Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Month of Reading Exclusively

I'm pleased to report that, with the temperature hovering around 20 F, I just got back from a run in shorts. The kids around campus double-taked and catcalled, but that's what you get for hanging out with teenagers. I'm sure it wasn't earnest, given the pasty complexion of a runner's legs in February.

It's been a hard sell, getting my running legs back this year. 'Cross season still feels like it ended only a few weeks ago, and I'm coming to terms with the truth that, in triathlon, there really isn't an off-season. A few weeks of skiing and then back to it. Problem is, around here, outdoor riding is a bit out of the questions, I swim in a 3-lane pool at a motel (!), and there are about two running routes not totally iced over at the moment. HTFU, you say? It's not a question of toughening up, I think (hey, I just went running in shorts, remember), but it's a matter of retaining my enjoyment for these three sports. I've watched, over the past few weeks, all the Paris-Roubaix races between 1996 and 2002 (Johan Museeuw won three of 'em, but it turns out he had more drugs in him than a Vassar freshman at the Homo Hop), ran on a treadmill twice, and been reduced to using an elliptical machine before my buddy Noah showed up and shamed me out onto the dark roads without a headlamp.

It'll all be fine in a month, when bike season gets going, or when I head south to spend 10 days with J. Dukes in Charlottesville.

Until then, I've embarked, to save my sanity through madness, on one of the great reading months of my life. My juniors, see, are designing their own unit during February. I've got two sections of the little buggers, and it's almost impossible to get 14 sixteen year-olds to agree upon one book, so those two sections split into a total of five groups. Their choices reflect the kind of marvelous schizophrenia of high school juniors:

Dune, Frank Herbert (thank god this is better than the godawful movie—David Lynch's worst)
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (I liked this book better when I first read it, back in HS—now it seems to me that every slightly non-savory character is given a non-white, non-American male differentiation, and that the aliens, the buggers, have a name just a bit too close to another, not-too-distant racial slur)
Ender's Shadow (never read this, but the group reading Ender's Game really needed to read something else, since you can get through EG in about 45 minutes; not sure if I'm looking forward to it)
The Inferno (I told you they were schizoid)
The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks and
Stiff, the Curious Lives of Cadavers, my Molly Roach (yes, Roach).

Yup, those are my juniors, morbid sci-fi freaks. My life, for the moment, has become a pretty awesome monastery of reading, teaching, and training. The best part about the classes, though, is that I only have to read the books; they have to do all the discussing. They're getting better.

Headed off to swim.

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