Saturday, January 28, 2023

Let's get one more post throwed up before February, shall we?

Things have been intense, but good, at school. Moments of happiness have snuck up and startled me as I walk across campus to a lecture or have a great exchange wherein the students are engaged and seem to be learning as well as actually enjoying my classes. I feel so blessed, so fortunate that I had that right place/right time moment that allowed me to step into my dream teaching job at the last moment in Fall '22. Since I'm not tenure-track faculty, I don't have a guarantee of a job from year to year. I am hopeful that I will be offered a job for next year, but I'm also realistic about the space I occupy in the firmament, which is the last-hired. I'm just praying for another year (and possibly others) of riding this wave. If I'd had any idea I'd enjoy teaching at college level, I would have gotten it together decades ago.*

I am teaching some new classes this semester, so it's a bit of a scramble. I do far, far more reading and research, probably triple or quadruple the reading I assign to my students, but it must be done. And I am enjoying the heck out of it. I've spent about 8 hours last week doing research for a 50 minute lecture I'm to give on Monday and part of Wednesday. Worth it. I want to be clear and thorough, so I'm trying to front-load as much of that as possible. 

On the whole, it's been fun finding my way. I like this work, and even as I do this research and my own learning, I find that it's had a galvanizing effect on my own view of things-- I feel my opinions are on the most sound footing of my life. This is a good feeling. 

I will try to write again soon. It's nice to have this tiny little corner of the web to park my thoughts. It's nice to feel optimistic, and to feel that something into which I'm pouring my heart is having a positive impact on one or two students.  Onwards and upwards. 

*who am I kidding? I still would have been the cricket who played all summer. Anyway. Fun to play philosopher, in any case. 

Sunday, January 08, 2023

A bumpy start to the year...

    Four people I know or knew died in the last two weeks. Three were elderly, but one was younger than me, a wonderful person in great health, and died in his sleep. The elderly folks were the loveliest and best of people, and will be dearly missed by our church. It's a jarring start to the year, really.  I went down to the Dallas area late last week and had some precious time with Mom. We went to one of the funerals, but I will, sadly, not be able to attend the other three. 

    Meanwhile, Prince Harry is having a very public meltdown in which he has un-dealt-with issues lingering from many sad turns in his life. Many people who were young when they tragically lost a parent can relate to his grief over the loss of his mother. I'm sure that loss was compounded by the very public nature of her passing. But as Lottie says in Enchanted April, "it's important to get on with one's loving." Bad feelings happen in families and friendships, but it's crucial to face those situations, dismiss whatever is petty and may be ignored, and get on with agreeing to disagree, if necessary, and to love each other in spite of those differences. Life is simply too short.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 
Olde English Version
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne 

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Happy new year, folks!

 Hard to believe, but here is 2023. May it be a better year for good people than was 2022.

School begins two weeks from Tuesday. A fair bit of time during the break has been consumed by unpleasant but necessary obligations. I did get to spend some nice time with friends and family, and that made the holidays more cherished for me. 

This morning I heard from a good friend in Belgium. I asked how all their folks were doing, mentioning I'd heard concerns for a cold winter and scarcity of or phenomenal expense of heating fuel. He said that it's been mild lately. I hope that's not just the calm before the storm. Brutal cold is terrible, I know, but it seems especially hard on the old and the very young. Also, the riots in Paris are troubling, perhaps mostly because they are being called "protests" when they are clearly, you know, riots. Footage of motorists being pulled from their cars and those cars set ablaze is to be found on some outlets online, but not the mainstream ones in the USA, as far as I know. We can't have people distracted from the narrative currently being advanced related to social engineering and all that sort of stuff. The "interesting times" of the Chinese proverb seem at hand, sadly.

Anyway, I spent today cleaning and cleaning and organizing. I have much to do in these two weeks, including a quick trip to Virginia for a writer's convention. I need to hit all the marks every day to make sure I don't drop any of the balls I'm juggling. Mostly, I'm blessed and am making progress, but sometimes, it seems slow, plodding. Not complaining, except for the bullet-train effect of the passage of time, particularly when one has a break from routine. 

All in all, though, as I said in the beginning, I am hoping for the best for all of us. I'm not foolish enough to expect the best, but I feel one should not abandon hope. 

In the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

“If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us. But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us.”

I'm not driving blind into dark waters, exactly, but I am trying to learn from mistakes. I don't have control over the rest of the world, and how life will unfold for us as a civilization. I keep hoping that it will correct itself, that what appears mass psychosis in which we celebrate mental illness and vilify people who try to live by a strict and respectful code in life becomes something we're looking at in the waves behind us, disappearing in the rear-view mirror. But in the end, my own behavior is all I can control, and is the only thing for which I am accountable. I pray for self-governance, and to be a help and support to those I love. If I succeed on that score, I'll count myself doubly blessed for having been useful to those I most hold dear. I can't ask for greater than that.