Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Historic Week: Supreme Court Decisions, Vacation Bible School, Manuscript Assembly, oh my!

Here we sit at the end of a historic week.  When I look back, will I remember the Supreme Court decisions?  Or will I remember it as a time when major events that I didn't see as huge at the time happened in my work life?  Or will I remember it as the week of being Arts and Crafts Director for Vacation Bible School?

For those of you expecting a post that wraps up the VBS experience, head on over to my theology blog.  Today I wrote this post about lessons learned from the arts and crafts angle.  Tomorrow, I'll write about other lessons learned.  It was fun, but also exhausting.  Unlike the public school teachers who made up the majority of the staff, I was working my full-time job during the day and doing VBS at night.

Would I do it again?  Yes.  Would I want to do it as my full-time job?  Maybe.

So, let's talk about other things.  Let's talk Supreme Court decisions.  I remember looking back through journals that I kept in the 1980's, looking for mention of some national news event.  Absolutely no mention.  I've wondered if I shouldn't make more mention of national events as I blog.

Here's what I will remember about that health care decision.  On the morning that it was handed down, I was putting together a new manuscript for a chapbook competition.  I was falling in love with my poems all over again.  I was seeing connections.  I was striving for the right balance of poems that have a tone of despair and more hopeful poems.

My chapbook manuscript is titled "Cassandra Considers the Dust."  It is another collection of poems that talk about the modern workplace.  But about half of them circle back to theological ideas, like the two that are titled "Conducting the Performance Review on the Feast of the Ascension" (found here on this blog) and "Completing the Assessment Document on the Feast of the Epiphany."  About a third of them have some sort of tie to monasticism.

As the analysists talked about the implications of the Supreme Court decision, I made my decisions about which poems to keep.  I could only include about 20 of them, because I was preparing this manuscript so that I could enter it into a competition run by YellowJacket Press.  As the afternoon wore on, I made decisions about order--which poem should appear where in the manuscript.   I looked up publication information so that I could create an Acknowledgements page.

I feel very good about this manuscript, both as a chapbook and as a basis for a larger manuscript.  More thoughts, as I have them, to come!

During the first hour of the day, as the first news from the Court trickled out, my friend called me.  We chatted, and she said, "My head is about to explode."

I said, "From this Supreme Court news?"

She said, "No, I'm thinking about Eratosthenes and the circumfrence of the Earth and why someone hasn't just measured it with a tape measure."

Of course, I needed to know more.  Her daughter was working on a college project, and so she's picked up tidbits of fascinating information.  And now, so have I.

I mentioned that I intended to write a poem about a person who's listening to newscasts about historic Supreme Court decisions while pondering Erastosthenes and the circumfrence of the Earth.  She said, "If you need to know more, just ask my daughter."

I said, "She can be my Wikipedia!"  And then I imagined a song--a country song or a punk song--with the title "Gal, you are my Wikipedia."  We laughed for a bit, imagining the band we'd put together, the tribute we'd give the daughter in the liner notes.

"Does anyone write liner notes anymore?" I asked.

And here I could riff on the things that have passed away, the things I miss, the ways life changes, and the way life remains the same.  We could play a game and name the Supreme Court decision that we feel will be the most important one of our lifetime.  Will it be this one?  Unlike some of the news programs that weighed in on Thursday, I don't think so.

I would make a case for Brown v. Board of Education, which actually came 11 years before my birth (so not exactly my lifetime).  I would argue that that case transformed the Civil Rights arena for African-Americans, which would go on to be transformative for us all.  I would also argue for Roe v. Wade.

It's fitting I was introduced to Eratosthenes on a day that made me think of history and how the Supreme Court changes history and how it doesn't.  The real Wikipedia notes, "In addition, Eratosthenes was the founder of scientific chronology; he endeavored to fix the dates of the chief literary and political events from the conquest of Troy."

It's a week where much changed, yet much remained the same.  One arena of my work life doesn't change:  I must return to poems, I must think about best orders, I must make intriguing connections which may lead to new poems.  It was a week of leavings:  last days for some of my work colleagues, last days for raises, a fond farewell to Nora Ephron.

I listened to a re-broadcast of an interview with Nora Ephron.  She mentioned that we're living in an age where we have access to some of the best bread that has ever been made--in the whole history of the world, we have the best bread now.  She doesn't want to miss out on that. 

May our week-ends be full of that which nourishes, whether that be bread or history or poems or music.  If history must be made, may it be kind to us.

No comments: