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, May 31, 2012


I am counting down the days for the remainder of this abbreviated/accelerated Spring course.  When I conclude, I will be "FREE, Free, I say!"  (think of the voice of Foghorn Leghorn when you say this.).  Not much else to mention at the moment other than my wife made me a delicious dinner last night of Mexican food.  I had a taco, two tostadas, a burrito, and a huge taco salad.  Ample, delicious jalapeno peppers adorned every bite of my food.  It was wonderful.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vim & Vinegar

I feel quite refreshed today.  In answer to austere's question, my blood work is actually good.  I was writing yesterday about being tired because with the crazy, hectic abbreviated Spring schedule I have, Tuesday's are especially long and challenging.  I start at 8am and end at 10 pm with only two 15 minute breaks all day.  And, for me, 14 hours of "professoring" and talking loud so all the students can hear me is not my normal teaching schedule.... so I was feeling pretty exhausted.  Fortunately, other days of the week, while hectic, do not approach the length of the teaching on Tuesdays.  And, soon, the Spring schedule will be over and I will be off for the Summer! 

I am looking forward to a conference I will be attending in about two and a half weeks.  It should be a grand adventure filled with wonderful sites to see and good food!  I just have to get my research talk in order before hand. 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

So Tired

As the song by John Lennon states...I'm So Tired.  Unfortunately, I still have another four hours of teaching left (after starting at 8 am) today.  Well, when I finish, I will be excited, albeit exhausted and ready to go home. 


Friday, May 25, 2012


I am hoping for a wonderfully relaxing weekend this Memorial Day holiday!  I have been pretty darn efficient in my U work this week even with the accelerated pace and intensity of the abbreviated Spring session.  I have all sorts of fun thoughts on how I can relax and/or do some fix-it things around the house along with spending a great deal of time with my family.  I also (of course) plan to visit the cemetery to take flowers to loved ones who have passed away. 

My essay yesterday was unfortunately not saying what I wanted to say particularly well.  Here is a comment I posted to my friend, BBC, that may clarify some of what I was thinking about yesterday:


I did not mean that teaching made me *feel* like a robot. What I was trying to say is that I was viewing my day such that I wanted to work "robotically" which in the way I meant it was to say that I was just plugging away, doing what I was supposed to do, trying to squeeze in as many tasks as I could into the the time I was at work. I actually had a very good day yesterday with this approach. I ended up not only feeling great after teaching (I usually feel quite energized and generally content after lecturing), but the better part (the "robotic" part) was that I also was able to get a helluva lot of paperwork things off my desk too.... a) a final report for the government about a grant I had that is now finished, b) a slew (7) of recommendation letters for students I needed to get out, and c) two exams to my secretary so she could dress them up and get them to the graphics center.

I guess perhaps in terms of being a "robot", I meant I was feeling rather efficient in my efforts and not so particularly expository.


One more additional note for BBC... I am hoping that you may be gearing up to have comments back on your site again soon.  It may have been enough time has passed so the aggravating person to you will back off for a while.  I enjoy commenting about your writings on your site when the comments are available. 


Thursday, May 24, 2012


Not too much to report at the moment, as I am simply being a "robot" of sorts.... because of a brief, but massive teaching load for a spring short course I am teaching.  I am simply plugging away at it, in order to "get it done" so-to-speak. 

Things are going adequately, and I feel adequate as well.  I am looking forward to the start of the Memorial Day holiday and a few days of open-ended time. 


Monday, May 21, 2012


Just a brief post for the moment as I am getting things ready for a long day of "professoring" here at the U.  It was a nice, pleasant weekend!  Saturday, my wife and oldest daughter went to a shower for some relatives.  My son and I spent the day together just enjoying.   Mass was very nice on Saturday evening and then we went to a play. 

Sunday was a day filled with yard work, and then feeling not like heating up the kitchen (it was 90 degress outside), we went to the local Indian restaurant and ate their buffet that they have on Sunday.  They had delicious Pinde chole, so I was especially pleased,  but the Tiki Chicken was excellent as well as were the lentils and all the dishes. 


Friday, May 18, 2012


A beautiful word suggesting "with pleasure" from Italian.  It is descriptive of my being at the moment.  I have just returned from a gentle afternoon of camaraderie with my elderly father-in-law.  Pipes and libations were ample, and the conversation robust.


