Tue Aug 3 17:24:54 EDT 2004
I miss academic libraries. Tangentially, I miss spending a ludicrous
amount of money on a pile of heavy, beautifully-typeset books at the
beginning of a semester, and then having an entire four months to be
walked, talked, discussed, and worked through them, with almost no
mental or financial room for expansion of one's personal library
during that time. The process of choice was focused, directed: you
pick your four courses, argue with your faculty adviser to take a
fifth without having to drop any one of your seven musical ensembles
or your social life, and then buy the corresponding books. One
choice, or a small set of discrete choices, and you have a reading
list that makes you salivate almost as much as the idea of fresh bread
dipped in olive oil with lemon juice, or a plate of morels.
These days, my intellectual curiosity hasn't dimmed, but its focus has
rather broadened. Gone is the filter through which I used to be able
to direct its beam; diffuse, my energies turn from Kripke's Naming
and Necessity on philosophy of language; to Schönberg's Style
& Idea, through which I
grubbed hungrily in Vienna; Manning & Schütze's Foundations
of Statistical Language Processing as a handle on the first
whitepaper I've read since college; the Guarneri's Indivisible by
Four and MDH Norton's The Art of String Quartet Playing as
an attempt to gain a philosophy, or at least methodology, on an area I
never thought to analyze before I left Midnight. I buy the books (no
longer available through inter-library loan, that under-appreciated
perk of an education that cost as much per annum as I now make in a
year!), and they sit on my shelf, as my brain darts from topic to
topic, directionless. I'm such an ENFP.
I feel like Emily's much better about directed reading than I am.
She's read (and retained) most of the prefaces to my vegan cookbooks,
and half of both of the two vegan nutrition/lifestyle books I got with
the eating change. She's so far read
more of the Kripke than I have. But she's in Chicago now, then
briefly here, but then gone: Minnesota; California. All my books left
It's this, basically, that makes me want to go to grad school (and not
just the interminable COW-table building at work) -- though I have no
idea what in, no burning desire to study any one thing (many,
yes, and therein lies the problem) -- and therefore shouldn't go. At
least, not yet.
But how, until then, to direct this voracity without getting
distracted every five minutes by something new? (And no, I do not
need Ritalin, or to drink less coffee.)
Tue Aug 10 24:42:15 EDT 2004
I met beets tonight.
(Or perhaps, "discovered," or "unearthed.") Except for the daily
orange of the carrot, I've never worked with root vegetables before.
Vegan, I'm exploring my culinary options -- brown rice syrup in the lemon
bars; Emily's millet
Thu Aug 12 17:50:01 EDT 2004
So much rain. Today, accompanying coffee and Belgian dark chocolate.
Yesterday, pouring in sheets and bouncing off the sides of the Capitol
Hilton across 16th Street; filling the construction site at the corner
of K, reďnforcing my belief that all they're building is a series of
subterranean jacuzzis for me; lightly then, and under incongruous
sunlight, as I walked home up Rhode Island. No longer do we have the
option of running around bare, barefoot, on the President's Lawn,
green and safe (though I'm still a stone's throw from a literal one, I
have a feeling that the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania might take less
kindly to it than did Al Bloom). The rain quit before I made it to
DuPont to join twenty or so other blue-clad Run Against Bushers,
sunlight replacing grey as we streamed, 9-minute-miling, up Calvert to
the zoo and down Connecticut to the applause of café-sitters and
Nina wanders in, wrapped in a giant sweater, bedraggled. Last seen at
MLK, Sasha's out front,
bemoaning that the Californian weather didn't follow him back. Kuzman
crashing in his final DC tour, making pizza and drinking red last
night before grappling with the physics of a vibrating string and its
partials. Emily gone. Claire coming back Saturday.
