot.
Routine is an essential component of our lives. Fox and I live well-ordered existences, and we are weaker than we ought to be when faced with imminent and difficult change. This is especially true when that change is preceded by unexpected disruption. I hope we can find the energy to reorder our days when they are no longer defined by a hospital's schedule.
I am also afraid, because I will need to leave Fox in the hospital on Sunday night. Fatherhood calls, and Thorn needs me. It was a difficult decision, but we did not have any choice. We will make the best of it. Fox's computer works better in the hospital than mine. We will attempt a Skype connection that will remain open while I am at home and she is in here.
Do not worry, I tell myself. Do not add trouble to today from tomorrow. Today is trouble enough. And, more, there are worse troubles than ours. All are healthy. All have food and shelter. Our problems, blessedly, are first world problems.
Now, to read about another world, another time, and the grueling lives that lived in it. Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth will see me to my sleep.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Little Kit did not grace us with his presence on the Fourth of July. Independence Day went without a bang, except in Baltimore where a man was stabbed and a four-year old shot. So nice to be far from the country's sixth most violent city. Well, not so far, but within these hospital walls we feel very far indeed from the maddening crowd. As I reentered the building after teaching my evening class, I was struck by the utter silence of the place. Not a soul as I wandered, burdened by bags and tea, from hallway to hallway, and then up the elevator. The waiting room just outside the maternity wing was, as always, bright and loud. Two families sat, watching the television and waiting for news. I wait, too, but I do not expect any change tonight. I have been wrong before, but I feel that we are here for some time more. Best make what we can of it. Tomorrow morning I crack open my to-do book and figure out where I am on several projects. Tonight I'm reading Zach Mason's The Lost Books of the Odyssey. My class is going through it, and we'll have a discussion about it on Thursday. So far, I find it excellent. It plays delightful postmodern games with Homer's epic.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
I will not say that our stay in the hospital has been anything but peaceful. Quiescence is the rule. The nurses come and go in an expected rhythm. The machine hum of monitors and IV drips provide ambient white noise. We read. Talk. Write. And wait. Oh, the waiting! Is there anything as odious as waiting and not knowing when the waiting will end? Does Godot arrive in this play of ours? Kit's heart rate continues to show strong whenever they wrap the monitors around Fox. He reveals no hint of his infantile intentions. The doctors say it could still be anytime. Maybe tomorrow? Is our Kit especially patriotic? If so our lads have a red, white, and blue sense to them - with Thorn born around Memorial Day, and Kit potentially born tomorrow on the 4th of July. No one can say. Not for the first time have I wished prophetic powers. Alas, I am too squeamish for entrails, and I haven't the patience for birds. Knucklebones? But we all know that the bones will tell us nothing.
We are comfortable. We have food, books, and a pleasant nighttime nurse who doubles as a yoga instructor. Fox has learned some 'stuck in a bed' yoga moves, and they seem to help her relax. My mother, brother (by one reckoning), and his wife watch Thorn for us. I know he is in the best of care. I hope we can share a baby brother with him soon.
I will share more soon.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
We humans perceive time in such funny ways. Days always move at the same rhythmic pace. An hour on Earth is an hour. Never a second more. Never a second less. And yet, there are times when we distinctly feel the movement of time as being slower or faster. This is one of those times for me. As I wait now in the hospital with Fox, and as I watch the hours drift, it strikes me that this is longest span of days I've ever experienced. We are waiting for something, anything to happen, and all that does is hospital routine. Nurses enter. Nurses leave. Equipment gets hooked up, and then detached. The day pulses by, but it never speeds up. If time is a river, then we are stuck in a muddy outflow. Sluggish, brackish water swirling aimlessly, hoping for direction.
The doctors are not fortune tellers or oracles. Apollo might sometimes look over them, but with his gifts he is sparing. Prophecy only goes to the unlucky darlings who catch the dashing god's roving attention. Our doctors are all too lucky, but that doesn't mean they have all the answers. How long we will be in here, or when we can expect the baby are unanswerable. We can only wait, and that is what makes time seem to crawl. Time dilation at its worst.
Time for bed.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Hospitals are not restaurants. The food that they serve is meant to sustain life. It need not please the palate. But we did wonder - with the state of current knowledge on nutrition, why is so much of what Fox received today pure sugar? I guess sugar is easy and relatively safe, but Fox wanted to know why, after so much time and energy spent eating well for the baby, when she gets to the hospital all she gets is sugar? It seems strange. Any thoughts? I need something to occupy my mind right now and this seems as good a thing as any.
We find ourselves on a beautiful July 1 in the labor and delivery section of our local hospital. Last night Fox's water broke, signaling that Kit was ready for the world. A little ready anyway. Fox is not in labor, and the doctors hope to hold Kit in the womb for a few more days. No matter what happens, our baby will have to spend time in the NICU. We are scared, but our physicians are amazing, the nursing staff top notch, and the hospital the nicest we've ever seen. Maybe our roguish Kit will be born on the 4th of July? Talk about fireworks.