Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanks and No Thanks

Having successfully made it through the end of November, I find myself facing just two more weeks of the penultimate semester of my career as a university professor. I am feeling vaguely apprehensive about who I will be in May and am wondering whether people in other lines of work wrap their identities so closely around their jobs. For the Thanksgiving weekend, the Russian and I went to KC--or, rather, I went to KC. Oleg was already there. This year, he would not attend Thanksgiving Day dinner at my aunt's but insisted on staying behind, alone, at my parents' house. A couple months ago, my uncle and cousin offended him, and he has since determined that eating at their house violates his principles. Maybe it's my medication, but I just could not work up the sense of outrage I thought would be an appropriate response to this defection. I tried, but I wasn't that interested. I wouldn't go if I were him either. I wanted to see my niece and nephews, and that was my only chance on this visit. Thanksgiving always disappoints me. People say they prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas because there's less commercialism associated with Thanksgiving. In my experience, there is nothing associated with Thanksgiving. It's nice to see the family and all that, but the holiday itself strikes me as peculiarly empty. If I were calling the shots for Thanksgiving, I would have every Thanksgiving commence with a reading from The Plymouth Adventure. Then we would listen to the President, who, rather than pardoning a stupid turkey, would deliver a radio address at noon in which he would offer a national thank you. There would always be hot apple cider. And, I would try to have something like an apple press going or some corn to husk. People could rake the yard or shovel snow, if nothing else. And, there would be no television at all, and no video games, and everyone would eat in one room, at one big table, no matter how many people, no matter how squished together. I would most definitely do something like go around and have each person say one thing for which they are thankful. And for dinner, we would first have popcorn and squash, maybe some clams. Then venison and hasty pudding. After dinner, we would sit in front of a fireplace and read a few American Indian tales and think about how everything for which we give thanks comes at a great cost.

While in KC, Oleg and I also went house hunting. He has convinced a friend in Russia to buy a house in the US as an investment. We will live in it for three years and then sell the house--making a profit of some sort for the friend and providing ourselves with a place to live. (I don't even want to get started on all the nightmare scenarios that come to mind in relation to this little scheme.) Anyway, while looking at houses, I kept forgetting what we were doing. I kept thinking about whether I would want to live in the house forever, and I would forget to think about whether someone else would want to buy the house from me later. Apparently, no one else would want any of the houses I like, and all the houses I picked out have now been rejected. So, I've lost interest in the search and am working on reconciling myself to the prospect of living in exactly the kind of house I never wanted to live in, likely located in a neighborhood of the sort I so hated and longed to escape as an adolescent. Life seems such a let-down.

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