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.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Popcorn Ball

I seem to have gotten myself caught up in a helluva lot of mundane, boring, unfulfilling tasks again that eat up every bit of my time. I am not sure where or how I went wrong. Every waking moment seems again to be caught up in feeding the vampires my blood and hence has me feeling like I am shriveling away into oblivion once again. I had thought I had worked hard against this outcome, and my fall was off to a good start. But now, because my life's blood is being wrung out of me, I feel irritable, aggravated, short tempered, put upon, hurt, abused, and mangled. I *should not* have to have 17 different students interrupt me across the span of the day to discuss their grade (meaning, they are failing). This is in addition to the three hours I actually lectured, the hour I spent with Super Puppy, the hour I spent with the Chair, and the various phone interruptions.

I tried to sit and do my own work, just in preparation for the the upcoming exams in my classes and I could not get even a sentence written between interruptions. I never even had a moment to step into my laboratory... so of course my research output was big old, damn goose egg today (meaning ZERO).

It is terribly irksome. I want to teach excellently, I want to conduct meaningful research, and I want to be a pillar of the community. Yet, I *do not* want to waste my time with student vampires, nor vampire-like faculty members and chairpersons. I am but ONE HUMAN. I will DIE If you drink any more of my blood. I need some for myself in order to survive. Please, you horrid vampires, do not bother me on Friday.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monnday Was Rough As Hell

Monday was a very bad day. I felt grumpy and angry at most folks, and had most of my day taken up by people robbing me of my time to think, or act, or do anything for myself. Of course, I put on my best "grinning, furry-faced" demeanor to try to mask my irritation.

I did not get to walk Monday morning, as is my current routine. I am not sure, but this may have contributed to my feelings of orneriness. But, due to an illness in my family, schedules had to be disrupted and my walk fell to the wayside. The vampires at work almost succeeded in bleeding me dry, and I didn't get a damn thing done that was what *I* wanted to do for growth and development. As I left the building, very late (6:15pm) I had a blinding headache. I gingerly slid into the seat in the cab of my pick-up and sat the for a few minutes feeling stunned and veritably numb all over from the exhaustion. Afterwards, I backed up out of the space and drove through campus and finally off campus onto a normal roadway. As I built up to normal traveling speed, I reached over to my pipe box and pulled out a very large bowled, full-bent briar pipe, and filled it with a mix of a very strong, harsh, unflavored leaf mixed 5:1 with a mild aromatic burley. As I drove, I ignited the leaf and inhaled deeply to try to have the rich smoke dissipate the ache of my head.

I still felt spent and exhausted when I arrived home, so the pipe did not do the trick as the headache was still there. We had a simple meal, and, even though I despised doing so and did not want to with every fiber in my body go walking, I forced myself to do so at 9:30 pm in the dark.

The headache dissipated somewhat and now I am ready for bed.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Cereal & Melancholy

I am sitting here in my outer office during office hours. I am eating a bowl of bran cereal with blueberries, a lemon yogurt, and having a large cup of hazelnut flavored coffee. I feel low and spiritless. I wish I could hide, for I do not want to deal with students who are bound to show up. I do not want to do anything. I feel sad and melancholy.


Thursday, October 23, 2008


Feeling a bit out-of-sorts tonight. I am not really sure why. Hopefully, it will improve by morning.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vampires Everywhere

I have to do something different. I must. I always forget that this time of the semester is filled with danger. Danger in the form of every moment of my time and of my being is at risk of being consumed in its entirety by the roaming masses of students and the lurking inept administrative types that seek to suck the life blood out of me by inundating me with cries and pleas for help. From the students it is usually along the lines of ".... help me!!!! I am an "A" student, and have never had gotten such horrible scores before. It is unfair, do you have extra credit?..." From the administrators it is "... help me!!!! You need to show me how to do this task that I should know how to do, but by asking you to "help me" I will get it done more quickly with less effort on my part and improve my own day... with no regards to your own time line or schedule...."

I am vowing to find a way to avoid these vampires of my own time and of my own success. Yet, it is a daunting task. I must AVOID my office at all costs at least after lunch. I will fund a hidden area to squirrel away so I can write, and think, and grow, and develop MYSELF. With the vampires lurking, I cannot write, I cannot conduct research, I cannot do a damn thing. So, I MUST hide.

I will come to my office only for my office hours before I head to class. After lunch, I will hide away elsewhere until I plan to leave for the day. Then I will return to my office for only a moment to collect my coat and hat.

I cannot risk having any more of the life blood be sucked out of me. My soul will not survive.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paperwork Shuffle

Today was *mildly* productive in that I spent the lion's share when I was not teaching, just shuffling a bunch of b*llsh*t papers around and getting the damn things off my desk. That is why I say *mildly* productive. It is not work that really has any meaning or real value. But it does get mandatory nonsense out and away from me.