Thursday, May 17, 2012


Yeserday, I had to scoot out of the U as quickly as possible so I could go to my new dentist.  After my old dentist had retired, his practice was given over to a new fellow, and I had been going to him, but philosophically there were a variety of problems that I had with him. He was a sort of "salesman" type person, constantly trying to goad me into getting veneers, and all sort of other pricey b*llsh*t.  I have temporomandibular joint disorder, I kept telling him, and I did not feel all these laminates and veneers and other "add-ons" were viable for the tough way I chomp with my teeth.  I simply wanted healthy teeth and gums.  Add to this, he had botched a supposed filling replacement three years ago and it has been aggravating as hell since then.  The cheap crap he used to create a new filling fell apart in a matter of days several times before I gave up and just lived with it.  This definitely did not induce confidence in me about his practices.  So, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I did not return to the dentist for over 2 years. 

I finally could not stand it any longer and searched around for a new fellow who seemed very family oriented and traditional in approach.  With trepidation, I went to him for the first time yesterday, and it was wonderful.  My teeth now once again have a pearly white appearance, and he even told me I have done a damn fine job of keeping my teeth and gums healthy!  And, he did not grouse at me about my pipe like the other fellow did too.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Long Day Today

Today is a long day of teaching and I may not return home until 10:30pm.  Even though it is a helluva lot of talking and quite a bit of work, I am cautiously hopeful that the day will be trouble-free and hassle-free.  I think it may very well be so.  My fingers are crossed. 

I feel a bit more spruced up as well, because I went and had a haircut and a beard and moustache trim yesterday.  My heavy, unruly hair is now short enough that it doesn't have a whole lot of ways to go unkempt and my beard is trimmed neatly so it does not gravitate towards the wooly look and I trimmed the lip line of my moustache to give it a sharper edge so to keep it tidier as well.  I look, and feel clean. 

Also, I have been thinking about olives.  I probably will eat a can or jar (or both) of them when I get home late tonight.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rainy Saturday

I ended up not going to visit my elderly father-in-law yesterday.  I felt tired and a bit out-of-sorts.  In many ways I wish I would have gone, but that is in the past now.  Instead, what I did, because I knew of the impending rain we would get all weekend long, is, that I mowed the lawn.

Whatever this illness I had first acquired 12 days ago, was a doozy.  While physically I am much improved (today, I would say B+ as I feel a bit more run down than I would like), it is a long-lingering sort of cold/flu where you do not bounce back as quickly as I would like to.  I have heard this from others as well, as it seems to be an illness that is "going around" these parts.  Most say they are worn and wiped for 2.5 - 3 weeks.

I am hoping my vim and vigor return soon.  It is aggravating to have so much residual phlegm still and to also get tired so early in the evening.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Pindi Chole

Today's post is only very minimally about my physical (A-) and emotional (B-) health.  In fact, that is all there is to report. I wanted to write instead a bit about one of my favorite ethnic dishes, Pindi Chole.

I truly love Eastern Indian food.  My first exposure to it was in graduate school, long ago, when the Hare Krishna House in the college town where I was working on my Ph.D. would open up one day a week for the public to eat dinner and sample their wares.  To me, it was always and exciting and invigorating adventure.  Krishna's, being vegetarian, made dishes that were EASY for me to try without any worries or qualms, I would literally try any food they had no matter how unrecognizable it was.  Even though I did and do still eat meat on occasion, I have always been a bit nervous about eating meat dishes I did not know because I always had qualms or worries about the cooking methods.  Therefore, the Krishna kitchen was rather a luxury for me, for I could eat without any concern or worry.

Pindi Chole, when done well, is a highly spicy (yes!!!) dish of curried garbanzo beans sauteed and simmered for long period of time.  It is truly wonderful and when I am able to have it, I always feel very contented and joyful.

I may go, this afternoon, to visit my elderly father-in-law.  I hope it will be enjoyable and fun.


Thursday, May 10, 2012


Today, I am physically at probably an A-, and mentally/emotionally, I would say I feel a B- so things are looking up somewhat.  That is a positive.  For the commenters yesterday, I am still digesting the comments and may talk about them more tomorrow or within a few days.  Thank you

Yesterday and this morning, I ran (aka jogged) at least 80% of my 5 mile walk each day.  It is the first time I have been jogging at all since I had gotten sick 10 days ago, and it was a bit challenging, but I did it. I am hoping to keep up with more days of jogging instead of walking, but of course both are acceptable. 

