Saturday, July 30, 2011

Off the grid

We're heading to the Tennessee mountains on Tuesday (by way of an overnight stopover at the in-laws' on Monday) to meet up with my extended family.  My parents will be there ... my older brother and his wife will be there with their college-bound son and teenage daughter ... and my younger brother and his wife will be there with their three children who are close to our kids' ages.

I am on record as an unreconstructed homebody.  Normally, it's fair to say, I resent being uprooted from my comfortable recliner and routine in order to vacate and recreate.  Sometimes I even dread it.

But I'm actually looking forward to the upcoming week's trip.  I'm actually thinking that I can let Noel drive a leg or two while I read or knit.  (I'm a nervous car rider and usually insist on driving the whole way, but 9 hours is ... a lot.)  Here's what would make this vacation enjoyable for me:

  • Time with my kids.  They've been on the go and away from the house in various camps for the last several weeks.  I find that I've missed their company more than I expected.  They love having fun, and I'm looking forward to having fun with them.
  • Time with my siblings and parents.  We have a great time when we're together.  My brothers are a barrel of laughs.  When we get together to play games and share memories, it's always a blast.
  • Time to read.  I've got a couple of good books going at the moment -- Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, which is our freshman summer reader this year and a favorite of mine from my own teenage years, and Anthony Trollope's The Warden.  A half hour of uninterrupted reading time at lakeside, or on the patio, or while the kids play on the playground, sounds like heaven, especially if I get to rinse and repeat.
  • Time to knit.  Of course.  Two projects going, one that's completely mindless and one that's semimindless.  What a joy it would be to see measurable progress on them for each day we're away.
  • Time to gain perspective.  There's been a lot of anxiety in my life this summer, from the treasured colleague interviewing for another job to the political crisis in Washington.  I need to get away from the relentless grind of those stressors.
I think I've reached a new point in my relationship with both my families -- the one I was born into and the one I've made.  On the one hand, the kids are at the age when they find it exciting to travel and are willing to see the disruption of their routines as an adventure.  So I worry less about the problem we're getting ourselves into by uprooting them and making all that effort.  On the other hand, I sense the increased urgency in spending time with my parents and siblings while we can all be together, in continuing to stock the storehouse of memories with those experiences.  

I don't mean it to sound morbid. I'm happy that these two movements have coincided at this point in my life.  Only if it had happened too late, or if I hadn't recognized it in time, would it be cause for regret.  Take it all together, and I'm hoping for a vacation that's more renewal than endurance test this time around, and for many years to come.


Anonymous said...

Random question. I know that you are a professor, and therefore likely to be a voracious reader, so you are precisely the type of person best fit to answer this. When you read text, do you subvocalize? That is, do you hear a voice silently articulating the words that you read in your mind? I only ask because I have received ambivalent messages as to whether or not this is a good thing: Some say that it is inextricably linked to the process of reading, while others say that it is nothing more than a vestige from our abecedarian days of learning how to read orally. I wish to know if I should be actively trying to silence this inner voice in order to become a more proficient reader. If you could post a comment indicating if this is a part of your own reading process, it would be much appreciated. By the way, love your television reviews on AV. They're written so eloquently.

Donna B. said...

Thanks for your kind words, Anonymous. I do subvocalize when I read. It doesn't slow me down (I can tell that because I read much slower when I do read aloud). What it seems to do it assist in meaning-making by allowing me to add intonation to the text. My subvocalizations include all the rise and fall of reading aloud, and lend rhythm and emotion to the bare words. I'm not "acting" the text, but I am giving the sentences shape. I don't have any desire to eliminate this from my reading habits. :)