That's how many more hours Charlie had of school, as he only had a half-day Wednesday. It was his last day of school for 2009. On the one hand, he could have done without the half-day and he was, indeed, going to do without it, but "the best laid (travel) plans go to waste" and all that. He's been taking his time getting out of bed the past two days but sprung up and got dressed at a little later than the last minute. We still made it on time and Charlie's school days were good. With over a week of vacation ahead of him, sticking to the usual order of things was a good way to start off a real diversion from his usual routine. We did nothing out of the ordinary aside from a trip to the post office (I had arranged to have our mail held and had to change that—my mom already sent a Christmas box!).
Four hours is also how long it took Jim to get to his office near Columbus Circle yesterday, thanks to an "Amtrak power issue." Jim called me a couple times from the Meadowlands and observed that he felt like he was experiencing what we could/would have on the plane, especially if there had been any delays after we boarded, leaving us sitting on the tarmac.
I dropped off and picked up Charlie from school so I didn't quite have four hours to get some work done—emails (a couple overdue), plans for a this trip in (yikes) March, plans to wrap and send out the Christmas gifts for my cousins that I'd been planning to bring out in my bag. I got in work on a couple of lines of Seneca – the play I'm working on is some 1200 lines long so I'm afraid you're going to be hearing a lot about it.
For the record, I'm never been a big fan of Seneca, or of Roman philosophy (Seneca was a Stoic), or of the history of the Roman Empire (the Emperor Nero ordered that Seneca, once his confidante, be executed; Seneca committed suicide in 65 CE). I was planning to work on my favorite, Latin lyric and pastoral poetry, but fate intervened in the form of a communication that there's a need (i.e. a possible audience) for Roman renderings of Greek mythology in dramatic form. When it comes to ancient literature, my own students much prefer reading plays over poetry and these Senecan tragedies not only have some of the usual elements one finds in Greek mythology (gods and goddesses; love, all too often of an illicit type; complicated family situations and relations). They're also quite violent and, too, gory and (according to some) excessively so.
Yes, in the ancient world, sensationalism was just as popular as it is now. I've often thought that some appeal to the public's fascination with such has played a role in keeping "shocking" theories like "vaccines cause autism" alive. If you look at accounts of "how vaccines caused my child to become autistic," there is often an emphasis on the needles and the syringes along with detailed descriptions of the (messy) physical symptoms manifested by a child; remember David Kirby's "rivers of diarrhea" reference as well as various celebrities' pronouncements on medical topics?
So who knows how this translation is going to turn out. I suppose I could say that, in taking care of Charlie, we've been in more than a few "extreme situations" full of emotions felt very close to the bone, in ways that overlap more with all those res horribiles in ancient tragedies than the musings of love-lorn shepherds in Virgil's pastoral poetry.
On the other hand, most of life with Charlie is all about quiet routines, and quietly routine: Trips to stores, doctor's appointments, driving in the car, visits to Grandma, walks around the neighborhood. To get a little high-falutin', I think of life with Charlie as the "poetry of everyday life" and, while there are many difficult moments, never a tragedy.
Tragedy, if you will, is a literary genre. But we keep writing, or rather living, that other "poetry of everyday," with every mundane moment, hour by slow hour, hour by hour.