The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hitting the Wall

A confluence of crap is swirling around me during the last several days.  A relative has died on my wife's side of the family.  She has had to leave for several days to help with that situation.  I have not been sleeping well, and my tending to duties here in the homestead has increased about two-fold due to her absence.  I am feeling lonely and utterly exhausted.  I so very much want to smoke my pipes.  I keep trying to tell myself that my feelings are due to the chaos of the moment and that I should resist and keep refraining.  But, I truthfully do not know if I will.


Friday, September 14, 2018

A Meandering List

My mind has been moving in a variety of non-tangential ways during the last week.  My linear focus is almost non-existant.  So, here is a list highlighting a smattering of things I have had pass through my mind to a large enough extent that I recall them at the moment:

1.  Running felt quite good this week.  During the week before this, I had felt quite a bit of lethargy and often did not want to run at all (even though I forced myself to do so).  This week felt a lot better.  I was not always "bright eyed and bushy tailed" about running at 5:00am, but I did feel quite committed to the task, and after getting started each morning, it *did* become enjoyable after about the first mile. 

2.  Work has been better.  Do not get me wrong, I do love TEACHING my classes.  I do enjoy my RESEARCH.  But, as you know from a lot of my posts over the last few years, there are a set of folks that I have to deal with at the Department and University level who are truly obnoxious, mean-spirited, and hurtful.  A little over a week ago I geared myself up and sat down and had a firm, yet not angry or emotional talk about precisely what I NEEDED to have happen with regards to the biggest of the issues I have with these folks.  I was firm, non-emotional, and persistent.  I *believe* I was heard and understood.... especially about my being determined to not allow these folks to take advantage of me.  We shall she eventually how this progresses.  But, it felt successful.

3.  I have been playing music (saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet) more often than I have in a few years during the last few weeks.  It is very helpful for my own mental health and wellness (as is my running).

4.  I have been swimming quite frequently and many times my wife will accompany me as well.  It has been a great way to relax after a workday or just a busy day in general.  Going there with my wife almost feels like going on a "date" or having a special "event" to be at with her.  The swimming feels like a sort of "destination" place to go that helps me feel I have more to life than just work at the U and work at home.... which it sometimes feels like.

5.  Pipes... such a strange and funny thing.  There are a fair number of days where I do not really give my pipes and smoking my pipes much thought.  But, there are other days where I feel interested in them, and they sound appealing.  If I were to estimate the occurrence... I would say that in a given week, 3-4 days are without much thought of a pipe and 3-4 days currently have me finding the idea of a pipe generally appealing.  BUT... probably once or perhaps occasionally twice a week, I still have a day (or an afternoon or evening) where I feel an extremely strong DESIRE to smoke a pipe, and the desire for a pipe will permeate most all of my thoughts for several hours.  There have been a few times where I have had these very, very strong desires almost get the better of me.  Thus far, though, I have been able to avoid falling off the wagon.... even though doing so on those occasions seems utterly beautiful, extremely desirable and vividly thought-provoking.  Sometimes, I think it may be impossible to resist the call.  I have thus far, now for 7 months, but on those days.... I just do not know.

6.  I am getting pretty damn good at making a wide range of delicious bean dishes using dry beans.  For a long time, I had occasionally tried to make good dishes starting with dried beans, but did not have much success.  The problem was I was never patient enough.  I have finally found a fool-proof method to get the DRY beans cooked in such a fashion that I can make some damn wonderful creations.  I like this, because, truth-be-told... dishes made with dried beans as a starting point (when done successfully) always taste a helluva lot better than using canned or frozen varieties. 

Well, there is a smattering of my varied thoughts.


Friday, September 07, 2018

Ditto, But More

Just to state for the record.... I work with some people who are true jerks and they hurt my feelings quite a bit.  But, that said, I am tired of focusing on that and want to think about something else. 

So, the "more"....

I am looking forward to a pleasant, peaceful, relaxing weekend with my family.  I want that wonderful feeling of togetherness that we can sometimes obtain even just in doing rather mundane things.  It is my hope for this weekend.  I am not sure what we may end up doing, but I am hoping for at least some of the following:

Good Food
a Good Movie, Play, or Concert
Harvesting more from the Garden

In addition, I hope and plan to keep up with my normal exercise (running) and keep refraining from my pipes (I have had a lot of cravings again this week after a relatively quiet week the week before). 

It would nice to have a few FUN surprises too.  Perhaps that will happen. 


