Monday, September 03, 2007

I Blog Therefore I Am 

From Natala's front door
Which brings me to I Blog Not Therefore I Am Not?

Before we know it summer is over and autumn is here. Bill, Brizzie and I were able to take a mini-vacation in Carmel, a dog lover’s paradise on the California coast not far from us. We also attended a company picnic in the redwoods up in Hudart Park but decided to skip the Koi Pond tour as decidedly not our style. I drove down to Santa Barabara with Natala for a triathlon on the beach there, while visiting with Jenny. I’m spending Labor Day weekend with Natala. This is a picture from her front door. Seattle is balmy, sunny and clear right now. The little dog, Cuba and I walked the three mile perimeter of Green Lake while Natala ran the outer rim, training for her next triathlon.

Evergreen Valley community college officially starts its semester next week. I organized a tour to the Sikh Gurdwara San Jose for Professional Development Days and 5o came, even Bill. Here he is having a scarf from the Golden Temple tied on his head. Tina, Maggie, Helen and Sylvia--thank you!

Plans to attend my fiftieth high school reunion in Ooty are well underway. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Conoor and the Andamans all seem to have got thrown in.

The last month or two has been an emotional quagmire. After I returned from Australia, literally almost the day after, I submitted my application for my boss’s job. She had retired, amid fanfare, at the end of June and they opened up the position and upgraded it to a dean. Now where had I been for fifteen years? Wallowing in the doldrums of marginal academia; teaching semester after semester of a course I had developed since the emergence of the World Wide Web; actively supporting Asians (including South Asians) who represent forty-per cent of the student body at the college—I should have done more, I will do more! Serving on Committees, including many screening committees—defining who works at the college and that they are authentic people, capable of working within the system and of challenging it. Academic Senate, Budget, Staff and Professional Development, Facilities, Accreditation, Strategic Planning—I have contributed on all of them. And put in many hours at the Reference Desk.

To say nothing of the fact that I ran the East Palo Alto branch of the San Mateo County Library System for five years before that, and they were tough years. It was a store front in the Nairobi Shopping Center and I also volunteered with Nairobi College. I managed and renewed grants for hundreds of thousands of dollars doing innovative things that made national professional literature news. I worked in the jails as part of an extension to the main LSCA grant. We took a step van into the streets with relevant paperback books to share with five historical minority neighborhoods up and down the peninsula. I was the Africa and African American Literature specialist for San Mateo County and was often called upon to decipher knotty reference questions in my subject area. I supervised and published a book of African Names that was given a call number. I still have dear friends from that era in my life.

But the moving finger writes, and moves on. So now I am here and then I was there. And tomorrow I will be where? Transition and change come into one’s life unbidden and the more things change the more they stay the same. Cliché’s are not just clichés. The handwriting is on the wall, mene mene tekel upharsin, time to move on with my life.

Having suddenly realized, through a series of personal epiphanies, that I had forgotten my childhood memorization of the Twenty-Third Psalm, I proceeded to rememorize it. It is a promise—from God, the Goddess, and the Universe. I realize that:Kahili ginger in our backyard, thanks Paul

My cup runneth over.

I did not get that interim job. I do not know the reasons but I do know the future is bright.

Thou preparerest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:

And, further this psalm promises that--

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

Whatever those days are that are left. (The picture is of a Kahili ginger in bloom by our office window at home, visited by a hummingbird. Thanks, Paul) Promises of goodness and mercy are substantiated by the Jewish tradition of wearing a red band on the wrist, popularized by Madonna. I shall wear a red band—figuratively or literally. Music is always playing in the background but we can’t hear it because of the noise in our heads. Listen up!

I read the Bible in the King James Version through three times before I was twenty and studied the Bible as Literature at Queen Mary’s College, Madras University where I majored in English Literature. I also studied Shakespeare (annotated) for three years and Milton for two (line by line) and Astronomy as a minor. Then, I came to America and studied World Literature and Advanced Grammar before I went to Graduate School and got permanently locked into the role of Librarian. Not that I mind because I see the profession as all encompassing and Renaissance in its outlook but it does have its detractors and those who are uninformed who see only the stereotype, and that makes me sad. To the point then, I still love the lilting cadences of the KJV. But for those who are younger, less literary, more in the moment—here is a modern version.

The Lord is my pace setter, I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals. He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity.

It lacks something but you get the idea. The price of peace is eternal vigilance. This is not a cliché. Whether personal or International, to attain peace one must pay attention to it constantly, whether the war is in your head or in Iraq. Eternal vigilance.

As Deepak Chopra might say, I stand on the threshold of possibility.

Personal Notes: Natala is in a triathlon in Los Angeles next weekend and at the Black Diamond triathlon Sept 22nd near Enumelaw, WA. I’m sure she’ll twitter it! She’s also into Buffy the Vampire Slayer? What would Buffy Sainte-Marie think of that? Buffy2, of course, was on Sesame Street, 1976-1981. Sheila is busy completing her Master’s thesis. She got a nice upgrade recently at The Sandbox Studio. Jasmine, congratulations! Rumor has it that you have a new job at AKQA in Media? Jessica flew by to visit the Aalamis in Portola Valley this weekend and fortunately, Bill was able to see his grandchildren, too. Bill and Polly are getting ready to jack up their house which is leaning very slightly and cracked a window. They are also selling their ’62 convertible Volkswagen bug at The Samba.com. Eric is in Reno, Toronto, Miami and back to the country clubs area of Georgia—on this trip. Amy will be at a medical conference in San Francisco this week. We look forward to seeing baby Devin. What’s up with the rest of you? In Portland, Walla Walla, Brisbane or Eureka—write, call, come by. For our grandchildren and for Jenny who teaches Kindergarten (it was great visiting your classroom), here’s a website from the Goldfish for you: fishfulthinking.com Be Positive, say the fish.

And a quote: “Try to become not a man of success, but rather become a man of value”—Albert Einstein. Ha! Women have always known this. As if to prove the point and be both--a woman of success and value, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil at 72 is now the President of India. Another first. Her new address is: Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi. That’s India’s “White House”. The Prime Minister of India is still Dr. Manmohan Singh.

'Til next time, cheerio! Joy

Check my blog at http://www.joychase.blogspot.com and pictures of Natala's house on Flickr