My wife put in some odd yogurt in my lunch today that she picked up at Kroger called "Carrot Cake".  It doesn't taste bad at all, but it is quite a departure from my typical Greek yogurt with honey or my even more typical lime yogurt. 

I had a strangely interesting dream last night that revolved around me having to make an "emergency" teaching and research trip to India (yes, I know, quite an odd emergency).  I was helping a fellow who I was friends with via e-mail over the years in terms of our similar courses we teach and similar research interests.  The emergency entailed some sort of emergency trip he had to make for his wife who was having some sort of complicated surgery in England (in my dream, the surgery and what it was about were vague).  My friend asked me to take over his teaching and research for the last six weeks of his semester so that he could be in England to help with her recovery.

I agreed and quickly made my way to Bangalore, where he is located.  In the dream, he showed me around his U and gave me keys to his office and lab, and took me out and about the neighborhood where his house was located.  He also took me to the merchants nearby and just about a half a block from his lab that surrounded one side of the University.  He showed me three different coffee houses that he liked to frequently visit, especially while having informal, casual discussions with his students.  He also gave me pointers on which tobaccos I would most likely prefer from the wide selection available for the narghile (aka "hubble-bubble") that was available at every table at the coffee shop. 

I then went home (remember, this was a dream, so the finances of the travel did not seem to come into play) to help my wife with packing and other chores we as a family needed to do before heading out India. 

Then my alarm clock went off, and the dream ended. 


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What Purpose?

Brief report on my physical and emotional levels.... Physically, I feel about a B+.  I still have remnants of the cold/flu/respiratory infection from last week, but the two residuals are relatively minor.... a general sense of tiredness and still a fair amount of phlegm from my nasal cavity and my chest, but both are becoming progressively more clear and smaller in quantity.... Emotionally, I would say I am still hovering around a "C" which is not where I want to be, but is ok for now as I keep working on improving.

A part of what I think happens when I go into a bad mood is that I often have a few things happen at once that I believe I do not respond well to.  One of the things I (somewhat grudgingly and surprisingly) do not think I respond well to is open-ended, unfocused time.  When I do not have a plan or a goal in mind, my mind will begin to wander and I have a tendency to ruminate over things.... and it appears that nine times out of ten, those ruminations are about fears, worries, past hurts, past hardships, etc.  When I start to focus on those things, it sours my mood considerably.  I think this has caused a conundrum of sorts for me over the years, and I intuitively realized I am happier when I am busy, but this has developed into me taking on too damn many tasks to fill the time and then I can become overwhelmed with too many deadlines.  I think this has been happening for a while now at work.   I kept piling on new things to keep myself occupied, but then would have so many different "pans in the fire" that I would have to be a magician of sorts to keep them all going adequately and avoid scorching (ruining) something.

What does this mean for me?  What purpose does this nugget of realization serve for me?  I think what I am realizing is that I a) need a variety of purposes/goals/tasks to do in order to have direction to my life and to decrease (perhaps negate?) the negative "rumination" time, b) but I need to have these purposes/goals/tasks be well selected so that I have things to "do" that are both valuable and enjoyable to me across all aspects of my life (work life, family life, individual self), c) and I need to resist (strongly) the desire to "grab onto" every new "opportunity" that comes my way, and be more selective.  I think I have a tendency to do this because I fear "missing out" on something and also because I am much more comfortable starting a project (rather than finishing a project) and also because again I have had reinforcement (feeling better) within myself by starting all these projects that keep me busy and away from ruminating. 

So, how will that work for me today?  I think I am going to continue to pare down and reduce my "projects" and responsibilities as I have been doing this year, but I am also going to do this with the mindset that I *WANT* some projects (that are meaningful and valuable to me) that I will focus on to help me feel a purpose.

I know at some level, the above probably sounds rather obvious and perhaps even a bit stupid to have to reason out like I have.  But, I think that for me at least, it is a realization that has been difficult for me to understand.  Finding a balance is a challenge, but if I can do so, I think it will bear great fruit.


(P.S.  The image on this essay is purposeful (porpiseful?) in that I was playing off the idea of the word purpose and how it would sound with an exaggerated Brooklyn/New Jersey type accent.)  