Thursday, September 06, 2018


There are several folks that I work with that are irritating to me.  They are not irritating because they have quirky behavior, even though they do.  They are not irritating because they believe they are brilliant, even though they think that.  They are not irritating because they have different opinions and ideas than I do, even though their ideas are often different.

What is irritating about a specific small subset of the folks that I work with is that they seem (act) wholly unconcerned about being kind and gentle with others.  It is such an odd thing.... this subgroup of folks really displays NONE of the kindness or gentleness I am used to associating with in much of the rest of my life. 

Now, of course, people all have their good and bad days, that is granted.  But, in most aspects of my life, folks tend to have at the forefront of their minds the idea of treating others kindly and gently.... even if you disagree with them.  It is something I had been guided in from my childhood, and I suspect MOST folks received similar upbringing.  To me, it is a fairly fundamental aspect of life, and it is a helpful/useful aspect of living in a society. 

I have worked with some of these folks for decades, but that lack of empathy or care so frequently catches me off guard.  In the latest examples of this, there was nothing specifically associated in their efforts that affected me.  Instead, it was how they were talking about and treating someone else.  But, their actions and their words.... so, so unkind. 

Even though it is perplexing to me, perhaps I am better off NOT having a better understanding of that sort of mindset.  It is such a harsh approach to life. 


Wednesday, September 05, 2018


I am going to start off by apologizing on three accounts:

1.  I apologize for being away for quite a while.  I have been in a rough emotional place and because of the difficult emotions I had a complete loss of energy or resolve to write.

2.  I apologize for what is likely to be a still sour mood when I get to the body of my text below.  I am forcing myself to push through my emotions and lethargy in an effort to try to change my mood.  This is the only way I know to try to get back to the place I would rather be... feeling calm, comfortable,  positive, hopeful, and hell... maybe even jovial.  But in forcing myself back into the saddle, working to pull myself up by my bootstraps, I will also have to work through my feelings.  This blog helps me go get those feelings out in a way that is tangible to me, and I have found it helps me to somewhat "leg go" of some of these feelings.

3.  I apologize to commenters for a *big* error on my part....  I realized a couple of days ago that I had MANY comments to some of my writings here that had not shown up in the comments.  I stumbled upon them looking around my Blogger work-site and I realize (and now recall) that a year or two ago, I made some sort of setting change that changed comments to allow free commenting for the first week after a blog entry was posted, but after that point, the comments became moderated.  I did this way back when because I was having some difficulty with some spam/ad commenters posting and posting and posting on my older entries (you know the kind of comments.... "Buy viagra cheap!" and "Great prices on (insert nonsense here)!!!!"   When I first set this moderation up, it would notify me by e-mail when I had a comment that needed moderating.  But, apparently with some changes at Blogger, this stopped because I had not received any notices for quite a while.  And, so, here is the real issue.... I *missed* seeing some of YOUR comments... ones that I REALLY DO APPRECIATE and WANT TO READ!  I am sorry.  I have worked to get them to publish now.  And, now that the spam comments seem to have gone away... I am going to work to figure out how to get rid of the moderation setting again (it takes me a while to figure this stuff out). 

*     *     *     *     *

I have been feeling really low emotionally for the last few weeks.  I have felt sadness in the loss of time and I feel the emotions of loss of time with family and with friends.  I am feeling the loss of Summer, even though it is technically the Summer season still, for a lot of us, there is a palpable transition that occurs near and around Labor Day... and I am feeling that change rather acutely this year.  I am also feeling emotional about some documents that got wet in my house due to a damn, leaking waterline.  Nothing was fully destroyed, but some photos and other momento documents did sustain some damage and it was emotionally hard for me.  I have always felt a strong need to protect these photos and documents, and I feel like a failure for not doing so.  I also feel a sense of sadness about my not doing *enough* to try to keep friendships and relationships strong.  I have this nagging feeling almost every day lately about not working hard enough or long enough to make sure that the people who I love and who are my friends (including you readers) *know* of my appreciation and care for them.  I feel intensely thoughts of my being lazy, weak, unfocused, and not diligent enough in what I should do.  And, I have been thinking about my pipes a lot as well.  Sometimes I will sit and stare at them for quite a while, thinking.  Also, my TMJ Disorder has been acting up like hell and I need to work at trying to alleviate that. I miss the bite splint the dog chewed up, very much. 

I believe starting writing again is a first step I can take to get out of this hell hole of being locked inside my mind with all the harsh, sad thoughts that have been swirling around inside. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Two "milestones" to mention today:

1.  Today was the 3,616th day in a row where I walked or ran at least 5 miles without missing a single day!!!!!  I am fast approaching the 10 year mark for this behavior.  I hope I make it.

