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Next step would be ...?

Eyes (ojos)
The number of low-level aggravations is far too high for this point in the semester. Part of that is my long-recognized impatience with my own learning curve -- I can be patient with everyone else, but I want to learn something immediately (or even yesterday). But part of it is simply reacting to outside events. I need to get back to a different outlook (I've been calling it closer to Zen), but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.

The joy of normal

"But why would he want to do that?" Friend A wondered out loud. "He" was B, a mutual friend.

I chose the obvious answer: "Because he needs the experience?"

A didn't hit me with the "duh" reaction, but he could have. We both knew what he was really asking.

He made it explicit: "But why did he want to do it now? Why not just spend the summer relaxing?"

I stopped hiding from the question-between-the-lines: "I get that. He's looking for normal and I understand completely what that's all about."

B has been dealing with some serious health problems this past year. The problems have put him in the hospital several times. Even when he's not in the hospital, the problems have gotten in the way of what otherwise would be normal life.

The summer experience we were discussing was something B would have chosen without a thought if all was normal. Even though it wasn't, he'd grabbed for the experience when it was offered.

I understood perfectly. From the start of the Year of the Cancer Experience, I decided to keep teaching as long as I could do so.

To my continued gratitude, "as long as I could do so" turned into the entire year. I could arrange most medical appointments (including 30 radiation treatments) around my teaching schedule and I could arrange my other work around the medical appointments.

Some days, I'd come in, teach and go home and sleep. Other days, I could grab fistfuls of my normal routine. I'd chosen to be open with my diagnosis so I didn't have to spend most days explaining my absences or the bandana and beret I wore to cover my then-bald head.

One of my favorite moments from that year: I was sitting in my office talking with a student about a problem she was having. Mid-story, she stopped, looked at me and asked, "Why am I bothering you with this?"

My answer: "Because I'm bored with my problems. I'd rather listen to yours." We both laughed. Then we went back to normal conversation.

Several times during that year, my then-dean would ask this: "Shouldn't you take a medical leave?"

My answer was always some variation of this: "What would I do if I stayed home, sit in the corner and go 'oh, I'm really sick. Wow, I'm really sick.' I'd rather be here doing a job I love." I'm not sure he ever really understood, and I'm pretty sure he had company in that.

He did understand when the semester of radiation became the only time (before or since) that I'd had to turn grades in late. My "oh Lord, I'm sorry" was met with a dean version of "duh." I was assuming I could handle almost all of my normal. He was still amazed at how much normal I'd managed.

Why does normal become that precious? My theory, which is not new, goes this way: When you're dealing with serious medical problems, you get lots of new, not-normal experiences. But many/most are not experiences you'd choose. Choosing a particular medical path often means you lose the power to choose many of the experiences along the way.

Suddenly, choice matters. Suddenly, novelty loses a batch of its appeal. Suddenly, one of the things you want -- a lot -- is just your plain vanilla normal life.

B is living through that experience now. I look forward to the day when he'll join me in helping other friends work their way back to normal.

What's missing from this picture?

The rooms are full of the cat who's not here ... and won't be.

Wonder how long it'll take before I stop seeing him every time I turn around?

It's a puzzle

I'm cranky this week. (Long story.) So why do so many people seem to be going out of their way to make me crankier?

Another passing observation

I'm listening to one of the local country stations just now. And I'm beginning to wonder why so many artists feel the need to write songs about how much better the "good ol' days" were -- and how many of those piners weren't born during those good ol' days.

Self-fulfilling prophecy?

We assume that attention spans are shorter these days. So we write shorter to capture those attention spans. So people mostly have just shorter material to read....

So their attention spans grow ever shorter?


So I'm checking out at one of the local big box stores and the cashier shows me the link to their feedback link. It is, like many feedback surveys, based on a scale of 0 (bah, humbug) to 10 (love 'em).

And she tells me that their corporate officials see anything lower than a 9 as failure ... and they even see a 9 as "low."

And I walk out wondering why the corporate folks feel they're getting anything useful when they set up a system where honest opinion comes only as black and white, with no shades of gray. Ironically, my own experience tonight was in those gray areas -- the cashier was fine, but I couldn't find someone earlier in the store to help me spot an item I was looking for.

Will I do the survey? I'm doubtful. If I thought they really might listen to the "you need a couple more people to answer questions in the store" comment without pounding the cashier, I might. Since I suspect I can't do the one without having the other happen, I probably won't.

So much for their "desire" to get feedback.

Another random observation

Those who create internet memes should have them proofread by someone who can spell.

Random observations

(From two separate events)
1. I am very tired of hearing a public official whose pet project just got voted down moan something along these lines: "Oh, the people just didn't understand what we were proposing. If they'd have been better informed, I'm sure they wouldn't have rejected this proposal."

Except, of course, that the public official is missing one very distinct possibility: Perhaps people WERE informed and they chose not to vote for the official's pet project. Perhaps they did not find the project as appealing as the official did. Or if they were ill-informed, perhaps the official did a lousy job of explaining the project. (Yes, I know -- the media could also have done a lousy job. But I'm equally tired of hearing every turndown blamed on lousy journalism.)

2. Who determined that one reasonably small group of believers in Jesus Christ could appropriate the term "Christian" for themselves, creating a tiny tent and keeping everyone else out?

Brief rant ...

... as a substitute for the snarling I couldn't do at the time.

First episode: The other woman is trying hard to convince me to join an about-to-be-formed local chapter of an organization. I'm trying equally hard to say a graceful no. It's taken me too long, but I've finally learned to resist the guilt trip that says, "oh, you should say yes to this" when a clear-eyed look at current commitments is screaming, "are you nuts?" The pull to say yes to her isn't strong enough to get past the clear-eyed no, especially since I hate being a member of any group in name only.

"What are you doing that you're that busy?" she asks. (Do I really hear that tone of voice?)

I explain, briefly, that I teach full-time. Another woman in the conversation notes her daughter is also a teacher and the conversation flows in other directions. But that tone ...

Second episode: A friend is asking Panther_tracks and me to her home for dinner. On the way to agreeing to do it today (as I type this), I note that Sunday won't work because Panther_tracks has an evening commitment that's likely to go long and mean we'd get to her house very late.

"But he doesn't have to work Monday," she says.

"But I do," I reply.

We settle on dinner tonight.

Some morals to these stories:
1. If someone is telling you she can't do something, especially join a group, believe her.

2. Just because my husband is retired doesn't mean I am or that I intend to retire in the immediate (or even near) future. As I tell people on a regular basis, I love my job.

3. Despite rumors to the contrary, teaching -- if you're trying to do it right -- takes time.



Latest Month

September 2014
"Laughter, like love, has power to survive the worst things life has to offer. And to do it with style."
-- Jim Butcher, from "Blood Rites"


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