Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thinker, sailor, soldier on and don't cry

These two are the totems of my table. The teacup, well, of course, always on hand. The wee Thinker — I bought him at a sidewalk market last fall. Deeply entrenched in graduate study, I looked at him and knew I needed his encouragement, his example. He sits by my computer, frozen in thought, as I hunch forward and crank the gears of my own creaky brain, analyzing research and cobbling together my own. Like a Buddha's belly, I sometimes rub his head for good luck before firing up Google Scholar and EndNote. Often, he's staring down into the tea cup, and I pity him because he looks like he'd love a cup.

My brain literally hurts. I've been away from this blog a short while (sorry, life happens), swamped by one of the busiest seasons I've experienced in a long, long time. Craziness at work, three grad classes, a personal life woven in there somewhere. I think back to a wealth of languid days last year, of afternoon teas that stretched on for hours (thank heavens for that well-insulated silver teapot of my grandmother's) — they seem like a dream. Thank heaven tea is as much a fuel for brain work as it is a social lubricant and a meditation for stolen moments. Those that I manage to steal nowadays are priceless.

I'm not complaining; you're busy, too, likely busier. I know so many unjustly laid-off people — busy is fine, busy is good, busy is a blessing I count every panicky morning. It feels great to have wind in my sails, even if I've no idea where I'm headed or how to get all this cargo home. Surely Robert Fortune had a few such moments.

(Forgive the dreadful pun in this post's title.)

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