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.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sweet & Sour

A roller coaster of a weekend here, friends. Friday started nicely... I spent the afternoon with my elderly father-in-law and he and I indulged in new pipe tobacco and several strong drinks together. After that, my wife and I went grocery shopping for the week.

Saturday was generally good... somewhat lazy, but I had the usual tasks... my five mile walk, cleaning the cat boxes, as well as other normal duties. We decided to go to mass on Saturday to allow ourselves a lazy-style Sunday morning and came home and ate dinner. It was after dinner that things went horribly wrong. As I was sorting through some items, she became tearful and ran into the bathroom and would not talk. Nor did I ever learn what was going on other than she was upset with me.

Now, I truthfully, very sincerely, very adamantly and with most all of my effort and energy work to keep family time a happy time and one where people are content and happy. I cannot identify anything that I said or did that would have made her so upset.

The rest of the evening was spent (at least by me) in a tense, uneasy silence. As is my normal response to this sort of event, I have two reactions.....

The Internal feelings I keep at bay: frustration, rage, anger, a desire to run screaming through the streets at the unfairness of the situation and my inability to comprehend the situation. I often feel like I would like to go out into the garage and take a piece of lumber and pound, cut, chop and pulverize it into sawdust.

The External feelings I express: an empty hollowness in my eyes, a sadness that causes the corners of my moustache and beard to droop noticeably, and a deep, overwhelmingly strong desire to sleep to close out the world and to dream of alternatives to what the day is. I often sit and smoke very, very deeply from my pipe, with the harshest, strongest pipe tobacco I have, during times such as these... perhaps in an attempt to saturate my brain with such levels of nicotine so as to attempt futiley to erase the memories of the sadness and despair I feel.

After going to bed and having a very fitful sleep, Sunday was a day of return to some sense of normalcy. I still felt very tense and out of sorts and sad and questioning, but she felt and acted better, back to pretty close to her normal self. But, without any sort of understanding about why and what had happened, my return to normalcy was very slow and I am still trying to refocus my mind around the day-to-day.

When this sort of unfathomable anger happens towards me it makes my mind erase much like a hard drive near a strong magnet. I feel out of sort and unfocused for days as I attempt to restart my own focus.

It feels so unfair. It is so unfair. It is, however, my unfortunate reality. In times such as these, I ever more tightly and desperately grip the stem of my true friends who always understands me, my pipe, my pouch, and my lighter.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

To continue, Friends:

Well that morning, I found many inches of snow had fallen (final report suggests there were between 12 and 14 inches of snow in the area I was staying). The meetings themselves were shortened a bit and eventually I found myself on the road toward home. 14 inches of snow in a short period of time and continuing blowing and drifting are not prime driving conditions. However, with a steady hand, a few asprin, a large bottle of ice water, and my friendly pipes and pipe tobacco, I was able to drive the long distance journey to home... only taking roughly twice the time it takes normally.

The blizzard/storm was the worst I have driven through in roughly 15-18 years and it was both awe-inspiring (to see the enormous energy of the storm, and humbling (it took all my effort to drive successfully home). Life is indeed precious and joyful and we must keep that at the forefront of our minds each day.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Life is Valuable

Sometimes it is hard to retain the idea of the goodness and immense value of living. I wish I could always maintain that reverence about what it is to experience life. At best I catch fleeting glimpses of this awe inspiring revelation. To live, to see, or hear, or taste, or feel, or touch, or smell all that that is around is so incredible.

It is often easy to take this beauty of life for granted and to instead lose focus on how unique and special it is to be alive. But it is so much richer an experience if we are aware of this gift.

Although not actually related, I must also identify how a feeling of being alive was fostered in me this past weekend. As a vice president of our state's science educators association, I must travel to rather tiresome meetings across the state every few months. This past weekend the meetings began Friday evening and went through Saturday and were in a location nearly three hours from my home. On these occasions, the association picks up the tab for a hotel room for board members who are far away from home.

After the meeting concluded Friday evening, my normal routine would be to go out drinking with the president and treasurer, who are old friends of mine that I do not see often enough, but because both of them were home with the flu (I was in charge of the meetings due to the president's absence), I did not have any particular plans. I had originally thought I would drink in my room and blog a pleasantly silly timeline of my thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately this blogging did not occur, but it did not occur for a rather interesting set of reasons. As I began to drink my first of several double whiskey & seven-up for the evening, I was flipping through the channels on the hotel room's television and stumbled across the Discovery Channel's Friday evening lineup.... American Chopper, Southern Steel, and American Hotrod. Very surprisingly, all three shows were utterly captivating and engrossing. Therefore, instead of drinking and blogging, I decided to drink and envelope myself in the drama of these three television programs. It was both shocking and amazing to watch each episode unfold. In no time at all it was 11pm and I was plesantly sloshed and had also worked through six or seven bowls of Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco and 3/4th of a large "everything" pizza I had delivered to my room. Suffice it to say the evening was enjoyable on many levels.

It was what happened overnight that was to make my awareness of life especially vivid. As is common for me at my age, I often awaken in the middle of the night to relieve my bladder, and when I do so I usually have another pipe before going back to bed. Well, I went over to the window of the hotel and looked out across the city as I lit my pipe. It was an enormous blizzard, much as they were predicting (but are typically wrong about) that made the visibility nearly zero more than 100 feel or so out. Its strenght and its rawness were beautiful to watch as I nurtured the melding of flame and leaf in my bowl. I knew it would be an interesting drive back the next day after the meetings were through.

