We’re in the middle of a move and have been, consequently, painting, cleaning, and laying tiles in our new house. This is exciting, but leaves me little time for luxuries like blog posts when I have work to do that makes me money. I’ve shelved all my blog ideas and am sharing a couple points of interest from the last week:
First moment: I read an article about Joy Harjo’s appointment as the US Poet Laureate, the first Native American to achieve this. She’s achieved a lot more than this in her lifetime, to be honest. As a jazz saxophonist, a writer, and a teacher, she’s garnered an impressive list of accolades. But my interest in this latest achievement is more personal because she was one of my writing professors at UNM.
When I signed up for one of her classes, I had no idea what I was getting into. My method for taking classes was to let my own schedule determine them and to call it “fate”. I was a busy homeschool mom; I didn’t have the time or luxury to take pleasure classes. I suppose a poetry class might be considered a “pleasure” class, but it simply fulfilled a requirement for my degree.
While familiar with Joy Harjo, I didn’t anticipate constantly butting heads with her, which is what happened. Our visions are entirely different — hers obviously a little more expansive than mine, as she’s quite accomplished at her craft and I’m not. But I would guess it was our personalities that clashed. I’m a stingy curmudgeon; she’s not. She’s interactive with other humans; I’m not. She’s a political progressive; I’m not. I should qualify that last statement. She’s anything but an average progressive because her feminism and political beliefs are influenced by the experience of her people, the Muscogee Creek. This is going to put her odds with standard progressivism in this country…but standard progressives tend to be very out-of-touch with the very people they presume to stand for.
It was a fascinating trip, to say the least. Ultimately, though, despite our differences, she was very kind and generous to me. She’s generous to all her students, giving them one-on-one conferences to discuss their writing and vision. I doubt anyone leaves her classes without being challenged. She leaves her mark, that’s for sure.
Second moment: One of my longest-time friends landed a job in publishing. It’s not just any publishing house, however, but one known for academic Christian work. More recently, the imprint has expanded to fiction, and my friend is now working for the fiction line, which is very appropriate for her. It’s been a number of years since I was able to see her — right before moving to Roswell, to be exact, which is about five years. And even then, we only had time to go out for wine and a snack at happy-hour; my husband had already arranged a dinner date with someone else.
Recently, we’ve talked on the phone a couple of times because she was the kind, enthusiastic friend I discussed here who filled out my convalidation paperwork. After talking for a few hours via phone, she put me on her potential reviewer list, and then proceeded last week to send me a couple of review books and a couple of birthday-present books. In the middle of crunch time on our new house, my husband sent me back to the residence we’re moving out of to fetch needful things (you know, needful things like stepstools and tools), but I also discovered book packages in my mailbox.
There is nothing like the elation of unwrapping physical books from mailing envelopes. Nothing. And I say this as a hardcore Kindle ebook reader. The first book I pulled out was one I’d been wanting to read since she’d recommended it to me: Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion by Abigail Rine Favale. I started that one first, too. I have a lot to say about this book. I can’t wait to review it, but I’m not quite done with it. Some of the author’s story is very familiar to my own conversion story (albeit, mine is a not-quite-yet story). But more than that, it’s a story very relevant to our times and what happens to unmoored evangelicals when they enter the academic sphere.
If you want to know more about the friend I’ve left unnamed in this post, you can read this one. Sallie (that’s her name) is in a number of my coffee memoirs, but this one is specifically about her. I apologize for the bad formatting; a lot of my older posts were transported from an old blog to this one and look wonky. Occasionally, I fix one, but it’s not worth my time right now.