Is there any better surprise than a snow day? An early morning robo-text arrives, and suddenly, the future opens up like an oyster gently placed under the broiler. Plucked from its cool, native waters and subjected to unbearable heat, that succulent bivalve goes against all of its inherited instincts and opens its shell. It exposes its tender self in a desperate bid to alleviate the searing pain, but in the act of intended self-preservation, the soft flesh is cooked in its own mucus.
A snow day is a delicious oyster.
And that’s because the day becomes a writing day! It’s when the hustle and bustle of the workaday week recedes (not that “hustle” is a typical part of academia, and “bustle” was eliminated in the new collective bargaining agreement); when the necessity of performing my part in support of the Western economic machine pretends to abate; when I don my writer’s cap, which is crafted of black velvet and has a heavy superstructure of lyrebird feathers and scrimshaw and also supports the Western economic machine despite being handmade. In short, a snow day is when J.M. Torgo writes.
My fingers dance across the supple keys of my Logitech K520 wireless keyboard. Its batteries are not new, but they still have life enough to fling my words at the wall of screen before me and into the search pane. They fly outward to the waiting arms of a corporation whose sinister goals are beyond my ken and attention span. Research is important and almost always found within the first two pages of results.
All hail the search pane! Where else could I discover that synecdoche and metonymy are subtly but importantly different? Besides grad school, I mean. How else could I find the gritty detail to flesh out that paragraph about the manufacture of artisanal wood screws or get a better thesaurus than the one that comes with Word? Research.
Ideas whirl and gyre like snow in the wind as I absorb information. I connect the trucking strikes of 1979, which soured the nation on its new, romanticized cultural vision of the Trucker, to the existential peril of Artificial Super-Intelligences. This vital link comes via several waypoints–several dozen maybe–that chart out a path of intellectual enrichment. It is hard labor, to be sure, and my mouse-hand quivers with fatigue.
The sun sets, and the snow takes on the fiery hue of a broiler element. I’m grateful for this unwonted opportunity to advance my literary assault. I already long for the next snow day, when I will painstakingly distill the granular specificity of today’s research into 3-5 sentences, which will form the irritating center of an eventual paragraph. It will grow over many snow days, layer by layer, akin to the precious pearl of pinctada mazatlanica, whose native beds were also the subject of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl and which remain under the protection of the Mexican government to this day due to over-harvesting in the first part of the twentieth century.