Sunday, March 12, 2006

March mellowness

March usually finds me taking time off to pull together finalists for the Peter Lisagor Awards, with a break for college basketball. This year, Illinois and Wisconsin both faded early in the Big Ten tournament, and I handed off enough of the journalism contest to keep me sane. So instead:

I'm reading: Tennis and golf are executive diversions, which helps explain how tennis pro Tim Gallwey came to train telephone operators during the AT&T corporate breakup. Gallwey coached them to guess customers' stress, thus short-circuiting the entrenched second-guessing Ma Bell had imposed on the job. In "The Inner Game of Work," Gallwey argues that workers overthink their moves—that they should be observant without being critical.

I'm alternating between business books and short stories: Haruki Murakami, Alice Munro, Joan Didion, A Didion omnibus, "Vintage Didion," includes a prescient view of post-9/11 politics, "Fixed Opinions, or the Hinge of History." On a NYC trip a week after the attacks, she found "the entire event had been seized — even as the less nimble among us were still trying to assimilate it — to stake new ground in old domestic wars."

I'm cooking: The household division of labor is that Brenda writes the menus, largely from Cooking Light recipes, and I prepare the means. She thinks she's a better planner. I think she tends to veto my recipes. Whatever. By 7 p.m. I enjoy working with my hands. it would be a good time for a workout, if I could work in an evening comeback to my morning stretching and dog-walking routine. Best I can hope for is a few more minutes with the dog.

I'm listening: My Christmas gift cards helped me salt away John Coltrane CDs to survive the winter. It's a good sign that I haven't heard them all yet, or maybe it just means I'm making more Harold Washington library visits. Coltrane circa 1957 seems entirely too rococo: I find myself appreciating the rare legato moments most.

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