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Today my friend Mel joined the Roman Cathoic church as a full member--that happens for adults at the Easter Vigil mass, and she invited Rowan and me to attend. She had us sit in the seats reserved for the family of those being baptized and confirmed at the mass. So we went, and sat with her son Elijah, in those reserved seats.

It was beautiful church. It is Historic St. John's in Utica. I found out, during the mass, that it is the church that is now the home of the church in which I was baptized (St. Francis de Sales), because when the diocese closed St. Francis's, it was considered that that parish merged with St. John's. That makes sense--they were only 6 blocks apart. Utica is a very Catholic city. From my flat it is less than an half hour's walk to the parish of St. Joseph and St. Patick, less than 2 minutes to Holy Trinity, and 1/2 an hour to St. John's. If St. Francis was still operating, that would be less than 5 minutes.

So, I went to mass. I'm not sure anyone reads LiveJournal anymore, but if you are Catholic you will be horrified to find that I took communion today, but haven't taken the sacrament of confession in…maybe 20 years. And even that may be understating it. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Either your condemnation, or my going to the altar. But I did it, and I don't believe it was a wrong thing to do.

My sense of God, of salvation, if very mixed. But tonight, in that place, a great many things of wonder, and joy, happened for me. Many things I lost, I may have found a way back to. That matters. And so, on this Easter eve…I feel a peace I have not felt since…a horrible Sunday afternoon, a million years ago... Yesterday.


(to be expanded on at a later time)

It's bad that it's two weeks before classes start and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Meeting today, tomorrow, Thursday, Monday--all before faculty are supposed to be back. And every time I try to draw a line in the sand (with the support of my direct report), someone yanks me over it. I'm already done with semester, and it hasn't even started yet. On top of which it those same committments have eroded all the time I planned to spend researching and doing the first draft of a keynote address I have to give in March. I'm frustrated, tense, and feel that anxiety tightness in my chest that usually hits the second or third week in the semester after I've screwed up a class (session) for the first time that semester and doesn't leave until usually the last week of break. And now, 10 days before that, here it is, fully formed.

Yeah, I know. First world problems. I have a roof, food, job, acceptable level of health for someone 380 days from her 60th birthday. But there's something wrong when after 2 weeks "off" your best friend looks at you and says "You look exhausted."


Apparently I have no patience, no filters, and no tolerance for what I define as inconsiderate behavior. I think I'll be back here for awhile on the couch with a few good friends, because the cocktail party/dorm common room that is Facebook has been pushing my buttons for big time lately, and I don't like who I'm becoming there.

She's baaaack.

Now if I can just remember how to post and link here.....

It's a funny old world

So, in that way of things, I made a comment on a friend's post on Facebook. He's an old friend from college days, and one of the nicest human beings I had the pleasure to meet while I was part of an industry known more for its backbiting, selfishness, and neurosis than kindness. One of his friends responded to my comment--she thought it was "hilarious!" He then told her that "You would LOVE Rosemary, Alison."

It actually is kind of cool. The Alison is better known as Laura Ingall's nemesis Nellie Oleson from the Little House on the Prarie TV series.

The world is a funny place.

Not happy

Okay, let's list the good stuff:

New house--good. Maybe let's stay here a moment on this thread.

I was never wild about the place on Old River Road. When we visited it I thought it was in a pretty spot, nice house. But I said, privately, to Morguhn and Rowan, "It's too big. It needs too much work. The upkeep will be a monster, including the yard. And it's too far from work and practice." I never changed my mind about any of those things.

Ironically, I finally started thinking of that Caer as "home" just a couple of weeks before the house killed Morguhn. And, yes, that is how I think of it. Is the reality that Morguhn's tendency to take some shortcuts are what killed him? Probably. I still blame the house. The house I didn't want. Sue me.

The new house has issues. It isn't perfect. For one--it's in Utica. But, that aside, it has virtues of location (see above), manageable yard space (see above), is pretty (see above), and each of us has a manageable space. The upkeep will be a bit of an issue (it is over one-hundred years old, after all), but I really think I've traded up. And, did I mention, I am no longer TRAPPED in my home. It is now a refuge, but I can leave it after dark to drive to the store, a movie, campus…if I choose. That is huge. As is the fact that the mortgage is more than covered by what I used to pay in the oil bill and gas for the car. I win.

More good--my job. I love my job. I love teaching. I love my students. It took me a long time to get here, but now I am, and it's good. It isn't perfect. But it's good. I have some wonderful colleagues.

