Settling into the office to do a bit of writing, but realized I needed to write here as well, because it’s been a bit too long. So here we go…
It’s a lovely weekend here in Mondoville, which worked out nicely because yesterday was Homecoming. I ambled over to campus to see the parade and some of my former students (and in some cases, their kids.) We had to forgo the event last year — another casualty of the pandemic — so it was especially pleasant to see another step toward something normal. (And for those of you keeping score at home, I was boosted about ten days ago, and have experienced no side effects to this ijuhbs wmfhsx%. Bargle nowdle zouss. Fleen.)
Sorry about that. Anyway, I spent some time with a couple of recent grads and their kids, and then retreated to my office for a few minutes between the end of the parade and the beginning of the game, which pitted the Mighty Men of Mondoville against the Eagles of Carson-Newman University. When I began my career here in the fall of 2003, Newberry was just beginning to stir from its traditional position as conference doormat. We were everyone’s homecoming date, whom opponents could count on to lose by a sufficient margin to please the alumni. Carson-Newman, on the other hand, was a traditional football power in the region, with a history of championships that extended back at least a couple of decades.
But a lot can change in nearly twenty years. We’ve picked up a couple of conference championships and made it to the NCAA playoffs a couple of times in recent years, while CNU has slumped dramatically in recent years, particularly since the departure of its longtime coach Ken Shields and his archaic but effective Veer offense. Things were no better for the visiting Eagles last night, as Newberry won a convincing 34-3 decision. One of the consequences of this is that in two weeks, we’ll face Wingate University in what may well determine the conference championship.
After the game, I had enough time to walk home before a brief fireworks display wrapped up the day’s events. Since I live more-or-less within the campus footprint, Mrs. M and I were able to see the fireworks from our driveway, and we even managed to include the Spawn with an online feed. [Side note: one of the Newberry homecoming traditions is for all alums in attendance to gather on the portico of the admin building for a picture. Since the Spawn is in Terpville, Mrs. M suggested that I stand in for her, but I demurred. Still, I’m glad we could show her the fireworks. End of side note.]
Another highlight of the day was the announcement that the college received a substantial gift from an anonymous donor, which will go toward improving the stadium. That’s a plus — our stadium is the oldest in South Carolina, and it shows every minute of its age. I hope I won’t be seen as ungrateful, though, if I hope they can come up with some fresh plaster (or at least some spackling compound) to cover the crack that extends along two walls of my office. A man can dream.
As I mentioned, I walked to and from yesterday’s events, which I saw as a cause for celebration. I’ve noted in previous entries that my knee has been particularly troublesome in recent months. On Friday I swung by the orthopedist’s to have things checked out; it had been a couple of years since my previous visit. I got a fresh set of X-rays, and the doctor told me that I have “terrible” arthritis in the right knee, and that he’s replaced knees in better shape than mine.
However, he said that since I still seem to be pretty functional (i.e., the pain doesn’t keep me from sleeping, I can climb stairs and get out of bed and suchlike), and since I’m only 56, we should continue to try to manage things with cortisone shots for the time being — even if I have to do them at shorter intervals than I’m used to. And to prove the point, I got a fresh shot there in the office.
And you know what? It seems to have worked. The pain is substantially less, and I walked to campus and back with no problems yesterday. Sure, I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies as I amble around, but as long as the pain generally stays at nuisance levels, rather than genuinely problematic ones, I guess it’ll do. Admittedly, I come from a line of people who place a premium on the ability to endure this kind of thing, and that may skew my own perspective on these matters: “Well, it isn’t like I’m taking care of an invalid while both my knees are shot (like my grandfather did in his 70s), or going back to work the day after a heart attack (like my mom did).” It’s hard to know sometimes where the line is between hardiness, foolhardiness, common sense, and wimpiness.
I’ve sent a couple of stories into the world in the past week, including one I had been working on for a while. I’ve got another one I need to put together in the coming days, but I’m pretty optimistic about it.
In the meantime, I’ll be doing a reading this Wednesday night in Real City. I’ll be closing Columbia’s first Noir at the Bar, at the Aristocrat downtown. But don’t worry — there’ll be plenty of other fine writers there, and we could all use your support. Come out if you can; I’d love to see you!
(Once again, I don’t usually use the academic title with my fictioneering work — or anywhere else off-campus — but it was nice of the organizers to throw it in.)
And let’s wrap this one up with some Halloween-appropriate music. The Chills formed in 1980, in Dunedin, New Zealand. The band continues to this day, despite something of a revolving door policy. The constant in the band is guitarist and vocalist Martin Phillips, who wrote this creepy little tale about a man who, while asleep, kills his lover. The neo-psychedelic vibe contributes to the sense of bad dreams, but I dig it, and hope you will as well. Recorded in 1982 (but released in 1984, by which time drummer Mark Bull had died of leukemia), this is “Pink Frost.”
See you soon!