Nothing Pleases Me
By Mahmoud Darwish
Translated by Fady Joudah
Nothing pleases me
the traveler on the bus says—Not the radio
or the morning newspaper, nor the citadels on the hills.
I want to cry
The driver says: Wait until you get to the station,
then cry alone all you want
A woman says: Me too. Nothing
pleases me. I guided my son to my grave,
he liked it and slept there, without saying goodbye
A college student says: Nor does anything
please me. I studied archaeology but didn’t
find identity in stone. Am I
And a soldier says: Me too. Nothing
pleases me. I always besiege a ghost
The edgy driver says: Here we are
almost near our last stop, get ready
to get off . . .
Then they scream: We want what's beyond the station,
As for myself I say: Let me off here. I am
like them, nothing pleases me, but I'm worn out
Yet again in the house all day. The local streets are inconsistent; some have been plowed decently, though they're all one way, so if anyone is coming from the opposite direction, it's a negotiation to pull over and let them pass, while some just don't seem safe for travel for any vehicle without snow tires, which are pretty rare around here since we very rarely get so much snow. Adam's best friend was here nearly all day and the kids went sledding, worked on their snow forts, played the Wii, played Spore, checked Facebook, etc. In the afternoon while they were outside and down the basement, I watched Body of Lies with Paul (who was working from home). The performances are terrific, which I expect of Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, but all the minor characters are exceptionally well-cast as well. Some of the thriller aspects were a bit much for me -- this isn't a sophisticated film about American and Middle Eastern people interacting in a messy modern world, it's pretty heavy-handed script-wise, though I found Crowe's character (a guy who orders executions while playing with his son) really interesting -- there's a wonderful scene where DiCaprio's character is complaining over then phone about a major conflict for U.S. intelligence and Crowe's character dismisses him with the word that supposedly triggered Crowe throwing a telephone, "Whatever," then Crowe's character gets into his car with his sullen daughter, who replies to her doting father, "Whatever." I enjoyed the film but given the extreme violence, I am very glad I didn't see it on a big screen.
We were also visited by the cardinals...
...who took turns trying to keep everyone else off the feeder.
Adam went sledding with his best friend on the steep hill through the woods behind the house.
Again we watched through a curtain of icicles.
Our neighbors' front window was even more dramatically adorned with them.
The kids dug deeper in the snow fort.
And we finished off the evening with wassail and a Yule log.
Paul decided that we should have a feast for the solstice, or at least he felt like cooking, because he made fabulous cranberry herbed chicken, basmati rice with almonds and raisins, wassail and a gingerbread Yule log (which he carried in while quoting Stephen Colbert, "I'm sporting a Yule log," and made both kids howl with embarrassment). We watched the season two finale of Merlin, which I loved, though I thought it was very predictable -- I said "He's your father" as soon as Gaius started talking about the dragonlord, and then I was sure Balinor was going to die as soon as they found him so Merlin could be the one to banish the dragon. I was hoping this would be the time that Arthur was paying attention when Merlin used magic -- I still think that when that finally happens and Merlin is terrified about what Arthur will do, Arthur will tell him that he's known for ages -- but I was very happy with their interaction anyway, Arthur trying again to make Merlin feel better by poking fun at him, the whole "if I wasn't a prince, we'd be mates" conversation. I am going to miss this show a lot during the break. Then in honor of the date we watched Xena's "A Solstice Carol," the one with Senticles and Scrooge mixed up delightfully with silly modern holiday customs. And there has been some noise in the background...I think it might have been the Redskins humiliating themselves against the Giants.
Guess what? No school Tuesday, either. I think Adam is actually disappointed about this, having a week of vacation ahead of him when several of his friends will be out of town.