Friday, June 20, 2008

Up late Update Update

Here's a link to the Clarke School commencement address with some pictures of the ceremony. Lovely day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Up Late Update

Hey all. Sorry I haven’t written. I hope you all are well. Lovely world keeps turning, bringing surprises and deadlines and new responsibilities, pushing the blog down on the to-do list. And even if, hypothetically, a semi-retired communications expert now living in a populated southeastern city with too much time on his hands were sending me stalker-like emails, I still can’t always find the time to write.

But I gave a talk tonight at the Yale Club in New York, a fantastical twenty-two story building across the street from Grand Central, and, feeling sleepy before hand, I drank a pot of coffee. So now I’m up. The club scared me a bit – I kept expecting someone to say, hey, who let you in here? No one did however, and after the talk, the martini they served with the complimentary meal at the rooftop restaurant was so big it came with an overflow carafe. Five bubbly young women were in the elevator on the way down and I thought of many clever things to say to them, but I had drunk two of those martinis. Also, my parents were in the elevator.

In a little more than a month, I’ll be moving to Washington, DC. I will be a visiting professor at Gallaudet. It’s been a lot of work arranging this position and I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ll be teaching a class, mentoring aspiring writers, and bringing in interesting folk for guest lectures, but aside from all that, the main thrust of my work there will be first, to help bridge the gap between the signing and speaking deaf communities; and second, to help develop a program at Walter Reed for deafened veterans.

This column in the Times points out why such a program is necessary. And I’ve talked enough in this blog about the unfortunate divide between the different deaf populations and why it’s a shame. Hopefully, we can begin to heal some of that.

I’m also hard at work at a novel whenever I have a free moment. It’s an interesting process, writing a novel – it’s really a constant discovery of how little I actually know about writing. I’ve thrown away hundreds of carefully thought-out pages while finding, on the flipside, that the most absurd shoelace-tying daydream opens up whole universes.

Next week, I’m off to Milwaukee for the national AGBell convention, then Maine for some scotch and R&R. This week Otis hopefully will start his hearing dog training. Last week was a commencement in Massachusetts, which had to be the most cynicism-free day I’ve experienced in some time (and I love the article headline -- it just nails it). I hope you all get to enjoy many days like that this summer. Wear sunscreen.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Light of Evening

On Tuesday, I’m going to JFK to pick up a young woman from Israel and bring her to Port Authority. A few years ago she was sitting on a bus in Jerusalem when a young Arabic man sat down next to her. She turned to him.
“Hello,” she said, and turned to look back out the window.
He blew himself up. The woman was rushed to the hospital. Major veins were ripped open and the doctors didn’t think she would make it. But as fate would have it, the only doctor in the country who could perform the surgery that could save her life was in the hospital that very moment, getting chemotherapy treatment for his cancer. He unhooked the chemo IV from his arm and went to the operating room and did the surgery, putting her veins back together with odd parts and guile, constructing a new face from the pieces of the old one.
“How will I recognize her?” I asked the man who wants me to pick her up.
“You will,” he said.

I was in the woods all last week, and in the mornings, the birds were out in full force -- thrushes, swallows, woodpeckers, robins, whooperwills, even a Peacock – singing their songs, courting their mates, pounding their heads into the trees in search of food. The music of their doings was a symphony as beautiful as anything any orchestra has ever played; it ebbed and flowed with an unpredictable but sublimely organized rhythm; you could feel that these birds were pouring their hearts into every sound, as if this one note, this one right here, was the last one they’d ever sing, was the culmination of everything they’d lived for.

The woman from Israel was in a coma for weeks. They didn’t know what kind of function she would recover. But she woke up and improved and left the hospital. And now she is coming to the states to, more or less, sit in the woods and listen to the birds.
“She has no anger, no regrets about what happened,” says the man who arranged her journey.
“None?” I ask, because how is that possible?
“None,” he says.
“She should be dead. But she’s alive. What is there to complain about?”

One night, I’m up reading essays about the universe. In one chapter, the author describes how every single molecule on this planet was born in the furnace of stars and then scattered throughout the universe by their supernovae explosions. That is, when the stars ran out of fuel, they collapsed in on themselves, creating tremendous pressure that blew them apart, and so their atoms were launched throughout the heavens. We are, there is no other way to put it, made of stars.