Days of Confucianism, Nights of Tic-Tac-Toe

This blog and its writer remain locked in the icy grip of the end-of-semester crunch.

But there is hope: yesterday I started a new freelance project that’s going well, got a dandy of a Blue Banner assignment interviewing a wild-haired, piano-playing professor, and at last forced myself, yes, to start the 5-page Humanities term paper which makes 20 percent of my final grade. And which, at least, is on a subject that interests me tremendously, Confucian bureaucracy.

How I love the idea of just and moral poet-politicians! Memory and ritual. Loyalty and piety. Rectitude and benevolence. I would have fit right in, or at least been happy trying.

Last night I wrote my paper’s introduction and first point wonderfully quickly and cleanly (“once begun, half done”), and found myself done with the day’s activity before 8 p.m. for the first time in weeks.

I turned off the monitor with a flood of relief, knowing I had a few hours in which to be a human being at last.

I retired to the sofa, picked up the big blanket I am knitting to eat up the old cheap and colorful acrylic yarn I no longer have any interest in, popped in Disney’s Treasure Planet and spent a few quiet hours resting mind and body.

Housemate Don stepped out to do something musical.

“You’re watching Treasure Planet,” he said, having watched it with his daughters a few nights ago.

“Yes,” I said. “The excitement here never ends.”

Don’s daughters, who visit every so often, are adorable. Sweet, well-behaved, giggly, pretty girls, 6 and 9, who are playful and silly and very pleasant to have in the house.

I had to study the other night for a political science test covering a multitude of subjects, and was interrupted every so often by a six-year-old who wanted to play Spongebob Squarepants tic-tac-toe with me.

I am used to quiet and peace when I work. It’s the obvious thing, I think, to imagine me huffy and annoyed at a new spate of frequent interruptions.

But think again.

Imagine yourself glued to a chair for hours on end and days on end, studying and writing and writing and studying. You eat your dinner from the microwave; you take your pay not only in money but in realizing your friendships are suffering. Tomorrow you will be at school at nine in the morning and at the computer until 9 or 10 p.m.

In the middle of your long worknight, a very sweet and pretty child wants to show you her stuffed animal and play tic-tac-toe.

You will find you are not annoyed.

The work takes a bit longer with occasional breaks for visiting with a six-year-old, but the load feels lighter. As an added bonus, you can now throw a game of tic-tac-toe very convincingly.


I expect to have a semi-normal life (more time for things other than work and school) sometime next week. Until then, have some Chet Raymo (a dish I always enjoy): the blog entry from which I get this blog’s new tagline.

3 responses to “Days of Confucianism, Nights of Tic-Tac-Toe

  1. That long-haired, piano playing professor dude lives behind me and chain smokes at all hours on his back stoop. He keeps my hood from becoming a retirement home for aged, former Stepford wives and their housebound Vietnam vet husbands, and for that I have to thank him. I have a funny story about him I’ll have to tell you sometime. . .

  2. OMG. Seamus McNerney?

    Can I quote you? I do not have to use your name, do not have to mention he lives behind you, and can call you “a neighbor who asked that her name not be used”…

  3. PS I am open to the funny story anytime, SWE…

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