Monday, May 29, 2017

Old Devotions

Good Monday morning.

Last week I left you promising to return & regale you with my/our summer plans as well as update you on book club happenings. I intend to do both of those things before I close this out, so sit tight. 

I don't even know where to start with this last week. I forgot, you know? I forgot the incomparable feeling of having nowhere you have to be, of putting on make-up for church on Sunday morning & then not putting a stitch of it on again until the next Sunday morning. That is exactly what I did last week & I think it did as much for my mental health as the various beaches I know you all have visited because you have & continue to share all your vacation joy on social media for those of us at home in our pajamas. I have students on beaches literally across the world, & my parents have been in New York City the past week, & I've watched it all unfold from my couch.

While we didn't go to the beach or to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden . . . or see a Josh Groban musical, the kids & I did a few things last week, & maybe more importantly, I made some plans, & I bought a few things online. 

Let me back up a couple of months & share with you a conversation Trey & I had one spring Saturday. I was bustling around the house like a maniac trying to accomplish all of the many things that have to be accomplished on Saturdays during the school year & Trey asked if he could do anything to help. I said sure; You can vacuum the house. He did vacuum the house, & then the next week he hired someone to come to the house every other week to do some basic cleaning: dust, vacuum, clean the toilets.

I am not a fan of someone else cleaning my house. I am just very particular about most things, but I admitted I needed some help, & the help will continue through the summer, & so last Monday morning the children & I had to be out of the house by around ten. This was hard for me. It was raining & I wanted so much to stay in the house, in my pajamas, for the entire day & watch the rain while drinking coffee, but I got us all (semi) dressed, picked up some muffins, & we hung out at my sister's house for a couple of hours.

Due to the rain, & also due to the fact that I'll do anything to buy groceries alone, I waited until Trey got home from work Monday night & returned to town by myself & bought a lot of groceries. I cooked twice last week. If you knew more of the details of our lives you'd understand why that merits a mention on the blog. I don't dislike cooking, but oftentimes I am the only one who eats what I cook, & then I throw half of it out days later, making sure to do so while Trey's in the house so I can deliver my riveting This is why I don't cook speech as I shovel wasted food into the garbage can.

Tuesday night I made a lasagna, which is something I do very rarely because it's a sloppy mess trying to assemble lasagna & I always find myself near tears days later when I'm throwing half of it out. Trey claims to not hate my lasagna, but he's shying away from bread & pasta & such at the moment in an effort to lose some weight, & so, as I suspected would be the case, I was the only one who ate lasagna Tuesday night.

Wednesday I was completely exhausted; the kids & I slept pretty late & I dozed off & on all day. I think it was a combination of Tuesday's lasagna effort, coupled with the physical, mental, & emotional stress of the school year finally descending on me. I was in my bed or on the couch as much as the kids would allow, & I didn't feel at all bad about it. I was legitimately exhausted, & I had made a deal with myself on Monday regarding the end of May.

You see, this Thursday, June 1, I begin summer school. Yes, that's right. I have to continue earning graduate English hours in order to offer Dual Enrollment English in the high school classroom with the blessing of Louisiana Tech, the institution granting students their college English credit so long as I satisfy the basic requirements set forth by Tech, as well as the sometimes specific & stringent requirements set forth by Tech's English department.

Sadly the only graduate English course offered online this summer runs all summer; it begins Thursday & it will not end until mid-August. I know you're dying to know but I'll share more of the specifics of the course with you later. Knowing this course will be a monkey on my back for the remainder of the summer, last Monday I decided I was going to be a little selfish with the remaining days in the month of May; that bold decision basically meant I ate a lot of ice cream last week, bought a lot of stuff online, & even booked a beach trip for July, a trip that I hope will not interfere too drastically with my online course work.

Late Wednesday night I quit reading this month's book club book for a few minutes & made a decision that's been a long time coming. For years I've periodically checked eBay for first edition copies of A Farewell to Arms. They are not cheap. I've done a little bit of research about collecting first editions, how to identify them (which varies greatly depending on the original year of a book's  publication), & why a first edition, first print is so desirable. A book is considered to be a first edition until some significant changes are made to the text, so a novel might go through several rounds of printing & all those copies are still considered to be "first editions." A first edition, first print is a copy of the book that was printed in the first round of prints. Collectors not only want first editions, they ideally want a first edition, first print.

Any first edition of a classic novel is going to retain some value, & most book sellers designate first edition, first print, or first edition, fifth print, etc. I'll tell you that if you have a hardback copy first edition (any round of print, but especially first print) of any of the Harry Potter books, hold on to that, especially the early novels. By the time the final books were printed, the publishers knew the copies would sell, so, for example, the first print of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came in somewhere around one million copies, so a first edition, first print of Half-Blood Prince will likely never be worth what a first edition, first print copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is. For the same reason, a first edition, first print of an author's first novel (or first successful novel) is often worth more than any other first edition, first print that author later writes because when the first print of that first (eventually) successful novel ran, the author wasn't a successful author, & no one knew if the book would be a success, & so the first print of the novel is often only a few thousand copies.

From what I've gathered, of all of Hemingway's novels, The Sun Also Rises, which was published three years before A Farewell to Arms & was the novel that put Hemingway on the literary map (a map he'd go on to redefine), is the priciest first edition, first print of those penned by Hemingway, & this makes sense. I might one day look into a first print copy of The Sun Also Rises. I may do so before 2026, as that year will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Sun Also Rises & its stock will only, well, rise from there. You see what I did there?

Fascinating stuff, right? I'm sure by now you've probably guessed that late last Wednesday night, after stalking an eBay seller relentlessly & watching his listing for a first edition, first print copy of A Farewell to Arms, I bought myself a first edition, first print copy of A Farewell to Arms. The book had been marked down a little bit & it was a good deal & so, with a little encouragement from my mother, I did it.

