A myriad of factors, I believe, have guided me into a general feeling of melancholy today. First, I did not sleep well. I have a host of various types of nightmares while I slept. I can only recall snippets of each now, but the net effect was to find me awaken this morning more tired than when I went to bed. Most of the dreams had to do with me struggling:
In the first one I can recall from last night, I was running non-stop on some sort of treadmill and was not allowed to stop or people in my life would be killed.
In the second nightmare I can recall from last night, I was having to run around in a very kinetic state as I tried to help students on the first day of class. I wanted them to have a good first experience, so I ran myself ragged guiding them to their rooms, helped them adjust their schedules, and various other duties. But there were not just 10-20 of these students... those waiting in line grew more and more until there were thousands of new Freshmen (male and female) waiting for me, growing ever more impatient.
In the third nightmare I can recall from last night... it involved me being somehow locked in a small, dank, cement dungeon in the ballast of a creaky old pirate ship. In the locked door, was the one single small barred window perhaps 8 inches by 10 inches. It had a sliding steel panel over it and the only way to get a modicum of light into that hell hole of a dungeon was to pedal like crazy on this contraption in the room with me that was akin to a wooden version of an exercise bike. The problem was that I would pedal furiously on the bike in order to keep the window open, but with the window open, hundreds upon hundreds of people I know would walk by the room and look in through the window at me and grimace or scowl in displeasure at seeing me. Their scorn would make me feel empty inside. But if I stopped pedaling, the room would be utter darkness. Added to that, when I did pedal, the vibration of my pedaling would cause vibrations in the floor and through cracks in the cement hundreds of thousands of ants would start to erupt and try to climb on the bike, and all over me.
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This morning, while I was trying to shake the exhausted mood from the cobwebs in my mind, I jostled loose a memory I had not thought about in years. While in graduate school, when I was single and my family was unfortunately rather far away, I would feel a strong desire to get away from the regular campus crowd and campus activities and feel a more "grounded" sense of people who were not all a part of that academic scene. The university where I did my doctoral work was in an urban enough of a city that there was a pleasantly well developed public transportation system that permeated well into much of the far distant reaches of towns and villages outside of the city.
I searched in the phone book for any Knights of Columbus Clubs (for those that do not know, the Knights of Columbus is a social/fraternal club of Roman Catholic family men who collectively work on public service issues. It is also a social group of men who form golf leagues, bowling leagues, and often times have a bar in their clubhouse. Most people in the Knights of Columbus are regular folks, not executives, not lawyers, etc. My father was a life long member and I was initiated into the Knights of Columbus by my father and my Uncle Chet when I was 21.
Well, in looking in the phone book, I found that there was a Knights of Columbus (K of C)in the area, and it happened to be far, far on the outskirts of the city, in a small village of primairly farmers and factory workers. I drove out there to find my bearings and went inside briefly to look around. It was a very pleasant place indeed. Having known K of C Halls from my hometown, I knew their basic schedule pretty well. Usually on Wednesdays, there would be a bingo and/or card playing fund raising session in the evening, Friday and Saturdays would usually be crowded with families socializing and dancing etc. Tuesdays would be devoted to the various meetings, and Mondays the place would be closed. Thursdays were usually very quiet days at the K of C. Only the "regulars" would be there, and the place would be comfortably sparse. So, I left, making sure I understood the bus route as I drove my self back home in my VW Beetle.
After finding that place, The K of C became a pleasurable diversion for me from academic life 5-6 times a semester. I would take the bus from campus after working hard in the lab all day on Thursday, and make my way out to the K of C, usually getting their around 6pm. This small village was serviced (just barely) by the city's public transportation system, and I decided to take the bus route out there so I would not have to worry about driving after having a few beers. I still recall having to obtain a total of three transfers to get out there at the far distal end of that route. Getting off the bus, I would then have to walk roughly half a mile to reach the Knights of Columbus Club. When I walked in, I found it an amazing breath of "fresh air" from the day-to-day world of academics I lived in. The people were down to Earth, talkative, and laughed and joked happily. Please do not get me wrong, I love academia, and people in the academic world are talkative, and laugh and joke as well... it is just that the two worlds are different and both are good.
I would usually start off at a table in the room and order a pitcher of beer, and sit back, drink beer and smoke my pipe. Inevitably, the "regulars" would start meandering in as well. The regulars in a place like that are usually a mix of men, usually older, who will stop in briefly to have a beer or two on their way home from work. We would chat, sometimes play pool, and drink beer. I would usually stay until around 9 pm and would head back to catch the last bus back into town. The bus was typically nearly deserted at that time of the night, and being semi-tipsy on the ride home was usually an adventure in itself. The bus driver was also the same fellow at the end of the day on the first, and longest leg of this route back into town. His name was Stan, and after a few months of my riding back, we started to chat as well on the drive home. Often, if we were the only two in the bus, Stan would open his window and I would open a few on my side and we would both smoke on the way back in (do not act chagrined, that was common back then, and actually most places still allowed smoking on a bus at all times... the city where I was at in graduate school, however, was "progressive" and banned smoking in buses ahead of the curve). After the three transfers, I would be let off the bus about 2 blocks from my apartment, and I would walk home, feeling very relaxed and having shaken off some of the academic weight I had been feeling upon my shoulders.
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Today it has been 28 weeks since my beautiful mother has passed away. I went to her grave last night after having dinner with my sister across town. I placed a deep red rose upon her grave and talked to both my mother and my father. I hope they heard me, and I hope they may talk to me someday.
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I am not sure what is happening between myself and blogging friend of mine I will call "A". I used to feel we were very good friends on the Internet. We used to talk quite frequently via e-mail and we would comment regularly on each other's blog as well. I have tried on at least 6 occasions over the last several weeks to initiate conversation with "A" via e-mail and/or comments on his site to no avail. It is as if he is purposefully avoiding speaking with me. To be honest, I have virtually decided I will probably have to just let it go and stop writing via e-mail or even reading and commenting on his blog. It feels sad, though, for I do not understand why this has happened.