When the ends of my weeks are occupied by grading (with all the actual grading and profuse not-grading that process involves), I find myself just plain tired. But today the dogwood bloomed in full force (and it's red--somehow I'd forgotten), and we had a low-rumbling spring thunderstorm, locatable enough by its sound that I could point to the clouds that were making all the fuss. And rain: first, drizzle; then, a torrent, a spraying, water water everywhere, bringing in its train a continued shower of fat, souring pink and white petals. On the ground, they grow thin and slippery, treacherous, their smell unplaceable. But today the dogwood bloomed in full force, as if in consolation.
We're on to our final book in one course, getting ready to start the final book in another, careening toward the home stretch in all. This morning, as we prepared to plunge into discussing the exhuming of mass graves in eastern Bosnia, ca. 1996, one of my students registered aloud the strangeness of having hit the end of the semester as swiftly as we suddenly have. Later, I realized that it's been a couple of semesters since I've been able to articulate for my students the nostalgia that I used to feel (and tell them about) well in advance of a semester's end. I still feel it to some degree, but that proleptic feeling of missing them is far less pronounced than is my elemental desire to make it through the all the work still before me, and to make it through in one reasonably rested piece.
And dissolution, too. I forgot to tell you that two nights ago, I dreamed: a colleague (from another department) and I found ourselves the only two survivors of a sunken ship, some kind of exploratory vessel. We wore large diving masks and wetsuits. "Don't breathe through your nose," he told me. "That oxygen's all we've got left." Somehow, we were breathing through our mouths, and the air we were taking in was coming from our masks and was thus finite, but somehow we weren't dying (and I don't think we were even very scared; I seem to recall that we had tasks to complete and were going about completing them). And then we were taken in by people who weren't rescuers but were our friends. But we knew that we were going to be put back into the wreck, in our masks, to await a proper, foretold rescue. "Can't we just stay?" I kept asking him. He (and others) kept insisting that we had to play out the predetermined narrative.
This wet night, as I washed my face, getting ready for bed, the burble of the water from the bathroom faucet made a sound like the rained-upon red cardinal singing my afternoon at the top of the maple tree while I graded.