Health. Pretty decent for a 58 (*gasp*) year old American. Need to see the dentist, but otherwise, pretty solid. Minor complaints, some chronic, some new, but, hey, compared to others I know, and family history, I'm putting this in the "win" column.

Social. Good, high quality friends. Some of whom live in the same city (though you'd never know, given how little I see them physically). That's partially my fault, but not entirely. They are good friends, but we have very different…social comfort zones. I've come to accept that. There are other friends I have, in other cities, who I know I would spend more time with if we lived closer. But we don't, so there's no sense in whining about it.

So why am I in such a pissy mood.

Partly I blame Obama. And Cuomo. And, no, I'm not being ironic. My profession, my life's endeavor, is under attack, but in such a subtle way that many people don't realize it. I calculate about another 12 years in the profession, if my health holds out. I think I can tolerate it that long. I feel genuine pity and fear for my younger colleagues. We had a Senate meeting today, and two of my colleagues--one faculty female, one non-faculty male (one of our accountants no less) who were so passionately opposed to something that the State is doing to higher education that they nearly had everyone in tears.

I am so over-extended that I can't believe I let this happen. I know HOW it happened, but the "chickens have come home to roost" this semester, and I'm at my wit's end. I am lucky that both my Dean and my Vice President like and value me, but there are unintended consequences of that. Fortunately, my Dean is one of the best human beings I know. He agrees with me that I am doing too much, and we talked today about people, more junior faculty, who A) need the work for promotion purposes and B) would be capable to step in and take over some of what I do.

And…well. My social network in Utica….Not really. Good. I miss people I can just hang out with and feel safe. And talk about ideas. Truth be told, I miss the kind of relationships I had in grad school. Where "after work" we'd hang out, and talk, and laugh. Occasionally do things as a gang, or hang out in each other's living rooms. And that happens in some academic communities, but not MV's. And my SCA friends in Utica, well…sometimes they're a little too…acerbic…for my taste. I don't mind trashing dead philosophers as much as I mind trashing living strangers. It's just me, I know. But, well…

So, there you have it. I'm in a pissy mood, and when you look at it objectively, I have a pretty great life.

Tomorrow will be better. After all, tomorrow I get to torture my students with another film they'll hate. ;-)
Right now, I'm watching Galaxy Quest, because no one plays a better Leonard Nimoy than Alan Rickman (sorry Zachary Quinto).

"Change is the essential process of all existence," Spock once said. Death is change, and that Mr. Nimoy, by the evidence of my own eyes an artist in many fields, and by all accounts a human being of inspiring empathy and passion, should die is inevitable. Yesterday, he did. On Facebook I put pictures, but no words. Changed the banner on my page. Changed my profile picture. Put up one of the saddest pictures I've ever seen. But no words.

I've known he was seriously ill for some time. I read when he disclosed his COPD. I've followed him on Twitter. Saw his announcements slowly, inexorably scaling back. Read the posts that spoke of time, and beauty, and impermanence. And, the logical part of my brain said "He is in his 80's. It is coming."

So I was not surprised. Still, when I saw the announcements, 20 minutes before I was to walk into film class and face 60 students, many of whom probably hated the film I showed on Wednesday (White Heat, Warner Bros., 1949), it took some effort to not walk in red-eyed and unable to function. A man I never met died, and it rocked me to the core.

I remember with crystaline clarity when I "met" Leonard Nimoy, in the alter ego of Mr. Spock, First Officer of the United Federation Starship Enterprise, NCC-1701. When the TV Guide for Premier Week came out, as usual, Daddy, Momma, and I (9 years old, and able to stay up until 10 o'clock now that I was in 4th grade!) went through it and marked the shows we wanted to watch, especially the "new" shows that we were going to "try out." For Thursday, Momma and I had marked Tarzan at 7:30, which meant Daddy lost out on F Troop at 8:00. But, we were pretty much in agreement to try out the show on NBC at 8:30--something called Star Trek. We had watched CBS's Lost in Space the night before (now in its second season). It was okay, but while I liked it fine, Mom and Dad weren't too impressed. Still, it was better than the other offerings.

So once Ron Ely finished swinging through the trees (still my favority Tarzan, by the way), we settled in for the new show. My little brother was asleep by then, and we just sat around our little round table, and watched the show.