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Strange and Unclear

Today I am prepared to do battle.  I began to awaken to my alarm clock.  The  feelings I had were pleasant and happy and I felt warm and comforted as I was snuggled up close to my wife.  Yet, then, after becoming fully awake, I started to feel sad again.  The thoughts that came back into my mind were the usual culprits, namely:

1.  Sadness at the shortness of life.
2.  Sadness of things I have done and of things I should have done but did not.
3.  Sadness at missing out on the interactions with my family when I am not there with them (like while at work, or when they are away, or when other time commitments happen).
4.  Sadness about having somehow lost the ability to easily feel carefree and in the moment.
5.  Sadness about all the people I love who have died.

So, it is the same old list of things.  In my mind's eye, I *KNOW* the dwelling on the above is pointless and will only keep me mired in sorrow.  I *KNOW* it intellectually, but to break away from it physically is a much deeper challenge.  But, it really needs to be my focus for when I am not with my family.

With that in mind, I did my walk with greater intensity than usual this morning, and I only had one pipe this morning, so I could more quickly get to the gym at the U.  At the gym, I doubled my typical workout routine and increased the intensity of some of the weights as well.  I know that the physical exertion helps me to work through (or at least ignore) the feelings of sadness.

I am going to now dive in to work and try to work at even the most aggravating tasks with fervor and intensity.   I believe if I must up the fortitude to do this, when I eventually go home this day, I will feel more able to enjoy the precious time I get to spend with my family.

I still think I should be able to figure out an additional method to try to expel the powerfully negative ruminations from my life, but until I figure that out, I think this will help.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Busy at Work

I am back at the U today, feeling physically about a "B+".  Emotionally, I am at a "C", but that is not too bad considering I am working on things I am not excited about at work. 

I am contemplating taking a course in "chip carving" that I found nearby that is coming up in a few weeks.  I have always had a vague interest in carving and whittling, but never pursued it in any way.  This particular class seems potentially up my alley as the focus is on a technique that is especially well suited for making smaller carvings that are typically used as ornaments and/or decorations.  To me, that seems much more likely a level of endeavor that I may be able to maintain and pursue rather than stepping into a "bigger" project of a large carving of some animal or figure. 

I think I will go and see if there are any spaces left for this course, and if so, I may sign up. 


Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Monopoly on Happiness?  

Last night, I had one of the happiest times I have had in weeks.  After Mass (we went on Saturday this week), the family got together to eat dinner, and then afterwards, on the spur of the moment, we decided to play Monopoly together.

The simple joy of having fun playing the game, and just being in each other's company helped me to feel very content and happy.  It felt so very good.  I was able to sleep well, also.


Saturday, May 05, 2012


I have been continuing to do better both physically and emotionally.   I would say my physical self is still at roughly a "B - " grade, and I would say that my emotional health has been about a "C" grade.  So, things are looking up.

Late Friday afternoon I went to help out my elderly father-in-law with some household issues.  Well, initially I did... but they had a power outage due to some fairly severe storms in the county next to where they live.   The lack of power put the kibosh on the work I was planning to help my in-laws with.  So, instead, I simply sat talking with them, which was nice.  And after a bit, my father-in-law and I enjoyed a few beverages and pipes as we continued to talk.   So, although not what I had planned, the afternoon and evening turned out nice.


Friday, May 04, 2012


In my world, being at that percentage earns you a grade of "B-" which is a smattering above average.  It appears that my cold/flu condition has abated and is being fought off well enough by my immune system that the tides have turned and I am starting to feel physically more like my normal self.  I would say that I feel about 80% back to normal physically. 

In terms of my emotional health... well, I can say that it has improved some as well.  I would probably put my emotional health at roughly a 65%.  This equates to a "D" grade in my world, but is a helluva improvement over how I felt the last three days.  I can feel my emotional health starting to return as well.  I am hoping and working to have my emotional health continue to improve. 

What was it all about, you may ask?  It is rather hard to answer.  I think a substantial part of it was triggered as a result of how utterly lousy I felt physically.  I did almost nothing else for two and a half days other than lay in bed and sleep or drank fluids.  I felt truly like I was in a wreck of some kind.  Every muscle in my body ached, my chest ached, my face was inflamed and sore to the touch.  I had an extremely sore throat.  My nose ran constantly, and I was sneezing every 10 minutes or so... not just a typical sneeze, but a huge, monstrous sneeze of the type that makes your nasal cavity ache and burn, and no matter how you try to brace for it, stresses out your lower back muscles.

