To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Part 7:Post 12: Signs of the Season

The snow hasn't melted away yet, though it's only about four inches thick now and its gone all crusty and crunchy. You couldn't make a snowball out of it anymore, not one you'd want to throw at your friends, anyway. I didn't think we could track with it looking like this, but of course  that's exactly why Rick wanted to go out and go tracking, to show me how tracks change as they melt, and how they look different in different snow conditions. Again, I'm startled by what he can see and I can't--I can remember that dust inside a track means the track is old, but that doesn't mean I can see the dust.

Christmas is approaching, and Yule, of course. I've got to go holiday shopping--but which holiday? I mean, I'll get my parents Christmas presents, obviously (especially after what happened at Thanksgiving with my Uncle), but does one go holiday shopping for Yule? I know Yule and Christmas are closely related, but as usual I'm unclear on how they really differ and what Yule is really about, other than a paradoxical Christmas without Jesus. They're decorated for Christmas in town, now, obviously, but campus still looks much like it did for Samhain. I don't know what we're doing for Yule. I have asked, but I've gotten only vague references to a holiday dinner in answer. I suppose that means whatever we're really doing is a surprise.

I don't know if we'll be doing anything for Christmas on campus at all. Most of the Christians are going home, if they're not off campus already, so I'm guessing we won't. I expect I'll go to church on my own. I could, of course, go home, but I don't really want to. As I said before, I'm curious, and my brother won't be there anyway, and now I don't really want to deal with my extended family again for a while, either. I hardly have any money, so shopping should be a bit easier this year....

I hardly have any money. I'm starting to get seriously worried about this. I've had no real income for almost a year, but I've hardly used any money, either, so my savings have lasted, but they're about gone now. I'll have to either ask my parents for more money or get an off-campus job/. Of the two, I'd much prefer the latter, but I'm not sure how easy it will be to get a job within biking distance that will accommodate my schedule here--and of course I'll have to keep a job on campus as well.

I forget if I've mentioned it, but Charlie said I can join the landscaping team next year.

Speaking of jobs...I've hardly written about my janitor-crew boss, Joe, at all.The truth is I hardly know him. I've hardly seen him. He trained us last year, and he spot-checks our work every day, but mostly I only hear from him through notes--notes assigning our jobs for the day that he used to leave in his office on the first floor of Chapel Hall. Now that Chapel Hall is closed, he leaves the notes in the Front Office instead. We send notes back, filing maintenance requests and orders for more cleaning supplies. I hadn't seen him for months when I sent him a note saying I wanted to do something else next year. He responded to my note and we had lunch together a few weeks ago. He said I'd done well, and that I can use him as a reference--not that I'll need it for Charlie, I don't think, but I might for getting a job off campus. I'll stay on the janitor crew until they hire new people in the spring.

Meanwhile, I'm reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,and loving it. I'm not really sure what half of it means yet, but I really like the idea of being an anchorite to a creek, as she says she was. And I love the descriptions, and how she takes everything she sees so seriously, like what happens to insects and amoebas and whatever else actually means something about life as a whole--and I suppose it must. And the writing is really beautiful. I suppose Charlie respects the writing, too, because his notes in the margins have hardly any words, as though he were leaving room for the author's words to do their thing, without competition. But he did mark up the book, with underlines and check marks and circles ("with circles and arrows and a paragraph of the back of each one," as the line from Alice's Restaurant says--I've had that song stuck in the back of my head, off and on, since Thanksgiving). But of course I have no idea what any of these things mean. Why did he underline or circle this or that? And why does he want me to know that he did? In a note I found today, he'd underlined a passage in light black pen, written a question mark next to it in a darker black pen, crossed out the question mark and written and exclamation point in pencil, and then, in green crayon, of all things, was a smudge that might have read "exactly," or might possibly have said something else. Obviously, four different readings, and four different, and somewhat conflicting, understandings of the text. But what was the understanding? What was the point of all these marks? I suppose I could ask him, send him a note with my little book report, but the man is on vacation. I don't want to disturb him.

By day I track animals in the snow and by night I track the cryptic perspectives of my teacher in these marks and marginalia.

[next post: Friday, December 13th: Cold]

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