Ten Years Ago Today

Subject: Re: congrats
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 16:50:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Wes Rountree
To: billy hamilton

I must tell you that I just got the ring and that I will be unable to
keep it for very long. My plans have changed, so I ask you for Sage’s
hand in marriage. Actually I will ask her tonight, but I feel bad that
I did not ask you earlier, yet I did not plan to do it this soon. Write
me back tonight if you see this.

Date: Thu, 21 Dec 1995 16:55:56 -0500 (EST)
From: billy hamilton
To: Wes Rountree
Subject: Re: congrats

Hi Wes,

Great that I was on the net when you asked. The answer is a


That’s really cool. I have been telling Sage not to expect
anything. Apparently your tactics have been fairly successful.

Cindy and I are delighted. We love you. And Sage.

Go for it, Dude. I’m right behind you.



Happy Dirt Day

Lily’s fifth birthday was celebrated in style, with four friends, three family members, two games of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and one wild wagon ride, courtesy of Cousin Jay.

The Good Life

This week and last, I’ve been working on an academic journal devoted to English pedagogy. Half of it is highfalutin theory, and the other half is complaints that border on scorn toward the students. As I listen to my college- and law-school-teaching friends complain about stacks of papers and exams to grade, plagiarists to expose, and heavy courseloads to plan for, I’m reminded again of how good I’ve got it.

My yoga and cycling students want to be in class. They want to do the work. They like it to be challenging–in the case of the indoor cycling students, they complain when it’s too easy. When I look out at my yoga students and see a class full of blank expressions, or when I hear snores in Corpse Pose, I know I’m doing things right. The planning I put into the class is a satisfying use of my teaching training and experience. I have no grading to do.

And when I need some intellectual stimulation, there’s always the other teachers’ complaints to copyedit.

Bad Taste

Which of these cousins has the more offensive T-shirt? Depends on your politics and gender. Big, buff Cousin Jay is taking Team Beaver a little too far. Lily, in the bottom right corner, does not look amused.

We’ve Got Funk Spirit, Yes, We Do!

Two things (at least two things) have made us laugh in the last few hours. One was the ad, the Web site, and the concept of the Fathead, a large poster of your favorite NFL team’s helmet. Last night we were very close to getting them at Christmas gifts for Wes’s father and my mother, until we thought better of it this morning.

The other was the list of proposed names for the new high school to be built in town. The main debate is between those who want to name it Carrboro High, since it sits in Carrboro’s planning district, and those who feel it must have the name Chapel Hill in there (South Chapel Hill High, Chapel Hill South High) because of the prestige and association of education the town’s name confers. (One woman was quoted in the paper as saying, “What does one think of when told ‘Chapel Hill’? EDUCATION. What does one think of when told ‘Carrboro’? FUNKY ECLECTIC. . . . I want EDUCATION, not FUNKY ECLECTIC.”)

The best name on the list of all those proposed, though, is James Brown Funk Spirit High School. Wow.

Ten Percent

If, as the scientists tell us, we use 10 percent of our brains, and, as Owen Wilson tells us, we use 10 percent of our hearts, and, as I tell my yoga students, we use 10 percent of our lungs, then I’m pretty sure we also use 10 percent of our dishwasher capacity.

A few months back, I watched bemused as my friend Sarah loaded her new dishwasher with soiled plates. She’d scraped them, but not rinsed them, and when she caught me staring, she explained that (for once, she said) she’d read the appliance manual. It pointed out that the purpose of the machine was to save water and wash plates, and that by “prerinsing,” you were really doubling the water and the work. Since then, I’ve been conducting an ongoing experiment on the limits of my dishwasher’s capacity. It does fine with tomato sauce with no rinse. Even cheese is OK. Eggs do need not only a prerinse, but a good scrub.

Tonight as I loaded the dishes, I noticed the flip-down racks on the shelves. This dishwasher is much more sophisticated than I could imagine. There must be one hundred different configurations I haven’t considered. Ten percent.

Happily, I rarely load (and even more rarely unload) the dishwasher. Thanks, Wessie.

Fear the Beaver

This editorial from the local paper recounts an attack by a rabid beaver!!! There must be some way to connect that with the mystique of Team Beaver Cycling. OK, not that it has much mystique.

My Name Is Sage

What a difference the fix of a run has made in my outlook (that, and progress on the book; I’ve taken down my complaints!). The knees are just tendonitis, maybe some bursitis on the right side. Just as with the stress fracture I had last year, I think it’s the yoga that really brought it on: in shins already stressed from marathon-training mileage, repeated landings out of handstand in a workshop were too much; in a knee already irritated from the tight clips on the Spinning bikes at the gym, kneeling over and over on my thin teaching mat exacerbated the problem.

The orthopedics PA, whom I adore, said, “You can run on it–it might hurt, but it won’t make it worse.” So off I went, and the pain didn’t increase, but my sense of well-being skyrocketed.

Another change: instead of ice, which the PA says works primarily to numb the pain, I’m using heat (“to increase circulation to the avascular tendons”). Psychologically and metaphorically, that’s a big difference.

The running eases my brain in a way yoga practice doesn’t quite. It’s invigorating and exhausting. While yoga, in Patanjali’s words, is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, solitary running gives me awareness of my mind’s fluctuations, and often leads me to that place of empty brain or of focus (dharana and the opposite of pratyahara, a hyperawareness of the senses) that we seek through yoga.

And sometimes, when it’s good, it’s dhyana, a mediation. Today, the snippet of a children’s song that was the basso continuo for the run (“Vowels are important letters, there’s a vowel in every word”), the vigilance about my knees, and the fleeting thoughts and images that crossed my mind all cleared for a few climactic seconds, yielding “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Thanks, God.

"NO! I not gonna do it!"

It just struck me: Saddam Hussein is acting like a two-year-old.

How do you keep a child in bed who doesn’t want to be there? Persuasion isn’t effective; threats carry little weight (what does Saddam have to lose? He’s said he’s not afraid of execution); your last resort is force (the imprisonment of the crib railing, the shut door).

Rebellion in a two-year-old is a frightening preview of the impending teenager’s realization that no, we can’t truly stop you, or make you, or keep you in your bed if you don’t want to be there.

We asked for it.

Christmas Traditions

“Hey! Dat Panter up dere!”

And when the creche was set up and explained, “Yeah, dat Baby Judas.”

Not quite.

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