The sun came out today, in brief little peeks anyway. It was a nice contrast to the past five (six?) days of misty gloominess. It’s been dark, cold and damp.
The trees on Mass Ave., the main street in my neighborhood, seem to have gone from green to instant brown. All of the sudden there are leaves tumbling to the sidewalk. They lay, scattered, like fallen prey.
Downtown, the trees are fiery reds and oranges amid the slow-turning greens. Yesterday I took a brief walk through a corner of the Common while I was waiting for a friend. Mostly, I just wanted to watch the squirrels. They swarm the grass in the park, hundreds of them. I’ve never seen such fat, efficient squirrels. They hunt for nuts and other food in the grass, almost grazing, like cows. They nuzzle under leaves and twigs and bits of trash. My favorite part is when they stand on their hind legs and survey the area; their little paws hang down loose and they sniff and scan. Sometimes one of these surveyors will spy another squirrel and tear off after the rival playfully.
In class recently someone mentioned reading a story in the Beacon Hill newspaper about squirrels double teaming a mother and her two kids, who were in a stroller on the Common. A pair of squirrels apparently leapt through the air toward their target; one landed on the mother’s leg, the other on one of the babies in the carriage. No harm done, but the point of the story was that people shouldn’t feed the squirrels. Of course, people still feed the squirrels. On my walk I saw a woman offer a squirrel food out of her hand. If you simply stand near a group of squirrels (yes, there are actually packs of squirrels on the Common) and cluck, they run toward you hopefully. I saw a man do this; soon he had one squirrel sniffing his hand from a fence post and another on his leg.
I still find them endearing, despite this.
On the T tonight, doors on a couple of the cars were broken so everyone had to cram into just a few cars. The train driver kept getting on the intercom to explain and reassure everyone. He sounded nervous and agitated each time he spoke. And, like all good T drivers, he had a strong Boston accent. So we got messages like this: “Excuse me, please board the train on cahs one and foah. Theah’s another train right behind this one. We got trains one, bing, bing, bing, like that. Right after this one.”
In class tonight, my professor made this statement: “I don’t read postmodern novels.”
When he wasn’t making ridiculous pronouncements, he handed back our papers. I really struggled over this one. I hoped only to escape having to re-write it because it was so bad. If I managed to get a C or a B, I was going to be thrilled. It was just awful. I knew what was wrong with it when I wrote it, but wasn’t quite sure what to do about that. Well, that’s not entirely true. I didn’t know if I could choose something really original and contrary for my thesis and get away with it. So I picked the obvious thesis and regurgitated what we’d discussed in class. I know that sounds dumb and the antithesis of education. I really didn’t believe that this professor, who has a ton of opinions (see above) would tolerate any that were different from his own. That’s what came through in class. So that’s what I did. What kills me is that I had originally started the paper differently. I came up with an original, somewhat contrary thesis. And then I chickened out. If I had only stuck with it, I might have done better. But the truth is, I didn’t do that badly. This professor doesn’t give grades, he gives numbers on a scale from 0 to 4. Zero is considered adequate (B) and four is considered to be excellent work, (an A). So first of all, the lowest you could get is a B! I was so relieved. I mean, I don’t really care, that much. I knew this one was bad and that I would probably do better the next time. That was my attitude going in. But I got a two, not a zero. I am fairly shocked, but still relieved on some level.
And finally, I am still pulling for a Red Sox sweep. So far, things are going my way.