Thursday, November 22, 2012

thanks

Thanksgiving, as a piece of American mythology, is founded on a lot of bullshit, some of it genuinely offensive. But the idea of marking a day for giving thanks for what you already have is a beautiful one. And combining it with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie and stout and football, well....

And I have so much to give thanks for. I've been happier, the last year or two, than I've been since I was 7 years old. I'm doing the only thing I want to do right now. I get up in the morning and I go teach college students, committed ones and knuckleheads and every type in between, and I value them all. I spend long hours following the obscure dictates of my curiosity; there are things I have to know, and I am in the rare position of being able to make them my singular focus at any given time. I have an office with a creaky desk chair and a bookcase full of books. Students come just to gab to me and my peers are forever just hanging around. There's a secret fireplace in the student center to read in front of and I can get tickets to college basketball games for $5 if I try hard enough. Come spring there will be bald eagles nesting along the Wabash and on Tuesdays I can fill growlers with dark beer for half off. I get to peer edit for big time journals and I'm doing real research with real data. I'll be presenting at our biggest conference of the year... in Vegas... during March Madness. I cook for friends and we drink Sangiovese, talk about movies and ideas. They're letting me take grad stats courses and the cheeseburgers at the local hipster bar are amazing and people in my cohort bring in baked goods. I finally really know how to write a syllabus and I can lie in bed with a laptop and a cat and watch TV and read about syntax and the spread of the printing press and point biserial correlation and postcolonialism. There's a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river and I take it every day, but if I ever don't want to the bus stops right outside my door and runs every half hour. My dog and my cat are better than your dog and your cat. My family is happy and healthy. I'm in better shape than I've been in years, I sleep in on the weekends, we've got a nuclear reactor in the basement of the electrical engineering building(!) and you can get a tour if you know the right guy, I can get honest-to-god medical care with no copay and I look good in a suit. The coffee is piping hot in the morning. It's all pretty amazing.

I feel everything so intensely; it's always a little odd to me when people talk about the fire going out. It's only gotten hotter. I look back at my 22 year old self and I wonder why he didn't feel things a little more deeply.

I really am so lucky and so happy to be alive. Thanks to all of you, friends and critics alike, and cranky as I may be, I could never wish anything but the best for you all.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. I feel the same about Christmas. I'm an atheist, but I love winter, and I see it as a family day.

Anonymous said...

I know this is hokey, but I'm thankful for bloggers like you. I sometimes disagree and am even infuriated by you, but I respect your principledness, and my political awareness is higher and richer for reading a thoughtful blog like this. Hope you don't quit (again-ha!)

Ethan Gach said...

Reading this made me feel better about my own life as well. To you and yours Freddie.

Douglas said...

Well, what can be said? A friend from college (back in the 60s) turned me on to your blog and I like it for its thoughtful way of poking a finger in various eyes. We need it and others like it. I enjoyed this post. It was a hopeful note in a crazy world. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes, Freddie. -K.

paul h. said...

thanks.

tongorad said...

If I see/hear "cohort" one more time...I guess everyone wants to be a quant these days.
Other than that, happy thanksgiving!

Freddie said...

That's what they call my group here-- never used it before I got here.

Anonymous said...

"My dog and my cat are better than your dog and your cat"

Really, dude?

Freddie said...

I hoped it would be clear-- I'm just being a bit funny/cheeky, there.

George said...

I thank you, Freddie, for your blog.

Odelay said...

Crossed the Wabash on Sunday coming back to Iowa from a trip to Tennessee. Nice river. I also interviewed graduating undergrads for my employer at the time, years ago at Purdue. I really enjoyed that experience.

Agree with your sentiments about Thanksgiving and life in general.

Anonymous said...

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