The long-awaited third update from North Carolina is upon you:
At least, I’ve been long-awaiting it, and you all might have other feelings about it, but, for the time being, let’s just agree that dread is a form of waiting and that, with any luck ob-la-di, ob-la-da, et cetera. That being said:
Traci and I have been vising and revising the steel-mill novel I’ve been working on since 10 May 2000, and we’re feeling quite good about it, as well as thinking very highly of me. Most of my energy lately has gone into the project, despite the fact that I’m supposed to be delegating household responsibility, watching Leah, cooking dinner, and driving Zac, Sam, and Naomi back and forth from and to school. That said, I have passed the buck such that Zac, Sam, and Naomi watch Leah most of the time, while she drives them to school. If I can just get Daisy to make the split-pea soup, and teach Desi to type up these damned letters, I’ll have more of the time I need for beauty napping, and, God knows, I don’t need skimp on that.
As far as my manuscript goes, I’ve been putting the first ten pages in bottles and throwing them in the Cape Fear River Basin for the past few weeks with Self Addressed Stamped Envelopes, anxiously awaiting checks for tens-of-thousands-of dollars to slide underneath the front door, accompanied by very pretty books with pictures of me looking very mean and intelligent on the back. Every mentor I’ve ever had keeps suggesting there are better ways to publish a book, but I don’t buy it. I’m going to keep throwing the bottles.
The kids are enjoying school to whatever extent 4th, 7th, and 10th graders are allowed to enjoy school.
Naomi tried out for the jumproping team this semester, but did not make it, which leads me to think conspiracy, but she’s decided she simply hadn’t practiced enough and will improve for the next try outs. She keeps earning high grades, despite the fact that I make her go on bike rides with me and won’t let her do her homework. She’s also newly in love with gymnastics and is rapidly approaching handspringing without hands and cartwheeling with neither carts nor wheels.
Sam tried out for soccer last week and, boy, are his legs tired. Not many 7th graders made the team, which is of little consolation to him, but he seems vaguely certain that there will be a next year and in that “next year” he will be much improved. In the meantime, he’s reminding me of my middle school athletics – Atari and Twinkies were my major events – and I long for my youth. After scoring in the 99th percentile in every category on his Ohio aptitude tests last year, Guilford Middle School placed him in the intermediate 7th-grade, despite my daily protests and interviews with guidance counselors, teachers, principals, janitors, and a number of cashiers at Harris Teeter. After three weeks, they bumped him up to the honors classes in the middle of a science test. He asked what the test was on. The teacher told him the chapter. He read the chapter and then took the test while his classmates scribbled furiously. That is, of course, where Sam ended the story. I said, “So, how’d you do?” He said, “Oh, I got a hundred. What’s for dinner?”
Over the summer, the kids found a local gym called Tumblebees where they could go once a week and use the trampolines and the balance beams and the parallel bars and et cetera. The place also has a thirty-five-foot-tall rock-climbing room. We signed all three up for weekly classes and now they climb like three tall, skinny monkeys up and down everything in sight. After five weeks of classes, Zac placed third in the men’s beginners’ bouldering contest last weekend and won a pair of rock-climbing shoes. Also he’s attending his first N.C. high school homecoming dance tonight, and, need I say, God be with us all.
Just as Chronos overthrew Chaos, Zeus et. al. chucked the Titans’s asses out of heaven, and humans got tired of the ambiguity and randomness of their deities, children everywhere eventually surpass their parents. I’ve always known my day would come – I had hoped, though, that the kids would at least be in college first. But I keep putting my hopes in that one hand and it’s still not filling up.
In the meantime, we have been a little concerned about what’s on television. With all the sex and illicit drug use, the violence and the flagrant disregard for etiquette; with commercial after commercial constantly reinforcing false ideologies of sexism, machismo, and consumerism; with the mind-numbing sitcoms and increasingly marketable professional sports; with all that tv has to offer, we worry that our kids might find themselves falling behind their peers. We try to make them sit down and watch a couple hours each night, but they’re always too busy dissecting electronic equipment and doing pull ups.
We also worry that they’re not getting enough steroids from processed food products. But they seem to be keeping pace all right.
traci is busily professoring. She created a new reading series – Wordquake – which opens this Thursday in our living room. And we’re looking forward to an opportunity to travel again, maybe sometime in the year 2025.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to join me next time I post a letter to tell you in even more detail about how great our children are. Until then y’all take care.
Post Script: It’s recently come to my attention that maybe I’m not receiving all of my emails – I won’t go into detail, but if you’re on this list, and you’ve written me an email requesting a response over the last year or so, and I haven’t responded, there’s a chance I just didn’t get it. Also, I can’t find my left red flip flop, so if anybody knows where it is or has one just like it, I’d like it back.