As I write this, I am hurtling in a giant metal tube 31,000 feet above the state of Indiana. I want bonus points for blogging on an airplane. Not that people keep score or anything, but if they did, I want the extra credit, okay?
I used to hate to fly. Every minor shake and shimmy of turbulence, every acceleration in the pit of my stomach convinced me that the flight would end in a plummeting fireball, not a smooth landing. Oh sure, people love to quote statistics about how air travel is safer than cars or trains or walking or, say, getting out of the bathtub, but here’s the thing. You crash your car, and there’s a decent chance you’ll survive. But when you crash in a plane, the question is less about survival and more about how many burnt, charred pieces you’ll wind up in.
(We just flew over Cincinnati. I don’t know what they’ve been doing down there, but there’s a fair amount of turbulence over their city. That’s not very nice, Cincinnati. Stop it.)
But now, I just don’t care, more by sheer repetition than anything else. For the last few years in grad school, my advisor has sent me out for data collection and meetings about six times a year, and the frequent trips have beaten the fear out of me. I’m much more likely to be anxious about the length of the security screening line than whether I’m going to die in a fiery crash. Apparently familiarity can breed indifference as well as than contempt. Who knew?
Well, it has been two months since I announced I
would write every day, and since that time, I posted a grand total of
three blog posts. (So I was little off.) Part of the problem is that I
am often moved to write about topics I decide are too personal to post
here. My name’s in big green letters at the top of this page, and I’m
paranoid about the consequences of what could happen if I were to post
the wrong piece of private information in this space. So I err on the
side of caution, probably too far. As a result, all that you get are
occasional posts about novelty carols in half-dead languages and
double entendres about jazz singers. (Please forgive me for the Norah
Jones thing, by the way.)
One of these personal stories is that my family conspired together
to give me a laptop, a Dell Inspiron, for Christmas. I’m writing this
post on it right now. I plan to finish my Ph.D. work this year, and as
you might guess, this requires a fair amount of writing: papers,
presentations, dissertations. I have a computer at home and use
another computer regularly in the lab, but they differ in operating
systems, software installed, and general capabilities. I no longer
have to worry about a lot of problems I would have had transferring
data and converting files, and now I can get out of the house and work
if I have to. (God bless Panera’s wireless access.) This was an
extraordinary gift, and I am honored by it.
To be honest, I feel truly blessed to have Mom, Dad, Ben, and Suz
in my life, computer or no computer. If it weren’t for their love and
support, I wouldn’t have made it here in grad school as far as I
have. More times than I can count, a call or two to Pennsylvania has
given me the strength I need to keep going. So if I haven’t made it
clear before, folks, thank you. I love you guys.
For the past four years or so, I’ve read an original story at the Wesley Foundation’s annual coffeehouse. But this year I had to miss it because I left town to visit my brand new niece Claire. (Who I might have mentioned, once or twice.) Well, fear not. I have been working on a new story, and I’ll share it with you when I get it finished– hopefully in a few weeks. This one’s turning out to be both a little more serious and longer than previous coffeehouse offerings, so this might be a better way to share it anyway.
 Or continue being indifferent, which seems far more likely.
My niece Claire has her own website, complete with pictures, at claire.smedbergs.us. Now, you might say, how does a person that’s about, oh, 18 hours old have her own website? Well, that’s the kind of thing that happens when one’s daddy is a Mozilla developer. Congratulations again to the Smedbergs!
Sometime in the past hour or so, my sister gave birth to Claire Jane Smedberg (7 lb. 10 oz.) Thanks so much to those of you who kept Suzanne and Claire in your prayers; I am told that mother and baby are doing well. Suz and Ben and the family live a little farther away now, so I haven’t yet had a chance to visit my newest niece, but I am going back up to Pennsylvania this weekend, and you’d better believe I’ll be bringing my digital camera with me. Oh, and by the way, little Claire’s birthday is only three days before her mother’s. Quite the birthday present, no?
As my roommate has already mentioned, a certain pizza establishment in town (Buck’s Pizza) accidentally put our telephone number instead of their own (244-7492) in their advertisement in the 2005 phone book.
Interestingly, what’s most annoying thing about it is not that people call at ungodly hours of the night looking for pizza. No, the most annoying part is that every single person who calls and is corrected (it’s 244-7492) asks some variant of the following: “Wow, that must be really irritating, isn’t it?”. Yes. Yes it is. Please stop asking me that.
I think spider plants are a wonderful object lesson about forgiveness. Two of them live on the windowsill of my bedroom. One, Addercop, technically belongs to my roommate, but was entrusted to me under the (questionable) premise that I would take good care of it. The other is Shelob, one of Addercop’s offspring. Addercop is pretty big, with leaves of a foot or longer, while Shelob is still pretty puny.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m not really the kind of person that should be in charge of plants. I’m not really the kind of person that should be entrusted with the care of any object smaller than, say, a breadbox. I’m much too ADD. Any object that size or smaller is going to get lost, broken, or neglected sooner or later.
So as you might guess, until this morning, Addercop and Shelob hadn’t been watered in months. They were both drooping limply out of their pots, a dead brown slowly creeping up their leaves from the tips. A lot of leaves on both plants were completely withered away, leaving poor little Shelob pretty close to the end. If they had any motor skills at all, they’d probably act out melodramatic death scenes (“o, I am slain!”) or try to kill me with tiny papercuts for leaving them to starve to death.
But now, a few hours after their first watering of 2005, they’re already up off the mat. Addercop’s pushed his leaves up several inches and Shelob’s still got some green left in him. No matter how long or how often I abandon them, if I give them a little love, they respond. Who woulda thought a plant could be a Christ figure?
In case you were wondering. (I was pining for the fjords, but that’s another story.)
I just noticed how the band Cracker summarizes the late-graduate-school experience perfectly:
I see the light at the end of the tunnel now
Someone please tell me it’s not a train
I see the light at the end of the tunnel now
No time to speak, no time to explain