-- all of which just means it's August in DC, or so I hear. This freak tropical weather; this
transience of people. Leaves me hanging. I run (eighteen easy miles
Saturday); I dance; I run some more. If April is a cruel month, August is just a
Tue Aug 24 11:10:57 EDT 2004
Marathoning, it turns out, is physically taxing. I knew this -- I
won't soon forget all my knee problems of last winter
-- but the heat of the summer and the twenty miles of Saturday morning
have lulled me into a false sense of security. No joint pain: knees
coiling and springing alternatingly up the C&apm;O canal all the way
to Bethesda; hips ball-and-socketing smoothly; IT bands pulleyed tight
above patellae, cho-pats leaving red welts after 4:39:57 of
Wed Aug 25 10:55:26 EDT 2004
Eleanor Maxine Mackay (née English)
18 Nov 1911 - 25 Aug 2004
[above, in January, with her cat]
One of the last emails she sent me, just after I'd graduated from Swarthmore and was
settling down in DC:
Date: Sat, 21 Jun 2003 21:30:14 -0400
From: Maxine Mackay
To: Nori Heikkinen
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.50.4133.2400
Dearest Nori:: You have indeed accomplished a great deal in a
short time and, in doing so, have carried on the best of our
family traditions. Bravo. I'm glad you took a job in Washington.
I was there at the time of FDR. He was thought of as a traitor to
his own class. Apparently he wanted Japan to attack the US but
did not want to be thought of as the attacker. Washjomgtpn has so
many cultural advantages. I used to sit in the Corcoran art
gallery trying to copy medieval prints -- before the Mellon was in
full operation. I most liked the Folger Library and its copy of
an Elizabethan theatre. And I liked the columns before the
SupremeCourt Building. I worked in the U.S. Treasury Building, a
fine old baroque structure across from Lafayette Park. I did
witness one inaugural for Roosevelt in l932. It rained and it
rained. I ruined a bag and shoes and hat. Then my date and I
fled to the Willard Hotel and had sandwiches and a cocktail. This
was always a retreat for the Treasury workers to find soup and
sandwich for lunch. The hard thing about being a "governent gal"
was to find suitable room. I stayed for a time on K Street and I
also stayed at 1620 Connecticut Avenue. I sometimes wandered in
the Mayflower Hotel and here saw various notables. Washingron is
bound to stimulate you. At all events, congratulations, dear one,
for what you have accomplished. .
I don't think I ever got around to a proper response to it.
The last one I sent her, a week ago, that she probably never got:
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 15:21:06 -0400
From: Nori Heikkinen
To: "E. Maxine Mackay"
Subject: marines and their sabers
i have a marine corps question for you. i was just talking to
some people in the office about weddings, and one of them
mentioned that his father used to know a lot of marines. when
they would go to a wedding, and the priest would ask "Does anyone
here know of a reason why these two should not be married? Speak
now or forever hold your peace," whatever marine was present would
drop his/her (i guess usually "his") sword loudly in the church,
where it would clatter loudly on the marble floor and startle and
scare everybody. i said that if anyone i know had ever done that,
it would have certainly been you. :) did you ever do that? did
you know anyone who did?
things are going well for me in DC. i'm training for my second
marathon -- the Marine Corps Marathon, actually; so i'll be
running with about 10,000 marines come October 31st -- and that's
going well. i have a 20-mile training run on saturday. my job
continues to be pretty cool; i'm in a string quartet, which is
lots of fun.
how's life by you?
Now I'll never know, but I would bet money that, at least once, she
let fall her saber loudly on the marble floor of some church. Maybe
even at her own wedding. After all, she didn't shy away from shoving
it through her false breast from her mastectomy (final score: she's
now 1-1 with breast cancer) forty years ago. The kind of woman who
hopped glibly on motorcycles before she knew how to stop them and then
plowed them into trees (with equanimity, I like to think), the kind
who joined the marines and helped start Social Security, would have
probably relished the disruptive, echoing clank of metal on stone.
