Sunday, October 30, 2005
penance and syzygy
The penance is the hours of work I’ve put in this weekend so far. (Making up for my fun time during academic advising… sigh.) Syzygy is my new favorite vocab word. (It’s the time when the sun and moon line up with the Earth. Also called conjunction… expect high tides. And welcome to oceanography!)
I need to get better acquainted with syzygy and its friends before my next oceanography test on Thursday. (Okay, and it’s just fun to type.)
But despite my lack of productivity during academic advising last week, I think it still did some good, having that time off. Thursday was one of my best class days this semester (proof that I can be bribed)...
We started Adolescent Lit with hot chocolate, Krispy Kremes (I went for the pumpkin one… what else?), and music. There were poems taped up all over the room—when the wind blew it looked like something out of A Beautiful Mind... you know, those rooms that he covers with papers.
Anyway. The poems were quirky and funny, and we milled around with doughnuts, reading about comets and wounded cows, bus passes and lanterns. I realized how much I missed my Poetry Writing class last spring, and was promptly appeased by our own writing session. We worked with imagist poems (modeling our creations after Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”—I wrote about newspapers) and found poems.
Oddly enough, I had just heard about found poems in my Craft of Writing class. Essentially, you find a piece of writing (it can be prose, essay, or anything random—like the Library of Congress page, our Craft of Writing prof’s suggestion) and make a poem out of it. (Hence the name.) So I grabbed the hot chocolate tin and strung together a series of phrases from the little bits of paragraph strewn around the nutrition facts. Title: “Makes 39 Servings.” (Doesn’t it sound like a masterpiece? I was really glad I could work “sodium hexametaphosphate” into line eight. Both a first and last in my poetic career.)
Our writing projects were due in Craft of Writing, which meant that we took turns reading parts of our papers. It also meant we got food. (Plus I had Fish House coffee… so I was really content.) We spent the rest of the hour discussing, analyzing, and writing dialogue.
So I was cheerful and well-fed Thursday morning. Among the many things I love about the English department is how it ensures its writing students are not starving artists. (That can wait until after graduation.)
Off to Oceanography, where I learned about tides. But what intrigued me more than how the moon pulls on the water is how the moon pulls on the land. Evidently, the ground beneath us rises a foot as the full moon passes overhead—called “earth tide.” Also, the moon causes a slight drag on Earth’s rotation, which is slowing us down at about 1.5 milliseconds per century. (Our prof reassured us that we wouldn’t notice a difference in our lifetimes… I don’t know. I need all the extra time I can get. Darn moon.)
But isn’t that crazy? Just the idea of the ground lifting and the Earth slowing… Annie Dillard would have a field day. Maybe she’s already written about it.—jl