Snow Day: A flurry of flaky thoughts

The outdoors has been transformed into a wintry wonderland; the North Country–at last–looks like its January self again. The upstairs bathroom–adjacent to my attic bedroom–has been transformed into my study. (Still kind of private but a little less cold.) Until one of my sisters (it’ll probably be Emma) frantically pounds on the door to get in and shower or something. For now, the closed toilet lid is my very unromantic desktop, and the side of the tub my unyielding seat.

I was relieved when my mom came into my attic this morning, bringing boxes of Christmas decorations to put away, and announced that it was a snow day. Well, I inferred that it was a snow day. What she actually said was to quote what my dad (a teacher) had apparently written on a note to all of us this morning: “Todd Green, he’s our man! If he can’t do it, no one can!”

Todd Green is the school superintendent. That fact, combined with my memory of the weather forecast from the night before, yielded a correct and favorable conclusion: “We have a snow day today?” I asked Mom. She confirmed.

Even though I am just a substitute teacher, and never actually obligated to go to school if I don’t want (and haven’t previously committed to subbing on a given day), an official snow day declaration is still highly welcome news to me; because if I am called into sub, then most days I still feel obligated to go to school and earn some money, even if I’m not actually obligated to go…and let me confess to you: I detest subbing. It is soul-crippling, in multiple ways.

But that is a different subject altogether, and not one worth dwelling on further today. Besides, I thankfully won’t be subbing much longer at all – I just officially accepted a job offer last week, and will be moving downstate next month to begin my first ever “real” full-time job. “Real” meaning salaried; not volunteer or stipend-ed. (Hallelujah!) And after that, I hope to NEVER sub again in my life. Ever. (Lord-willing.)

In the meantime, however, the dilemma persists: how to fill the hours until then. One can only read so much. And (neglected good intentions of watching a bunch of TED’s and documentaries aside) binge-watching BBC shows and movies and Youtube clips interviewing actors and authors is soul-crippling in other ways, not to mention not so great for the body.

“What you do to your body you do to your soul.” I’ve heard this propositioned before as something to consider before one gets a tattoo. “Does that mean that my soul is 20 pounds overweight?” my Mennonite pastor asked when I repeated this quote to him. Good question. Speaking of tattoos and such, this pastor–who I think highly skilled in diplomacy and seeing multiple sides to a matter–has used the metaphor of our bodies as fancy sports cars more than once, “And you don’t put bumper stickers on a Ferrari.” A good point. Although, as I realized later, one does put bumper stickers on Subarus, and for my part, I would much rather be a Subaru than a Ferrari.

Overall, I find myself generally neutral on the matter of tattoos, at least on other people. Personally is a different matter. (And also a different subject.) So what is my subject today? Good question. Is it Snow Days?

The thing about snow days, and about every day, is that my thoughts tend to fly around in stormy, often fluffy flurries, scattering everywhere and covering a lot of ground. Sometimes they seem beautiful when you just let them lie where they fall; but if one gets overly ambitious, poking around with mental snow shovels and (heaven forbid) plowing through with mechanical snow-blowers, which are forever breaking-down (at least in this household), where one would do best not to meddle at all, and rather leave things untouched and undisturbed, well — then, things get a little less seemly. Gravel and dirt and occasionally even dog crap gets turned up. But at least one can get out the driveway with that bumper-stickered Subaru. As I did when I drove over to the house of our closest (and my oldest) friends this afternoon. Our scanner hasn’t worked in years, and believe it or not, my new employer needs definite proof that I am not a criminal; such things require signed forms. I didn’t mind. It was a good excuse to sit with Maribel for an hour or so, and talk, over coffee, of the things middle-aged mother figures usually discuss with their young and still-single daughter-figures — namely marriage and career paths.

A Poetry Foundation Poem of the Day from the other day that I’ve been holding onto, in mental conjunction with the words of Richard Rohr, “What You Seek Is What You Are,” which arrived in my inbox from the Center for Action and Contemplation on the same day as the poem, “Pursuits” by Heather Christle:

It is not that you want
to be the one to make prints
in the untrampled snow
It is that you want
to be in the snow
without having touched it
to be of  the snow
not beginning
Everywhere commerce
dictates the shapes
that move you along
that seat you at the table
far from the snow
far from the act
of not touching
It only gets worse
A girl’s gotta eat
And your hunger’s
not even your own

Honestly, I’m getting the feeling that a large part of this poem’s meaning is still eluding me. But I think I’m nearer than when I first read it a few days ago. And I like it, though I’m not entirely sure why. And it seemed appropriate to share on a snowy Snow Day like today. (A true aside this time: I also just noticed as I was typing the poet’s name above that her surname has “Christ” in it; that’s kind of cool. I don’t know if it’s really significant at all, in fact I think it’s probably not, but I did notice it, and am noting it here. Obviously. Make of it what you will, or just pass on over it.)

One other random flurry of thought that I wanted to share somewhere on SM, and thought that perhaps here was a better place for it than FB, which is already glutted with more than enough white noise, too much of it contributed by yours truly. The flurry is this: Earlier today, two of my sisters were blasting Disney music downstairs as they stripped the Christmas tree of decorations, and the song “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid came on. Sitting on the couch in my pajamas, a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and hot mug of coffee cradled in hand (yes – snow days are also over-indulge in coffee days), and listening to Ariel croon the words, “Ready to stand. And ready to know what the people know. Ask them my questions and get some answers: What’s a fire, and why does it – what’s the word – buuurrrnn?,” it struck me that the heroine mermaid doesn’t want to get legs to get a boy so much as she does a college education, or a more formal intellectual education of any kind. AND, I thought (not for the first time), how significant is it that the villain of the story strips Ariel of her voice, reducing her to her looks and “bo-dy laaanguage,” crooned, in turn, seductively by that repulsive sea-witch, in order to catch her man? Quite symbolically significant, I thought. Golly, feminism is everywhere! These thoughts also turned into a good occasion to introduce my youngest sister to the heavily-loaded word “marginalization.” Hope my mom, who I think caught just the tail-end of that explanation, doesn’t think I’m trying to radicalize her or anything. That’d be an interesting family discussion. It’d fit right in with our usual chaotic dinner routine. I should bring it up tonight.

For now, I think I’ll clean up the bathroom a bit and keep listening to The Brilliance on Spotify. And maybe go outside again a bit later and just revel in all the snow…there is So. Much. When Emma and I carried the tree out from the back porch to the compost pile earlier today, the snow was nearly to my knees.

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