The physical pains I felt, and the fears about what the hell was happening to me helped my mood to sour as well.  And, laying around drifting in and out of sleep (in-between huge sneezes) allowed my mind the opportunity to ruminate over things in my life.  I unfortunately did not, spend time thinking about the joy and love of my family, nor the happiness I feel when I do a good job.  Instead, I was thinking, ruminating over various failures I have had in my life, I thought about how fleeting life is and how short it is, and I thought about how death was looming around the corner for me and for all those I know and love.  I thought about how much I missed things about the past... my kids when they were young, my parents, the early days of my marriage, the early days of being a professor, my uncles and aunts, days of freedom of spirit and simple joy in the moment.  

As most of you know, I have been working strenuously to simplify my life so I can get back to feeling more carefree, and feel more of the simple joys in the day-to-day.  When I was feeling so very sick, it felt that it was impossible to ever find that route to being carefree and loving and living in the simple joys of day-to-day living.  I came to a point where I felt I had failed, failed at life, and I truly did despise ever fiber of my being for failing myself and failing my family in that way.  I hated myself, and with my hate and fury at myself, I was so angry.  I was so very angry.  I picked fights with my family.  I was.... in a horrible, horrible place in my mind.  It felt like there was no where to turn.

I knew the only course of action that I had was to literally try to wait it out.  After trying to be at the U yesterday, I left after only about 20 minutes and went home physically and emotionally exhausted and slept.  I went to bed, and continued to drink (probably a gallon or more of water and soda) yesterday and forced myself to read so as to not focus on how sad I was.  When I would be so tired that I needed to sleep, I worked as hard as I could to think about what I read instead of going into the ruminations of how I felt, how sad and hopeless I felt.

By last night, I could physically FEEL that my body was less sore, my sneezing abated and my temperature was normal.  The inflammation began to subside as well.

So, I feel I am mending.  I feel more close to my day-to-day self physically and I do not feel the intensity of the self loathing I had been feeling.  Please do not get me wrong.  I still do want to make changes in my life so that I can feel more joy and more care-free moments and days.  After I am more physically back up to snuff, I will continue to make efforts to simplify my day-to-day life and work at finding joy in my life.  I know it is possible to find joy and happiness.  I have a good life.  I just have to work at and reshape some things about myself and about some of my situations that will give me the opportunities to be awash in feelings of contentedness and happiness.


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Same Old 

It is just the same old refrain again.  Physically, I am at least partially over the illness (cold or flu, it really doesn't matter a whole helluva lot what it was).  However, I still feel quite run down and nauseous.  So, things appear on the mend.

Emotionally, I am completely spent.  I am just trying to go through the motions of what I should be doing, until I leave.  Then I will likely crawl into bed.  At some point, my spirits may lift.  I hope so.

I have a lot of anger, a lot of disappointment, a lot of sadness, a lot of frustration, and a lot of aggravation. They seem to overwhelm me.  I try to tell myself that everyone experiences this sh*t, so why in the hell should I be complaining about anything?  So, why do I complain?  Why am I so utterly without joy?

I hate myself.  I despise myself.  Yet, why do I not have even one milligram of feelings of joy or at least contentment?    Where did all that go?  It feels like it is lost forever to me. 

Sunday was a nice day.  A busy but calm day where I felt love.  Monday I became sick with this damn cold or flu and my world lost all its love.  There is no joy.  I cannot see any joy.

I miss life.  I feel as if I am dead.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Still Sick

I am still feeling really rough around the gills.  However, added to this general illness, I am also feeling quite angry and upset at myself and disappointed in myself as well. 

If I were to talk about my feelings for myself to day, it would be simply that I hate and despise myself.  I dislike what I do, and I dislike how I behave.  I was angry today to people that did not need my anger and I am ashamed of that.  I have apologized, but apologies are only a bandaid, for the wound is still there. 

I had so many hopes and dreams and desires for this Spring and Summer.  I feel like a failure and I truly despise myself and everything about me.  If I could easily manage to curl up in a hole and die, I probably would do so. 

I am trying to just wait and the sadness will likely pass, the shame will diminish, the self loathing will decline.  I am at a loss on what to think or do anymore. 


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Still Under the Weather

I have phlegm and mucous coming out of every orifice in my body. I am going to try to sleep the entire day again much like I did after leaving yesterday.