Sunday, March 01, 2009

Day of Rest

When I was a child, Sunday was the most fraught day of the week. We were up early and out in the dark morning to get to mass, where I would fight to stay awake during the homily. True, breakfast was excellent (made by my father or eaten at a diner), but after that you faced a long dark afternoon of golf on the TV or homework ignored since Friday.

Sunday is now the beginning of my weekend and the day when all my homework is due. I'm awake by 8, alternatively typing and scrubbing the apartment by 9, and usually ready to turn it all in by 3 or so. Nothing is better than being able to stay curled up in bed while turning in homework. No running around trying to locate a printer or tracking down a drop box for a professor. Few things in life are more satisfying than that that sweet little green checkmark indicating that you've made it in under the wire.

This Sunday I'm finishing one of my final five assignments for the quarter (infinitely less exciting that the BSG Final Five, but more useful in a library setting). It's still difficult to grasp that assignments and final projects do not have to be tense affairs with last minute Herculean trials and panic attacks. My mother noticed that my sister always did better in school during the volleyball season. There was something about the rigour of practices and games that made Kate focus up and plan things out. After the final game she would sink back into her old lethargy. Work and school might be producing the same effect for me. Or maybe I'm just older. I really hope it's not just because I'm older.

Last Sunday was infinitely more exciting than today. I finished my search assignment while watching an excellent and bizzare documentary on Henry Darger. He's billed as one of the big names in outsider art, but I think the documentary clearly shows that he never really thought of himself as an artist. He was creating his only world for sanity (though I suppose that can be an artistic drive as well). The conditions he grew up in - the poverty and the ignorant treatment of what was probably a very excitable and very intelligent young man - was appalling. Though I have to say I'm sure that the same conditions exist somewhere else today in the world. Reading authors like Dickens really builds up an appreciation for what childhood does for human in general, artists in particular. What if John Dickens had remained solvent? Would his son still have that drive, that never sated need to move and move? The Darger film made me think about my relation to Catholicism as well. Darger was as devout a Catholic as you could get - a continual presence at Mass, lead a chaste and humble life. His appeal to God for the return of a photo clipped from a newspaper and his belief that he was being punished when it didn't return reminded me of myself as a child. His devotion, his confidence in Heaven was that simple - not simplistic, but rather uncomplicated and true. As an adult with a liberal education and agnostic view on life, it's hard for me to imagine what that must be like. An 8 year-old girl to praying and fearing and believing with that level of intensity - that I can grasp. A 60 year-old man doing the same? That's somehow harder for me to wrap my head around and I can't help but think it's my fault.

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