Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Goodies, or not

So, 2007 was intended to be the "Body as a Temple" year. Towards that end, I started walking several miles a day, took yoga (to which I am an undying convert). I decided that vegetarianism was the thing to do. Since then, while I haven't lost dramatic amounts of weight or anything like that, but the weight has stayed down and the sciatica is cured. Best of all, for the first time my insides just feel *clean.* I don't have a better way of putting it--everything just feels clean. On the inside, everything feels ordered and not jumbly or stuffed up under other things. I dare you to try it for a couple of months and see what happens.

Well...then the holidays arrived. As part of a university community, every possible division, department, building, office, school, etc. has to have a holiday party. I have now been to 6 in as many days. (People like to take Sundays off to rest up for the partying that goes on the rest of the week.) The staff has a party separate from the faculty party, and then there's one big get-together for faculty and staff! What an idea. And of course, I have to bring food and a gift to each--What this means is that there is food everywhere all the time!! There have been few vegetarian choices so I become the weird new archivist eating at least half of the spinach dip all by herself, but except for one significant lapse in judgement, I have been able to cope and still enjoy goodies.

What does this have to do with the Interior/Exterior debate? In the Exterior, people don't celebrate the holidays in the same way. At the museum, the volunteers brought in plates of cookies or bowls of candy, but that was about the extent of it. (We also have Jewish volunteers, so we didn't want to flaunt Christmas all over the place.) Plenty of parties are being had by individual people, lobbyists and the American Beer Association, but as far as whole offices doing it, it wasn't that common.

In the Interior our social capital is signed, sealed, and delivered with food, piled with more food and served up with a side It's our way of meeting each other's needs while indulging their tastes and wants. And I have a strong emotional attachment to this feeding. THEY SUCCEEDED! But today, after party number 10, I just want a good ol' fashioned hearty slap on the back, and a resounding "Merry Christmas". A celebratory candy cane and cup of hot chocolate works just fine!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For Jack

Today I found out that a dear friend and colleague of mine in Virginia passed away. Jack has been suffering for three years now with inoperable liver cancer. He responded well to chemotherapy. While Jack has been ill, his wife has suffered a number of broken bones from falls, and his son has been suffering from a THIRD bout with lung cancer. Jack died yesterday from a massive heart attack when he went out to get in the newspaper. Dying this way was very unexpected, and not what the family wanted to spend their holidays dealing with.

Let me tell you a little about him. If could choose another grandfather, I'd like to have Jack. He was with the Department of Labor for over thirty years, and had a number of witty and wry observations to make on the state of national affairs. His beautiful blue eyes sparkled with jokes, and he gave me pats on the back whenever he came in. He was gentle and very kind. He cared about doing his job and doing it well, and bending over backwards to make our visitors at the museum welcome and accomodated. Despite his discomfort from his illness and the toll it was taking on his overall health, he never once complained. If you asked him how we was, the answer was a hearty "just fine." If you knew he wasn't just fine, and he couldn't quite bring himself to say it, he would say "oh, good." That, for Jack, was complaining.

I miss him very, very much. I wish I could go to his funeral, but with the holidays coming, that will be hard to arrange. I miss all the people who will gather today at the museum to remember him and console each other. They were my family-away-from-home, and like any family the life cycle will shift and roles will change, and we will have to say long, long goodbyes. Since we can none of us evade death, I am glad that Jack died of a quick heart attack at home, and that neighbors were outside leaving for work and saw it happen. I am glad he didn't spend more years suffering from liver cancer.

So this song is for Jack, someone who I will always miss, with a hope that we won't quite be parted for eternity.

Follow the Lights, Ryan Adams