I did walk for the 30th consecutive day today! I am amazed at my consistency. It is a big accomplishment for me.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday Madness

A chaotic, hyperkinetic afternoon poised ready to pounce over my mood and disposition. The day started well, I went walking again (day 29), and felt relaxed and calm as I went into work. I handled with aplomb the myriad of little, aggravating, day-to-day tasks (filling out brief paperwork, editing assignment sheets, etc) and then proceeded to lecture for three hours. After lecturing I ate a late lunch and then planned to head back to my office for an afternoon of writing, planning, and thinking.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. I know damn well I should NEVER sit in my outer office EXCEPT during my official office hours. If I sit there ANY other time, I am sunk like an anchor for I will have an endless stream of people into my office eating away at the very minimal time I do have. Most of the interruptions were typical, run-of-the mill things that were not overly difficult, but they did consume time... 6-7 students, SP, "The Chairman", as well as others. That is normal, for I seem to be the advice giver... and that is *really* generally "ok" especially when I steel myself for an afternoon of accomplishing nothing. I think perhaps I should designate Monday afternoons in that vein.

But, the real, blood leeching, horrific, debilitating and draining task involved a student stopping by that I had not seen in a year. She had been a research student of mine (started, but flaked out before anything had been accomplished). The last I had seen her she was irate and disgusted because she had not read the catalog properly concerning her major and now was in quite a bind (read that as a delay). Well, today she comes in and it is a new refrain of the same old song. She was trying to find a way for me to eliminate her need to take calculus (a requirement for her major). Her excuses were enormous and I spent the better part of two hours with her convincing her that taking calculus was in her best interest. And, even though she may "never" use it in her career, it is part and parcel of the major and she would HAVE to take it. I had a headache by the end of the session. I thought about reaching in my back office desk drawer for a dose of "courage" to try to quell the headache, but as it was already late afternoon, I opted instead to simply LEAVE.

I went home, had a good meal, and that reduced my headache a bit. Then I went to play in the orchestra (nee band) and used my embouchure to and wind to play out the remaining frustrations.

So, overall it was a nice day, that was almost spoiled with Monday Madness. I did get to (while driving to and fro) think a bit more about the plot line I am developing for the novel as well.


Sunday, October 19, 2008


"WW" stands for "whirlwind weekend", which is what I have experienced. The basic rundown is as follows:

Friday - a decent day playing catch up on all the things I let slide at work due to the "big talk" I had to give. Then I went to my elderly father-in-laws and had a fun late afternoon, early evening.

Saturday - a busy day. I watched a bit of the local gymnastics group, and then we went to a birthday party. In between, my wife and I worked on cleaning the house, including washing clothes. Then mass, and then a relative came over in the evening bearing gifts.

Sunday - Today marked the 28th consecutive day of walking 5 miles! I am quite pleased I have had the fortitude to stick with it. It makes a world of difference in my energy level, mood, and especially in my anxiety levels. We both straightened the house a bit, made love, went bowling with my in-laws, went out to eat to celebrate yet another birthday and went grocery shopping.

So, the weekend was rapid-fire, but pleasant all around. It seems a bit odd, really.

Also, I spent some time while bowling, outlining the plot for my science fiction novel "2021: Biosphere Down". I am happily intrigued with the possibilities of the plot I have thought through. Additionally, I worked some on fleshing out character development so that I will be ready to write come November 1st.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Well, It Is In Motion

I have decided to forge ahead with the NaNoWriMo effort that I spoke of in my last essay. As you can see from my sidebar, I renamed my NaNoWriMo blog to mark this change. The book I shall write will be tentatively entitled "2021 - Biosphere Down" and it will be a classic science fiction work with plenty of bravado, despair, psychology, biology, and sociology. I hope that some of you will give it a read and offer comments when I begin the first day of writing the beastly novel.... NOVEMBER 1st.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bootstraps Revisited

I feel much more calm and focused again now that the emotional meltdown of Sunday becomes more distant in my physical body and emotional self. I want to avoid such an experience again, if at all possible.

If you have ever seen the commercial for the perscription medication, Cymbalta, you may have caught one of their catch phrases.... "Depression hurts!" They meant this both physically and emotionally. It is pretty easy to understand the emotional part, but I KNOW it is wholly true about the physical part as well. Last Sunday, I felt a near hysteria of emotions and experienced a range of emotional turmoil to such an extreme that I was physically ill. My throat hurt, my head ached, my back felt like I had slipped a disk, my hands ached, my jaw was tight. Additionally, my eyes were swollen and felt like sandpaper, all the muscles in my torso ached from the sobbing.