When it was over, Daddy took the TV Guide and said "I guess we know what we're watching Thursday nights." Momma and I enthusiastically agreed. We were all three fans until the end of the third year, even though we knew that much of the third season was horrible. I remember the day I came home from school and my mother told me with great excitement that William Shatner had appeared on Jeopardy! that afternoon to thank everyone who wrote in to protest NBC's announcement that the show was going to be cancelled, and to announce the network had retracted that decision. It was the first thing she said to Daddy when he came home, and he said, "I know, it was on the radio in the car." He had a pleased smile on his face. If my parents' had had the money, I if I knew they existed, I know they would have given me any Star Trek toy I asked for. They did get me the model kit for the NCC-1701, but I got too discouraged by my imperfect efforts. It is still partially constructed in a box somewhere. But I digress.

My childhood, like most childhoods, was not easy. When I relate my experiences to some people, they always seem to say things like, "My childhood was rough, but nothing like yours." Maybe so. I have no scale of reference. But I do know that Spock saved me.

I think I realized, even before "Amok Time," that it was not, as McCoy often claimed, that Spock was emotionless. It was that Spock was determined not to let his pain, his passion, his frustration, his fear control him--he would be in control. He would think his way through, around whatever challenges were presented to him. His body, his emotions, would not control him--his mind would. And so, I became Spock. A pre-adolescent female human took as her role model and mentor a half-human Vulcan male. As did hundreds of thousands of others.

And I did it so completely, so perfectly, that it terrified my mother. I remember the day she exploded in frustation, "Stop being Spock. You can't keep all of that inside--it will destroy you!"

But while my Momma was wise, and right, about many things, about that one thing, she was wrong.

Yesterday, Leonard Nimoy died. He brought into perfect instantiation the creation of Gene Roddenberry--the conscience of the Enterprise, and, to many extents, the Federation of Planets: the brilliant, loyal, compassionate, logical son of Sarek and Amanda. That character SAVED MY LIFE AND SANITY by giving me hope, and a path, that enabled me to live through childhood sexual abuse at the hand of a trusted man; an alcoholic father; a chronically, ultimately terminally ill brother;  a mother who existed on the verge of death due to too many illnesses to list here; and crippling poverty.

I owe Gene Roddenberry, and Leonard Nimoy, more than I can ever express or repay.

Hmmm. Need to really think this one through

I got some of the best papers I've ever gotten for the EN 101 argument paper from ONE of my sections. I did a number of things differently for the two sections, and the high performing section was a unique population. I need to really think through everything that was different and try to understand what factors are most likely the significant contributors to the quality difference.

And are they duplicatable?


Last night when I got the news about Ashley, I was numb. When I finally fell asleep, I had progressed to stunned.
This morning...well, let's just say, numbed and stunned were better.

But Linda is right, "Today is a day for hiding. And comfort food. And feeding stray cats. And taking care of people you love. And putting on panties. And forgiving your family. And having the courage to love again. And having the courage to embrace your sorrow.

Because that's what she did."

So I asked Rowan if she wanted to meet at the DEV after work. And sent out an invite to friends to meet us there.


You're proud of me

"Because I didn't drunk-post last night. You know my motto--never drink and write."
"Trust me on this. Not. A. Good. Idea."
"But I want to hear what you have to say."
"No. You don't. Trust me on this."
"No. Just no. Just be proud and move on. It's really better for everyone this way."
"Ummmm. Okay. I guess. But..."
"But what?"
"After you drunk post, there's usually cookies. I really want a cookie."
"Have a cookie. I got them from the "Drunk Post Free" aisle--right next to the gluten free ones."

Not my best

Bills paid. Only one a little late. Except I'm not sure I got a bill. Because of STUPID postal carriers who keep misdelivering mail.

Managed to not flame any of my friends, multiples of whom posted incredibly stupid shit on Facebook. Go me. (No, if you can see this, I don't mean you.)

Have many thinky-thoughts about new house, new life, new patterns. No time yet. Must unpack boxes.

Kitty drama has been…traumatic for kitty and human. I'm hoping we've hit a holding pattern since we readjusted meds. We'll see how he manages with my going to the workshop. I'm cutting it short just in case. No Philly Museum for me this trip. I was really looking forward to going again on Saturday. Oh well. At least there will be dinner with friends.

Still trying to decide how much I miss television. And football. I haven't seen a football game yet this year and it's KILLING me. I want the news, and football, and those just aren't really available without live TV (at least not safely or legally, and I AM my daddy's little girl--he'd drive back to a store if he found out they gave him too much change back).

Okay, time for bed, because tomorrow I still have to clean up, pack, get the rental, and drive to Philly. That part doesn't bother me. It's getting from the outskirts into city center. I've gone down there 3 times now, but only as a passenger. Given that experience, I have NO desire to drive it myself, but, well, that's what's happening tomorrow. Pray for me.