Sadly my baby is in transit (& the mail doesn't run today) & so you'll have to wait for a picture of my treasure. Actually you probably won't have to wait that long because I'll likely take & share a bunch of selfies with my book once she's in my hands. All this does make me wonder if, in fifty years or so, hardbacks that are being published today might not be worth something simply because so few are produced when you consider the explosion of digital book sales. Yet another reason to buy & hoard real, tangible books. 

The Internet is so interesting; I did so little on Wednesday, & yet, I did so much, finally acting on a desire I've had for years. I woke up Thursday morning & smiled & thought, I finally did it. Inspired by my bold action late Wednesday evening, on Thursday I again cooked. I put a roast in the crock pot. Trey always whines a little about roast - my roast, any roast - claiming roast is just too dry. With this in mind, I settled an entire stick of butter on top of the roast before placing the lid on the crock pot. The day plodded along. The roast simmered. The children made messes. I bought another book online (my textbook for the summer school class . . . much less interesting than Wednesday's online book purchase). I bought some needed bathmats online. Actually they are not even bathmats; they are rugs (runners) for our master bath, which is this huge area with concrete floors that's been screaming for some warmth, but I've been ignoring the screaming for months while school was in session.

After I'd eaten some roast & the kids finished their non-roast dinner (peanut butter & jelly sandwiches & a banana for them), I decided since we hadn't left the house since Monday, we'd drive to get some ice cream. Imagine my surprise when, upon entering the house post-ice cream, Trey was devouring what remained of the roast. He literally ate every last bite of it, proclaiming it to be the best roast I have ever made. I don't think he was lying. I've known Trey a long time; he would not eat an entire roast to spare my feelings. 

The euphoria from Wednesday & Thursday's various victories carried through the weekend. On Friday I took the kids to the park. Admittedly that wasn't overly pleasant as it was hotter than I expected & incredibly muggy, but we had a little bit of fun, Henry fought with strangers on the playground, I took some pictures of the kids, & then later we met Trey for dinner at The Creamery because, despite the ball cap covering my unwashed hair, I was determined to eat one of their hamburgers. Then I ate ice cream. Again. Rocky Road. In a giant waffle cone.

To break up all this wordiness, some photos of our time at the park:

Saturday was unremarkable, with one exception. I've mentioned already that the Internet is amazing. All last week I saw my friends, my family, my students on their various adventures all over the world. I didn't want to be anywhere but in my house last week, & I'm excited about again spending the week in my house this week. However, before I return to the classroom in the fall, I have to go somewhere. I reached this inescapable conclusion Friday night. I cannot recall the last time I packed a bag & went anywhere; it was likely last summer when the kids & I spent a night or two at my parents' house, which is about twenty minutes from our house.

On Saturday, after some discussion (via text) with my mother, I booked a beachfront condo in which the kids & my mother & I will spend a week later this summer. I love the men in my life but they're total losers when it comes to the beach. We're going to do the beach our way, which means we stay on the beach (the beach can be both seen & heard from the condo), nobody plays golf, nobody takes up room in the car with their golf clubs, nobody gets up early & insists others do the same because we're "on vacation" & "need to make the most of it." I may not even take my make-up.

The book club meets tonight & I am so excited. Yes, we meet every month, & yes, I made every meeting this past year, but you know what? I barely remember some of the meetings; I was probably lousy company. I have not been the world's best book club member, or mother, or wife . . . or anything since August. An outsider looking in on last week would think I am the laziest woman alive, but last week was amazing for me, & not just because of what I bought online, & not just because of the condo I booked. I needed to sleep, to be in my house, to be with my kids, to eat a hamburger & ice cream with my family. I've been making coffee with coffee grounds, rather than the K-cups I use when I am in a hurry. I've been in a hurry since last August. To loosely paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time for K-cups & Yetis, & there is a time to savor coffee grounds & drink coffee from a mug. There is a time to pack lunches at six in the morning, & there is a time to sleep & not have your second cup of coffee until around ten in the morning.

I don't often compare myself to the Apostle Paul, but I do feel as though scales slowly fell from my eyes last week. I am once again seeing the world in color after months of viewing it through a militant - though admittedly efficient but somewhat colorless - lens.

I've reached the end & have yet to tell you more about this month's book club book, The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. As a teaser, I'll tell you that it's the story of how a boy's death brings together an unexpected cast of characters whose lives are changed for the better. The boy's life, though it was brief & it is over when the book opens, fuels the story. I suppose it's fitting that we're discussing it on Memorial Day.

Those to whom thanks is due today, & every day, won't read any social media posts or hear & enjoy any patriotic music. They are gone, their eyes & ears closed until the Lord returns. Thank the Lord for them, thank their families who remain & are grieving, & remember that today, & every day, you have the privilege of thanking Jesus for His sacrifice; those prayers won't fall on deaf ears, because He defeated death.

Were it possible to ask them, I'm certain the majority of those who have given their lives in service to their country would cite as their example & their inspiration the sacrifice that was made in their stead on the cross. It's not often something you hear in public prayers, & it's not often something I say in prayer, but yet another prayer to utter is, "Thank you for your example," because there is no doubt the example of sacrificial love demonstrated on the cross has been the catalyst for other countless sacrifices made on my behalf, on behalf of my children, sacrifices that allow us to continue to spend weeks as we did last week, free as birds, coming & going as we please, eating ice cream, attending church, luxuriating in the sweetness of a life that is lived under a blanket of freedom.

Enjoy your Memorial Day. The Lord willing, we'll resume my fascinating chronicling of these slow summer days next week.


No comments:

Post a Comment