How did I pull myself out of this despair? I do not fully know. But, a major contributing part of my help came from my wife. The trigger that plunged me into the pit of despair was a disagreement my wife and I had that started as I was just getting out of bed to walk at about 7:30 on Sunday morning. The disagreement revolved around ways in which the two of us have difficulty in one very specific manner of communication. In a nutshell, for my wife, the difficulty is that when she gets upset or annoyed at a specific event, it causes her to feel upset about everything. For me, the difficulty is that when my wife acts upset in this generalized way, I take it personally and spend a great deal of energy trying to "fix" the situation or try to "ignore" the situation. Neither of my efforts is particularly effective, for they both tire me out and neither is what my wife "wants" at that time. It is an issue we have always had difficulty dealing with. We try all sorts of methods to work through this issue. Fortunately, it does not happen often, but when it does it can be devastating.

Well, back to my point... how did my wife help me get out of the pain and turmoil? She listened to me. She heard my cries about our disagreement. She saw my emotional distress. She saw my physical pain. For me, this was valuable and helpful, and so needed, for it helped me TRY to climb back out of the pit of despair. What is "in" this pit of despair that I felt? The best I can describe it is that I am utterly, horribly alone and isolated. I am in a void. A void where there is no one, and nothing. When I am in this emotional upheaval, I feel such horrid despair that I cannot describe it adequately. Imagine having no senses, imagine having NOTHING surrounding you, imagine there is NO ONE anywhere, you are isolated in an empty space of nothingness. It is terrifying. It is devestating emotionally, and physically the rage, despair, and desperation of these feelings weighs so heavily on my physical body. The argument served as a trigger to allow me to fall into those desperate feelings again, but it was my wife's willingness to LISTEN to ME that helped me find a way out.

Physically, on Sunday, I was a wreck for the entire day. My body had to recover from the episode. But through the pleading of my wife, after she understood better what I was feeling, I screwed up the energy and did go for a walk, to keep my consistency intact.

Today, Thursday, I feel pretty much back to normal physically, and emotionally, the despair of Sunday is growing more distant. Today marks the 25th consecutive day I have walked my 5 mile (8km) walk. I am pleased about carrying this out so consistently. And, overall, I feel the walking helps me significantly to reduce my stress hormones and to feel better.

Teaching is going well, also this week. I am enjoying all my classes at the moment. Interestingly, the three classes are all on a convergent path at the moment and I am speaking about neuronal communication, specifically the biochemical and physiological processes that are involved in neurotransmitter release from the synaptic vesicles of the axon terminals. Fascinating stuff.

I am contemplating attempting the NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) effort again this year. My last effort was aborted very early. But this year, I am thinking I can perhaps make it a more successful and fun adventure. I have roughly two weeks to decide about participation and what sort of book I will write. Currently, my thought is that I will, in this go around, attempt a old-fashioned psychological/biological/sociological science fiction book. Something perhaps in the same vein as B.F. Skinner's Walden Two, A. Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's 1984, or Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451. These novels are amongst the most intriguing science fiction I have ever read in my life. So, why not aim high, right?

My plan is that I will publish my meager efforts here (in a linked blog) for you, my friendly readers to peruse if you so desire.

It feels good to feel back to my old self. I am not perfect by any means, but I am comfortable in this emotional state, which feels to me like my "normal" skin. Now, I will finish this bowl of cranberry-tinctured burley leaf before I head off to class.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life in A Tornado

It has been a tornado of emotions and activities here. Since last Wednesday:

1. Two good days (Wed. & Thurs.) of normal activity accelerated into hyperdrive.

2. A visit to my father-in-law for fun and adventure on Friday.

3. A day of additional extreme activity and busy times on Saturday.

4. On Sunday, a full-blown melt-down. Feelings of failure, self-loathing, worthlessness, and horrid nightmares. I stayed in bed until about 3pm before I forced myself out of bed. I had no focus, no ability to do anything. It started with a disagreement with my wife.

5. Monday was a mixed bag.... still feelings of great failure and shame, extremely anxious because of a damn research lecture I had to give on Tuesday, but had not even started working on. A concert that a challenge because for some unknown reason, at the venue, the conductor seated us enantiomerically from how we typically are seated.

6. Tuesday has been a return to simply extreme levels of work, including the giving of the damnable infernal research lecture. The lecture itself went well, and I was able to captivate relatively well the crowd of about 150 students, faculty and staff. I had nice research data to present, but had grave difficulty until earlier this morning, finding the right "hook" on how to tie it all together in a consumable manner for the audience.

So, that is a rundown of my life these past several days. Hopefully the Sunday emotions are on their way out even further, and I can get back to where I want to be.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

So Damn Busy

I have tried to sit down to write almost every day since my last post. Two things have conspired against me.... 1) having only a minute or two to write at a time, and 2) some infernal technical issue that is making Blogger very slow responding.

I am trying to find more time. Yet, I have not had time to even sit with a pipe all week in my back office. That means I am damn busy.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hectic Beyond Belief

I apologize for the lack of posts. After I wrote on Tuesday, life became excessively harried with a bunch of unexpected issues at the U. It has been tiring. Hopefully I will be caught up and will be able to write more on Friday.