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.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Today was my 150th consecutive day of walking. I am happy and actually somewhat surprised I have been able to maintain the consistency. It has made a significant different in my physical body, as I am now in a normal BMI. If you go to the Adult BMI Calculator on that site and input your weight and height, you can assess your BMI. When I first started walking seriously 5 months ago, I weighed 42 pounds more than I do today.

The walking has also been helpful for my mood as well. Even though I still an in a very rough mood currently, on average, my mood is far more positive in the last five months that it has been in the last two or three years.

I wish I could feel happier, less worried, less fearful. But, I have not figured that out yet. But I do know that my walking has been helping me feel the harsh emotions less.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tugging on the Bootstraps

It is the same old refrain, I suppose, so most of you will be tired of hearing about it. However, I am TRYING VERY HARD to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and force myself through this downturn in my mind. Relief has yet to arrive, but to do anything other than trudge ahead through my routine seems more frightening and despairing than just staying the course and living day-to-day, pretending as if all is right with the world.

What do I do in a typical day now:

1. Awake at 5:45am, listen to NPR for a while, get up at about 6:15am, get dressed to walk and out the door by 6:30am.

2. Walk 5 miles, and while walking either:

a) think quietly about my thoughts

(When I feel "good" I like this option for it allows me ample time to think creatively about...

i) the design of experiments in my research,
ii) ideas for the science fiction novel I am determined to write,
iii) think about things I wish to make for or do with my family,
iv) think about different home improvement projects I could work on, or
v) think about different ways of changing and improving my teaching.

I am not doing this so much at the moment, as being in my thoughts currently only magnifies my feelings of hopelessness, despair, fear, feelings of failure, and worry about dying.)

b) praying the roasary, or

c) listening to NPR.

3. I then come back home and shower (and occasionally shave my neckline), and dress for work and head to the U.

4. I typically have a plethora of students and faculty and staff constantly at my door needing my help/assistance. Some days this is good, some days it feels overwhelming. But, even on the best days it has me feeling like a hamster on an exercise wheel, never getting the chance to gather my thoughts before...

5. I head off to class.

6. I then eat lunch (on days my classes allow it).

7. I then work most of the afternoon on:

a) dealing with a plethora of students and faculty and staff who are constantly at my door needing my help/assistance. Just like in the above, this often has me continue feeling like a hamster in a wheel. But if there are relatively few of these interruptions I also will...

b) work on grading papers and tests

c) reading/searching the current scientific literature in my research field

d) mentor my research students

e) go to committee meetings

8. I then leave in the late afternoon/early evening and head home in my truck.

9. At home, I help my wife with dinner, and then we spen a bit of time with the family, perhaps watch an hour of television, and then my wife heads to bed around 11:00pm.

10. I then go to my home office and try to work for another two hours. Usually, in the past this time has been very productive as I do not have interruptions and it has in fact been rather relaxing. Yet, of late, I feel uninspired and usually accomplish little. It is supposed to be a time for a) me to catch up on work, b) work on my writing and art hobbies or c) explore. But not so much of any of that is happening.

11. I typically then get to bed around 1:00am.

So, wish me luck as I continue, continuing on. If I keep doing my routine, I am bound to push through the dark, dank, and foreboding woods of despair and eventually find myself in a bright, sunny, clearing of joy. Right? That is the string of hope I try to clutch in my hand.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Struggling, Struggling

I am seeming to continue the fall back into unending despair. I feel hopeless and sad and angry all at once. If I allowed myself to do so, I could sleep 24 hours a day. My thoughts revolve around death, dying, and loved ones who have passed away.

Please believe me when I say I am trying to not slip back into that horrid cesspool of despair. I am LITERALLY FORCING MYSELF to go through the motions... I walked even longer today (6.2 miles (10 km)) and this is day 144. I have been drinking additional water, trying to get more rest, and have been trying to do things for others... all things that have helped me in the recent past.

It does not seem to be working, however. As I type this in my back office, away from the masses of students, tears are streaming from my eyes and into my mustache and beard.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chaos of My Mind

My mind is awash in chaos, swirling, tugging torrents of water-like thoughts pull at every fiber of my mind, spirit, and soul.

The funeral was today, and I am glad it has occurred, for maybe it will allow me to revert back to the happier train of thoughts I had been striving to culture and foster in my life. The last several days, since his passing, I could feel my horrors and sorrows permeate back into my heart. I once again felt desire only to sleep and to eat junk food, in massive quantities. I felt the hideous emotions of despair and pointlessness bubble up to my consciousness.

To try to get the rough and unhappy things over, after we arrived home from the funeral, tonight (this evening), I fulfilled my invitation (requirement) to attend dinner with the President of the U. The President is a nice fellow, but these dinners are not my forte, for they pool a handful of faculty together who do not know each other for a meal and several hours of idle chit-chat. Chit-chat is most certainly not my forte, and it exhausts me and keeps me constantly on edge. I could have easily refrained from going due to the family circumstances, but then I would have been requested to attend another one in the next month or two. My thought was to combine the two hard tasks together. The last time I was asked, was when my mother had passed away, and I did beg off, because I was completely unfit to function.

To be truthful, the President was very nice and cordial. The food was also very nicely prepared. Additionally, the other faculty were all nice folks. Yet, it was very, very hard and draining on me. Chit-chat, simply talking about things without purpose or goal is simply not a task that gives me comfort or balance. It feels more akin to walking a tightrope high above a ravine upon which one misstep would mean certain death.

Also, the meal, although for 99% of the population, would be considered WONDERFUL, for my own food needs and desires it was the polar opposite of what I eat. There was an enormous slab of beef (I do not really enjoy beef, and if given a choice, avoid it). There was a side, but it was simply a cooked carrot, two small wedges of a potato and a tomato stuffed with cheese. The salad was a couple of leaves of spinach with a strawberry on top. Dessert was a lava cake, which, as was everything else, was very well done, but it is not an item I would choose to eat.

I am much more attuned to eating high fiber, vegetarian foods with enormous salads and very small, light desserts. But, of course, because the FOOD gave me a way to keep my mouth occupied so I did not have to chit-chat as MUCH as I would have had to without the food, I ate every single morsel... simply to occupy time.

I made it home, and now am praying and vowing to have Wednesday revert back to a NORMAL day, a day like I have been striving for during the last several months... one of calmness, small goals, and striving for happiness.

And yes, today I *did* walk, at 5:30 am, so as to not break that cycle. I was not in a mental state to do so, but I forced myself even though all I wanted to do was cry and sleep and eat. It was day 142.


Monday, February 09, 2009


My cousin was given medication on Friday to reduce swelling in his brain so the physicians could better assess neural function. Within a few hours, his blood pressure spiked and he suffered one, and then a second massive strokes. The family took him off of life support late Friday evening. He did not even take a single breath on his own after being taken off the ventilator.

His funeral will be on Tuesday.


Friday, February 06, 2009


There is no meaning to the title of my essay. It is just a word that came into my head.

I am still not doing all that well. I just found out yesterday about my cousin. He had a heart attack, and apparently during the ambulance ride, he was deprived of oxygen and may be brain dead.

Saturday would/will be my mother's 81st birthday. I miss you tremendously, Mom.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Get Going

Times are rough for me emotionally at the moment. I do not know if it is the lack of light, the time of the year, the approaching birthday of my mother, or the date of her passing, which is also very close.

I feel like nothing, I feel as if I am a zero. Actually, if I could discern somethning of less merit than zero, that is how I feel.