I've blogged before about the dog walkers around here. There's a core group of us who always walk our dogs, no matter what the season or weather. We all know each other by sight and sometimes by dog names. There's a lot of teasing that goes along with this companionship; I get heckled for walking so quickly, another dog-walker for his willingness to stop and talk to everyone and a third for somehow never remembering to bring along a plastic bag. With warmer weather, more dog walkers have headed out, but I expect most of them to disappear indoors come the heat of July.
My favorite is the man who loves to stop and chat. He's learned that I don't stop, so he'll do the laps around the block with me. He works full time, but also attends night school, so we heckle each other about teacher-student woes. We'd known each other about a year when we discovered each other's political leanings; I think we may be the only liberals around for miles. Last night we tried to solve the fiscal crisis confronting Indiana: education or medical care? We didn't come up with an answer, but it felt good to blow off a little steam.
Though my neighbors' political views sometimes drive me mad, I am very fortunate to live in a truly friendly community. If I fell ill, people would come by with casseroles, offers to walk Sam and general good wishes for my recovery. This wasn't all that unusual a hundred or so years ago, when members of a community knew that they depended quite intimately upon each other, but I think is much more rare today. Some of these neighbors know that I voted for Kerry and oppose the bans on civil unions, but it doesn't matter. We recognize and appreciate each other's good intentions. Oh, they may heckle me, but I know that I can heckle them and they'd still show up with chicken soup.
Oh, and to answer Topor's question - I struggle to balance being an instructor (lessons graded) and completing a dissertation (words written) that will qualify me to become a professor. There's great immidiate satisfaction in moving an essay into the "graded" pile and I am fond of getting a regular paycheck. On the other hand, the number of lessons graded per day, be it one or a hundred, gets me no closer to having Dr. in front of my name. Thus I try to keep a daily record of any "progress" made as I head closer to - er - the great cliff that is the academic profession.
Words Written: zero
Lessons Graded: eleven