On Longevity and Other Matters

Self knows this: there’s nothing better than coffee at 7:49 in the morning. The icon for weather alerts that self installed on her desktop is blinking, and when self examines it she sees there’s a severe weather alert for (holds her breath) San Luis Obispo, California (!!!). And here is the confirmation that son, like self, has genius intuition: because he’s 3000 miles away this morning, in New York City.

Today hubby has to work and soon self will go to Safeway to get soft drinks and the New York Times, and who knows what we’ll do this evening but there are already two bottles of Moet and Chandon chilling in the fridge.

Self’s looking over latest newsletter from the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford. It’s been over 20 years since she got her degree, and she notes with interest the places where the recent graduates have gone or will be going, and here’s an abbreviated list:

Dept. of History, Chapman University; Linguistics, Cal State Fresno; Political Science, University of Alberta; Political Science, National Chengchi University, Taiwan; Political Science, UC Berkeley; Sociology, Texas A & M University; Japanese, Wesleyan; Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Thailand

On the Faculty News page, self sees the names of two professors she studied under and who she presumed had long ago passed on to the great beyond (but no, such is the longevity of Stanford professors — both are still very much alive and kicking and in fact have just published books) :

    Michael Sullivan, from whom self took three courses in Chinese painting, has just published Modern Chinese Artists: A Biographical Dictionary (University of California Press)
    Makoto Ueda, professor of Japanese, has a book forthcoming from Stanford University Press: Concealment of Politics, Politics of Concealment: The Production of “Literature” in Meiji Japan.

Furthermore, in April of 2007, Prof. Daniel Okimoto of Political Science was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, one of Japan’s most prestigious honors. And Michael Armacost, whose wife Bonnie is one of Dearest Mum’s closest friends, has received something else called The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun, which award was presented to him by no less a personage than Emperor Akihito, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

And then here is a picture of dear old fun-loving professor Susan Matisoff, who looks exactly the same as she did when self was in grad school (which leads self to surmise that having a Stanford professorship is probably the cheapest way to ensure absence of wrinkles), and she is surrounded by these other professors who self has known:

Tom Hare, now at Princeton; and Beth Carey, former Assistant Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, who wrote a book on geishas which self thinks was infinitely better than the one that was made into a movie (because Carey’s book was true), and who also translated the novels of a Japanese mystery writer whose name this morning completely escapes self.

And then, finally, in alumni news:

    Chris Armacost moved to Tokyo.
    Amy Borovoy published The Too-Good Wife: Alcohol, Codependency, and the Politics of Nurturance in Postwar Japan (University of California Press, 2005)
    Sabina Chen became Executive Director of the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco. (Congrats, Sabina!)
    Shari Epstein became Dean of Academic Affairs at Dharma Realm Buddhist University, which is in “The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas,” which contrary to self’s expectations is not in Nepal or Tibet or any other place in central Asia, but is conveniently located near the city of Ukiah in northern California.
    Robert Corrigan became head of the Man Group in London, which is in charge of awarding the Man Asian Literary Prize. (!!!!) — Darn, if self had only known Rob would end up there, she would have made sure to engage in more idle chit-chat with him in hallowed corridors of the Stanford Quad.

Self now needs time to digest all these various surprises.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Walking the Dogs in the Cold: Sunday, 30 December 2007

First, a news item that has just come to my notice: Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice had her designer clothes stolen Dec. 20 from a dressing room in Germany. (And the reason self knows is because someone googled “clothes stolen” and landed on self’s blog, so self herself tried the search, and voila . . . )

* * * *

There is a poem I love in Louise Gluck’s Averno. By coincidence or maybe not, it’s called “Landscape,” and begins:

    The sun is setting behind the mountains,
    the earth is cooling,
    A stranger has tied his horse to a bare chestnut tree,
    The horse is quiet — he turns his head suddenly,
    hearing, in the distance, the sound of the sea.

Yesterday my husband walked the dogs without me. Today, he was heading out the door with them when I said, Wait.

It was cold. The Christmas decorations in our neighbors’ leaf-strewn front yards were starting to blink on. Gracie, propelled by some compulsive fury, pulled and tugged hard at her leash and I could barely restrain her. A man came up and asked us if we had seen his dog, a small black Chihuahua. Regretfully, we shook our heads.

Gluck’s poem continues:

    I make my bed for the night here,
    spreading my heaviest quilt over the damp earth.

As soon as we walked in the door, I fed the dogs. Afterwards, they headed straight for their pillows: they’re now, both of them, in deep slumber.

Husband seems at a loss. Perhaps it’s because the weekend is finally over? We didn’t know it before the walk but now that we’re home we know it. He sits and looks at the TV and then wanders off to the bedroom and I can hear him moving around in there, arranging things on his desk. On the TV Matt Damon as Jason Bourne points a snub-nosed handgun at a dapper man in a dark suit. There’ll be a fight scene soon, one I look forward to seeing again.

And here’s Gluck again:

    The sound of the sea —
    when the horse turns its head, I can hear it.

    On a path through the bare chestnut trees,
    a little dog trails its master.

    The little dog — didn’t he used to rush ahead,
    straining the leash, as though to show his master
    what he sees there, there in the future —

    the future, the path, call it what you will.

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