I shall continue this in the next post. I am going to head home for the evening.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

An Addition to the "Odds & Ends" Post

Please forgive me, Paula.... I meant to add a section on my essay from earlier today about your remarkable blog, and I forgot! In Paula's House of Toast we receive a true treat in a blend of remarkable photoimages of parts of nature, but at the same time we are able to immerse ourselves into cleansing baths of poetic energy that wash over us as we read her writings. Her most current essay on photography is especially delightful!


An "Odds & Ends" Free-Association Post

Not too much of an organizational scheme to my writings or even my life today. I am feeling a bit nebulous about the desire to accomplish much if anything at the moment.

What is going on with me? Not much of note... I am not particularly motivated at the moment about my Anatomy & Physiology course nor about my Endocrinology course. I am not *unmotivated* either.... it is simply that I am in a sort of stasis. Things are progressing in both classes at a normal pace and there is not a helluva lot to work on for either one at the moment. The A&P students are already stressed about the enormous amount of anatomy to learn after only the second laboratory session... but that is appropriate as well.

I have been mulling over in my mind the idea of getting immersed again in a more creative endeavor. The three things that come to mind are 1) continue on my sketch of a novel (the Grates of Rat), or 2) reimmerse myself into the passion of photography, or 3) begin and work on a complete gutting and remodling of my den/home office. I am not sure which if any or all are things I wish to rekindle at the moment, however. I simply am contemplating. Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

What is going on with others? Well, there has been some exciting news for several people:

On the GOOD front:

The Grumpy Old Man is now well immersed into his first semester of his return to college. It is a wonderful endeavor he is pursuing and I am very happy and proud for him! He is an exceptionally wise and thoughtful young man and he will be able to accomplish tremendous things in his life and career. Bravo!!!

Plark is on holiday! And it sounds as if it is a fun and froliking adventure. I will be watching closely to read more and more of the details. I admire Plark for his ambition to travel to such places as he has. Again, Bravo!!!

The Homeless Guy is also deep into a new pursuit.... the knitting and selling of scarves (and possibly in the future other knitted products). I am extremely pleased for him and wish him well in his efforts. He is a good fellow and it is my hope that he has tremendous happiness. Bravo!!!

On the LESS GOOD front:

Heather had a rather horrible accident where she received multiple breaks to her arm. Fortunately, after several days of hospitalization and surgery, she has recovered sufficiently to be able to return to work and her day-to-day adventures. Wendy is very admirable for her tremendous spirit and joy in life and for her desire to immerse herself deeply into anything and everything life has to offer. A very admirable young woman!

Wendy (who is Heather's mother) is also having a hard time with a very, very harsh bout with edema that is a byproduct of a chronic condition she is coping with. She is still currently hospitalized, but is improving. Wendy is a very strong, motivated woman and I admire her efforts both in the past and present to create a life for herself and her daughter that is creative, filled with freedom, and filled with caring.

There is a nutshell of my thoughts for today. As I sit here in my office at the University, I am enjoying a bowl of a new winter blend my tobacconist has created. It is rather odd chimera of honey and lemon tinctures infused into a robust mix of burley and cavendish. It is delightful and quite fragrant.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Hello Friends:

A thunderous mix of saddness, anger, and meloncholy for me is the way I feel emotionally when I allow my mind to wander towards that horrid damn inevitable knowledge that our life is truly about the creating and then the seperation of ourselves from those we love. It is so hard to be jolted back into the realization that all of those we love will die and that all of those we love will either be wittness to our death or we to theirs.

It feels so harsh in my spirit when these horrid notions break through my mental wall and force themselves upon me. I work harder than hell to keep that inevitably at bay and to ignore that horror. Unfortunately, I am not always successful in doing so.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It has been an interesting morning. I have had my first exposure to my upper division Endocrinology students this semester. The 20 of them seem like an interesting and engaged lot. Happily, my Anatomy & Physiology students (all 80 of them) that I met yesterday also seem fairly engaged. It looks like it could be a very enjoyable semester.

I am feeling a bit scruffy, and could use a haircut and a beard & moustache trim. I am not sure if I should do this today or wait until Friday. Perhaps I will first get caught up on reading some recent research articles and decide afterwards whether to go.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Hello Friends:

I (like the "Grumpy Old Man" [GOM]), am starting the first day of a new semester of university life. However, unlike GOM, I am not staring down into the barrel of the rifle, but instead I am behind the stock of the gun, gazing along the barrel to spy game in my sights. Both positions in reference to the rifle are (of course) valuable, yet my position is more comfortable for me. But, believe me when I tell you that I *do* remember that gnawing feeling of uncertainty all too well.

As a professor for many, many years, I have come to enjoy the ability to start fresh and new a few times each year. In some ways it is akin to being forgiven for your prior sins, of which each of us has his/her own to seek atonement for.

Therefore, to all you returning students, I tip my hat to you, and I gently meld flame into the bowl of the rich, nicotinic leaf in celebration of the start of a new effort, a new journey, and a new adventure. Enjoy it! Have fun! Learn!


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Hello Friends:

I apologize for not having writting in a while, but the holidays were a busy time in my household.... both at work and at home. I shall write more about both later.

In the mean time, I am sitting here with a bit of a fuzzy-feeling in my mind from the festivities of the night before. The wife and I attended a party until late in the last dregs of 2004. The libations were flowing well and a grand time was had by all. My wife (who does not drink other than an occasional glass of wine) was very pleased at the food offerings at the party. We went home as is our tradition at roughly 11pm and sat in the family room with a bottle of wine and discussed our hopes and plans for the upcoming year. We ate bruschetta and toast with our wine and talked well until 2am by which time the bottle of wine was gone. We concluded our evening and started our new year with a pleasantly extensive session of passion with each other and drifted off to sleep in each other's arms.

As I slowly and patiently nurture my pipe and inhale slow draws from the stem, I am feeling a mixture of feelings, mostly pleasant.

Happy New Year.