2.  I have now passed a full 1/2 of a year (6 months) without smoking a pipe. 

Again, neither of the above really has any value or bearing on much of anything relevant, I know.  I realize in the greater scheme of things, both are truthfully rather inconsequential.  I mention them both, however, because they are meaningful to me, personally.  Both help me feel like I can show commitment to something, and help me to see I am capable of purposeful consistency. 


Monday, August 13, 2018

Pat McDowell's Comments

A few days ago, Pat McDowell raised some very interesting and valuable points to me in the comments section.  Pat asked me why I still have my pipes and tobaccos?  The thought was that I should either get rid of them if I am hell bent on quitting for good or I should simply go back to smoking a pipe.  I think the questions and ideas are valid ones and I can understand well the suggestions. 

However, for me the answer lies elsewhere, and not at either end of the spectrum.  While many would agree with Pat and say I should throw all my pipes, my tobaccos and other associated materials away to help me continue to refrain, I do not find this a comfortable or appropriate choice for me. The pipes are "old friends" that I have had for decades and to toss, sell, or in any fashion "get rid" of them feels inappropriate and sad to me.  Each pipe has a story and each pipe reminds me of many different aspects of my life.  They are also, at least in my opinion, quite beautiful, each akin to a work of art.  I like looking at them.

In a similar vein, I can understand the idea of saying "to hell with quitting" and simply going back to the hobby/habit.  Believe me, I can understand this well.  It was something I enjoyed greatly and still think about quite regularly.  It would be easy to go back to my prior ways. 

Yet, at least for now, I do not.  I do believe I am doing something good for my physical health by not smoking a pipe.  Whether refraining hinders or helps my emotional health is up for debate. :)  But, I do believe that from a physical standpoint, it is probably a good idea for me to refrain. 

I also admit that there are a few current factors that I believe had made me more capable of refraining that in other attempts I half-heartedly tried before:

1.  The Lenten Vow *was* very helpful to me during my early period of when I stopped smoking my pipe.  The Lenten Vow was akin to a mission that I needed to accomplish.... I needed to do what I said I would do.  It helped me push through some very rough times. 

2.  The lack of local pipe smoking friends.  During earlier decades and even just a few years ago, I still had local pipe-smoking buddies and friends to commiserate with.  Currently, I have no such friends.  When I would smoking my pipe I ended up being a "lone wolf" sort of character.... which in some ways was "ok" but truth be told, it also felt isolating and alone.  This is not really a "peer pressure" sort of emotion (even though it could be read that way), because no one bullied me in any sort of fashion to refrain.  It was a choice I made, but I do admit a part of why I made this choice is that I did feel a bit alone.  I guess I am not much of a "maverick" "lone-wolf" sort of fellow at heart. 

3.  The unfortunate passing of my dear friend and father-in-law.  I do, very deeply miss our chats and our discussions, and I miss our times of libations and pipes together.  With his passing, those times have abruptly ended, and I do feel that loss greatly.  In some ways, a lot of the joy and value of my pipes and pipe tobaccos diminished with the loss of this great friendship. 

*    *    *    *    *

So, it may seem to many that I am in a state of "limbo" (a good "old school" Catholic term) in regards to my pipes.  But, I guess for me, I do not ever think there will be a time where I would want to shed myself of these pipes nor the pipe tobaccos and other accoutrements.  While I may plan to not use them again, I do not feel it is correct for me to simply excise them from my life.  In the same way I keep the signed copy of a Kurt Vonnegut novel I doubt I will read again (I was able to have him sign the book when I attended one of his public speaking engagements many, many years ago.), I keep my pipes.

*    *    *    *    *

Will I go back to  my pipes?  I cannot say.  In a perfect world, I would never have left them.  But, in the real world I live it, it seems best to be away from them now.  Perhaps in the future, I will change my mind.  Yes, there is a risk that temptation may win out on my resolve.  It almost did so a few days ago (as my prior post mentions).  If I had a true "pipe dream" I would like for the current, real world.... I would be able to indulge in a pipe or two or three a month, and not indulge the rest of the time.  I do not know if I could realistically do that however.  I do not know if attempting such a pattern would be something I could muster up the resolve to do, or if it would simply be a slippery slope back to my prior ways.  I do think a lot about *if* that once or twice or thrice a month *is* something I could do.  I do not think I am strong enough in resolve to try that... at least at the moment.