Tuesday, June 6, 2017

June 6: A Great Comfort, Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of, Graded Essays

"He's engaged to a very rich girl," said Billy's mother.

"That's good," said Rosewater.  "Money can be a great comfort sometimes."

"It really can."

"Of course it can."

"It isn't much fun if you have to pinch every penny till it screams."

"It's nice to have a little breathing room."

"Her father owns the optometry school where Billy was going.  He also owns six offices around our part of the state.  He flies his own plane and has a summer place up on Lake George."

"That's a beautiful lake."

Billy feel asleep under his blanket.  When he woke up again, he was tied to the bed in the hospital back in prison.  He opened one eye, saw poor old Edgar Derby reading The Red Badge of Courage by candlelight.

Billy closed that one eye, saw in his memory of the future poor old Edgar Derby in front of a firing squad in the ruins of Dresden.  There were only four men in that squad.  Billy had heard that one man in each firing squad was customarily given a rifle loaded with blank cartridge.  Billy didn't think there would be a blank cartridge issued in a squad that small, in a war that old.

Rosewater is humoring Billy's mother at the beginning of this passage when he says that money can be "a great comfort."  Rosewater is in a hospital ward because he is suffering from a mental illness.  Whether he has money or not, Rosewater would still be suffering from a mental illness.  Money cannot change that fact.  Rosewater knows that no amount of cash will heal his broken mind.

I spend a great deal of time thinking about having extra money.  I think everybody who struggles with finances fantasizes about some rich unknown relative dying, leaving them a million-dollar inheritance.  As Humphrey Bogart said in The Maltese Falcon, "It's the stuff that dreams are made of."  In my mind, I know that money doesn't mean happiness.  However, in my heart, I want the opportunity to put that little kernel of wisdom to the test.

I am at the beginning of the third week of teaching an online writing class.  The grading is insane.  Every day, I sit down and go over papers and discussion forum posts and e-mails.  I am trying to be really diligent in my teaching duties.  I don't want my students to say in their evaluations that I wasn't available or helpful.  Thus, my grading turnaround is two or three days at the most.  And I'm getting really tired. 

It's all about the money, though.  My family needs it, so I will grade and grade and grade.  Money, for me, really isn't about happiness.  It's about peace of mind.  I hate worrying about bills all the time.  I don't need hundreds of thousands of dollars in income (although I wouldn't turn it down).  No, I need enough money simply not to struggle on a daily basis.  If I had that, I would be happy.

However, unless a goose flies over my head and shits out a couple of golden eggs (or winning lottery tickets), I see a whole lot of grading in my future.  And that's okay.  I enjoy teaching.  That's a blessing.  It makes the hours sitting with a laptop computer on my legs not exactly enjoyable, but not so bad.

I am done with schoolwork for the day.  Now, I can relax a little bit.  Read something.  Write something.  Watch a good movie.  Play with my son.  That really is what makes life worthwhile. 

Saint Marty is thankful this afternoon for graded essays.

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