She wasn't always grabbing life by the balls. She used to push me in
my stroller up and down the block, breaking off icicle stalactites
from the eaves of Hoyt school, letting me lick them like a lollipop,
which my mother never would. Hours were spent reading large-print
books (always a safe -- and appreciated -- Christmas gift) in the
Morris chair next to the fireplace, humming "merry, mer-ry mer-ry
Christmas," ŕ la Deck the Halls, tunelessly but joyfully to
But to hear Mom tell it, those were the mellowings of old age. Her
default modus operandi was that of a firebrand. "A model of
how to live life," as Mom put it chokingly on the phone from the ranch
house where she grew up in Tampa this morning. Not that that means
you should smoke a pack a day only until age sixty-nine, at which
point your daughter threatens you with denial of visiting rights to
your first grandchild until you quit, or that you should join in
screaming fights between your two namesakes, to whom you've also
bequeathed your temper. But it probably does mean that you should
continue writing well into your eighties, and keep attending writers'
conferences, at which you dress up in duck suits and become the life
of the party (I'm not kidding -- yellow feathers and all). That you
should memorize your family's entire genealogies back to the
Plantagenets if it suits you, or recite Chaucer in the original Old
English. That you should take the implicit challenge from your
five-year-old granddaughter's nascent geekiness and swear that if she
can touch-type and use a computer, you bloody well can, too. That you
should eat your Christmas cookies before dinner (provided you
check your blood sugar if you're diabetic). That you should join the
Marines if you damn well want to, even if you're a woman in the
nineteen-thirties. That, in sum, you should not obey arbitrary rules
imposed on your gender, age, or anything else.
Rest in peace, Grandma. You've earned it.
Sun Aug 29 13:57:03 EDT 2004
From the Tampa Tribune on Friday, as placed by Mom & Cheryl:
Obituaries & Memorials
E. Maxine MacKay
MacKAY, E. Maxine, 92, of Tampa, died August 25, 2004. She is survived
by her daughter, Kay Heikkinen; her granddaughters, Nori and Alexis;
and her dear friend, Cheryl Gleghorn. Dr. MacKay was a member of the
Michigan Bar, a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War
II, a writer, a University of South Florida professor emeritus
(humanities), a feminist, a licensed practitioner (RScP) and far more.
Her memorial service will be held 7 p.m. Saturday, August 28, 2004,
at the Tampa Bay Church of Religious Science, 4600 Busch Blvd., (813)
Published in the TBO.com on 8/27/2004.
And, right next to it, an independent story by the paper:
Aug 27, 2004
MacKay Opened Doors For Women
By FALGUNI BHUTA
Friends remember Maxine MacKay as a woman who opened doors for women in the military and academia.
MacKay, a former professor of humanities at the University of South Florida, died at age 92 Wednesday in Tampa.
MacKay received a doctorate from Emory University in Atlanta in 1958.
She held various government jobs in Washington and Detroit, where she was a member of the Michigan Bar.
She helped lead the way for female lawyers in the Marine Corps, said Liz Melton, her colleague for 10 years at USF.
Between 1957 and 1961, she was an assistant professor at Jacksonville University and came to USF in 1961. She was a founding member of USF's Status of Women Committee and was director of equal opportunity in the Office of Academic Affairs.
Writing Just For Fun
MacKay enjoyed traveling, writing and taking the day off at the beach, Melton said.
"She was a very kind, warm and generous person," she said.
In the mid-1970s, Melton typed a mystery novel written by MacKay.
"She wasn't interested in publishing it," Melton said. "She wrote it for the fun of it."
She continued to teach medieval humanities at USF on a part-time basis after her retirement in 1980.
Dan Rutenberg, professor emeritus of USF's Humanities Department, knew MacKay for 40 years.
He said MacKay was the first equal employment officer in USF's office of academic affairs and was responsible for major changes regarding women's affairs at USF.
"She did so much for creating the workplace environment that young people today take for granted," Rutenberg said.
A Letter From Mom
One of the funny stories Rutenberg remembers during MacKay's term at USF is when her mother, 90 at that time, wrote a letter to the university president complaining that her daughter was neglecting her.
"Instead of showing shock, her colleagues thought it was a wonderful prognosis of what [MacKay] would be like when she was 90," Rutenberg said. "And she was: articulate, intelligent and organized."
MacKay was active in the Tampa Bay Church of Religious Science, where she was a licensed religious science practitioner.
Reporter Falguni Bhuta can be reached at (813) 259-7620.
This story can be found at: http://tampatrib.com/floridametronews/MGB2YUZTDYD.html
There's a vase of yellow roses on the table next to an empty walker.
all this ©nori heikkinen, August 2004