One yo-yo at a time

“So You Are Here — Don’t Worry.” That was the title of the Rev. Peter Gomes’ lecture Sunday at Harvard’s Memorial Church.

Worry about big things, he told us, like what you’re going to do with your life. Don’t worry about whether the person sitting next to you is smarter, or better published, or if they have the world’s most fabulous hair.

Anyone who knows me can see why I was compelled to attend church for the first time in many months. Worry is my middle name. Also, my first and last. I come from a long line of worriers, with one form of anxiety disorder or another being passed down through the generations, not unlike the premature gray hair, hyper-ticklish feet and a propensity for beer. Judging from my incredibly astute fellow fellows — who asked so many questions at orientation, I could’ve sworn we were at  a press conference harvard1 005— I’m definitely not alone.

The all-you-can-eat buffet that is the Nieman Fellowship presents a whole new boatload of worries, the main one being: I want to squeeze the most of out these 10 months, but I also want to relax, make new friends and have a really good time. Also, lose 15 pounds. . . though, given the state of the buffet (Nieman motto: A Dessert must follow every meal), there’s a fat, fat chance of that.

So do I sign up for Michael Sandel’s ethic class, which I know I should, or do I take the New Yorker writer James Wood’s class on post-war fiction, which sounds infinitely more fun? (They’re both offered at the same time.)

Sociology of the black community or women and religion? Narrative writing or introduction to health-care policy?

Drawing or science of the brain?

This weekend, our surrogate daughter/little-sister/former babysitter/best pal Rose is visiting, and we’re going to see “The Donkey Show,” a rendering of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” set to disco music where the audience must dance as part of the show. (Cringe, Connie, cringe.)

Next week, the boys start school — and not a second too soon! They are very bored and need to make some friends; otherwise, we may have to sew the cell phone onto lonely Max’s ear. Will’s best friend in Cambridge so far is his new yo-yo. (He’s now on his third.)

The yo-yo master at work in front of our house.

The yo-yo master at work in front of our house.

We’re having a great time, but it seems that life in Roanoke is carrying on without us: How is it that the newspaper is still publishing every day? How is it that we missed Chris’ goofy-song concert, Ed’s birthday party and the soiree for Dan’s retirement?

We miss our sweet, dumb dog Lucky, who heard Will’s voice on a video online yesterday and, according to the inlaws who are watching him for us till October, he came running and wagged his tail. (Maybe he’s smarter than we give him credit for.)

I haven’t figured out exactly what courses I’m taking yet; they give you a week to “shop” them, so I’ve still got time to decide.

Till then, I’ll quell my worries with some writing — and living — advice by E.L. Doctorow via Anne Lamott:

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

One class, one question, one yo-yo at a time.

Leave a comment


  1. Evelyn

     /  September 21, 2009

    Well? What’s the final decision re: class schedule? It doesn’t sound like any of the above. This is my personal definition of hell: so many delicious things to choose from, you can’t make up your mind. I think I would have exploded.

    It sounds INCREDIBLE!!!! And like you’re already owning B-town.

  2. Betsy Bannan

     /  September 1, 2009

    Drawing!! Take Drawing!!

  3. Tonia Moxley

     /  September 1, 2009

    I can answer all those questions for you. First, choose the classes for FUN. This Harvard. You go for the FUN, right? 🙂

    Here would be my class schedule:

    post-war fiction
    sociology of the black community
    introduction to health-care policy
    drawing — just because I can’t and I wonder if Harvard is so good, they could teach me.

    Have a wonderful time, gang.

  4. Kurt

     /  August 31, 2009

    What an adventure – go for the gusto! Thinking about you and Tom and all the new things you’re doing – best wishes – sounds like a good start….except for that church thing….

  5. Another Annie Lamotte quote for you.
    “My mind is a very bad neighborhood. I don’t like to go there alone.”
    Thanks for the updates and for sharing your mind (and worries). The quote of course refers to my mind, not yours.

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