December 15, 2012
Dear friends and family,
As I sit here slavishly tied to the computer, Suzanne is off gallivanting around England on another one of her modernism junkets. I never realized what a gravy train early 20th century poetry could be (or that my wife could manage to convert a 45 minute lecture into a week-long extravaganza from Oxford to the Cotswolds and London). But I am not one to complain—supportive spouse that I am. I jumped into single parenting wholeheartedly last Monday night, serving up a dinner of grilled chicken and salmon, with two vegetables besides! But by Friday, I’d run out of steam, leaving Zac to forage his own dinner of 3 frozen waffles and a banana. But at least he had real maple syrup.
Zac doesn’t have much to complain about, however, as he has a new dog, Josie Doodah Churchill, and a new middle school, Woodlawn, both of which he loves. Josie is a Havanese puppy that we acquired not from a mere breeder, but from a Southern “puppy ministry” (they use profits to cover the costs of adopting international children). When we visited the ministry to pick up our puppy, we met the roundest, most placid, redheaded baby named Josie Doodah, who grinned (and drooled) at us toothlessly for 30 minutes straight. Meanwhile, Josie’s brother Harry (yes – Harry Doodah) and the ministry’s recently adopted Chinese daughter ran around smacking each other’s heads with plastic light sabers. We were hoping our puppy would take after baby Josie, but she seems to have the spunk of Harry, even if she lacks the doodah.
Woodlawn is a small, private school with plenty of Davidson College connections—e.g. Zac’s English teacher is a former student of Suzanne’s who likes to regale her students with traumatic tales about cat sitting our other family pet, Fergus. It’s the type of school where the first 6th grade assignment is to sew school mottos into burlap-type material for use as erosion barriers. The students then install the barriers around the campus so that the words become part of the foundation of the school. I, of course, had some great suggestions for Zac like, “Where would the top 1% be without lawyers?,” but his group came up with something pathetic like “There are no short cuts.” Ah, youth.
Luke and Thomas are juniors at a large, public high school (school motto: Will you just graduate already?), and they are launching into the throes of the college search. On our annual pilgrimage to Massachusetts and Maine last summer we hit a few safety schools like Princeton, Yale, and Amherst for campus tours and info sessions. The highlight for me was the Yale campus tour, where the cheerful student tour guide asked the prospectives to tell him their hometown and personal interests so that he could tailor his remarks accordingly.
Thomas was up first: “Hi, I’m Thomas Churchill. I’m from Davidson, NC, and I like to play soccer.” Definite Yale material. But this is where it’s great to have twins. Even if one strikes out, you still have that second chance, right? “Hi. I’m Luke Churchill. I’m from Davidson, NC, and I also like to play soccer.” Maybe not. Of course, the other prospectives then proceed to discuss (at length) their interests in the human genome, neuroplastic re-engineering, transnational politics, and experimental poet Mina Loy’s migration from Italian Futurism to New York Dada as evidenced in modernist little magazines (oh wait, that last one came from Suzanne).
Suzanne loved Yale – she’d enroll there in a heartbeat, if they’d take her. At the Beineke Rare Books library, her nose was pressed up against the glass like Josie’s when she sees her boyfriend, Gus, outside. Meanwhile, Luke, Thomas, Zac and I were busy plotting the route to the Dairy Serv – the soft-serve ice cream joint in our hometown of Durham, Connecticut. But I guess that’s why the gentlemen in our family aren’t getting invited to give talks in England.
Luke and Thomas are not just soccer studs— they are also learners-permitted, teenage drivers, tooling about in our stylish 1998 Honda minivan, aka “the dank tank” (a moniker derived from the lingering odor of sweaty soccer gear). They had “summer jobs” last year as a substitute lifeguard (Luke) and a volunteer at a local guitar lesson studio (Thomas), which netted them about $100 in the aggregate but bestowed on them a great tan and a certain vibe. And they’ve reached an age where their math, science, and music knowledge (actually, pretty much any area of knowledge other than THE LAW and modernist poetry) dwarfs that of their parents.
When not dancing in London clubs with the British boy band, One Direction, Suzanne continues to enjoy teaching at Davidson College, as well as yoga, occasional painting, and a daily constitutional with Josie. I continue to practice law in Charlotte, and I’ve joined a fitness group (which Suzanne affectionately calls “The Cult”) that holds boot camp workouts at the ungodly hours of 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. So if you see a good-looking, super-buff guy running past you early in the morning in Davidson, wait about 10 minutes and I’ll come puffing along behind him.
Now I know this letter has gotten a bit long, but that’s what happens when your editor is lolling around London giving twins advice to William and Kate while you write the dang holiday card. So I will end it with a heartfelt thanks to all of you for being part of our lives and with best wishes over the holidays and in 2013.
Please come visit soon – Josie needs a walk!
Matt, Suzanne, Thomas, Luke & Zac