Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Some disconnected ramblings

But maybe, on some level, connected.

I finished the first gift-mitt last night. It looks good; I will start the second tonight. Then I have to try to figure out the critters for my niece.

I also made plans (not TENTATIVE plans, darnit: I'm not going to let something work-related derail me this time) for the weekend: I am going to first cast my ballot (we have no-explanation-required early-voting here; all you have to do is swear (or affirm) that you will not try to vote on Tuesday, and frankly, I wouldn't want to vote twice in this election even if it were legal for me to, so) and then I am going to go antiquing. And I'm going to run to the Bed Bath and Beyond for my father's Christmas present (I have a 20% off coupon* which makes it even better). And I'm maybe going to hit the craft stores and just see if there are any cute/simple/fun crafts that I can work on when I'm just tired. (I might buy a latch-hook kit yet).

(*I dreamed last night that my plans got very confused; that I was sitting watching a re-run of Pony and then was like "Oh heck the polls opened at 9 and I forgot!" and I wound up standing in line for a long time and then not having the stuff I needed for shopping. So I took the coupon and a couple others I have and put them in the car this morning, so I will be sure not to forget them)

And I am going to the Target. I am going to look at all their Christmas decorations (I understand they have them out already) and probably buy a string or two of what British English so enchantingly calls "fairy lights**" and put them up in my house. And take the timer I have over here that didn't work (because three-pronged plug) and put the lights on a timer, and set it so they come on maybe 10-15 minutes before I am due to get home, because it's just nice to come home to light.

(**And cupcakes are sometimes called "fairy cakes")

And yes, I know, it's early. And I know, people around here would say, "How Yankee of you" to decorate so early. But you know what? It's been a seriously ugly year and seriously ugly things have happened, and people have been seriously ugly to one another and I just want some bright and pretty and sweet and nice surrounding me. And maybe having that around me will help keep ME bright and sweet and nice and be more prone to forgive people and less prone to snap back at people.

Because it's been a rough week. Monday, there was my mini-meltdown (as much as I ever allow myself to melt down in front of a class) over no SPSS. And then there was the "campus preacher" and let me tell you, I have learned more about it:

 - This is a known guy. I'm not going to give his name here to possibly avoid websearches (he's one of those who apparently funds himself partly via nuisance lawsuits, so) but yeah, he's a known guy.

- He, or people of his ilk, used to show up on the campuses of Michigan and Illinois State when I was there. They were bigger campuses and more inured to "crazy," so most of the students, their reaction was to walk a little faster past the guy and maybe roll their eyes as they passed. A few people, mostly theology students or the very brave, would ask questions of the guy.

This guy in particular - I think he's one of the ones who has resurrected a weird old heresy (Heh: "Campus preacher uses one weird old heresy....") about how people can somehow make themselves sinless....I'm more of a traditional Christian and I look at that and go "Doesn't quite work that way."

But whatever. I think our students were more reactive towards him because (a) this hasn't happened here, at least not in the time I've been here and (b) a lot of our students are pretty active in churches and to have someone coming on campus saying hateful things or things that contradict the religious teaching they have had for years, makes them want to question him.

Anyway, the guy showed up at one of our sister schools yesterday but apparently they were expecting him, and it *just so happened* that the marching band needed to be rehearsing in the same area where the guy set up. (hah. Hahahahahaha.) Okay, maybe that still counts as a heckler's veto, I don't know, but the footage I saw showed the students dancing and grooving with the music, and it was a rather different tone. And anyway: apparently the guy filed false paperwork as to what his reasons for coming on to campus were, and I tend to feel in cases like that, maybe a heckler's veto isn't so terrible.

(And also, they've kind of amended the story from my campus: in fact, there was NO violence. Maybe a little pushing and shoving, and a lot of students shouting questions at the guy, but no one got "violent." Not that I would expect that on my campus)

And then last night: was expecting a new NCIS, didn't get it. Though for a valid reason: the World Series went to a sixth game. And I didn't watch the game, can't stay up that late, so I got up this morning figuring, "Cleveland will be celebrating today" and then checked the news and was like "Holy cow."

I have to say I hope the Cubs win it - my dad is a life-long Cubs fan and the last time they went to the World Series (IIRC), my dad was about 10. So it would be really nice for him to get to see them win it.

(But, and this is how superstitious 2016 has made me: I am hoping this is not some kind of "now I can die happy thing" or that the Cubs winning - if they do - ushers in some kind of Weirdpocalypse because it's been so long - 108 years - since they won a World Series).

But anyway. I watched the re-run NCIS (and we won't get one next week: election returns, and you can bet I'll either be tucked up in bed, reading, or watching cartoons instead). It was the one about the depressed disabled soldier (and there was a gunrunning plot in there too). Anyway, towards the end - this was one of those "advocacy" episodes, which are usually not the best - there was talk of music-therapy for the disabled veterans (which is actually a real thing; this episode was an Awareness Day type of thing). Anyway, at the end, they played a bit of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which tends to be a much-used song. And I admit; it's a song that always makes me tear up a little.

But as I commented on Twitter, they rarely play my favorite verse of it (though Willie Nelson's version has it

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

And I don't think that's a pessimistic verse AT ALL. In fact, I think in some ways, it describes me when I'm at my best: I try to do my best, even if my "best" is very small and what good I can do maybe gets subsumed by a larger evil in the world: I still did my best, even if it wasn't much.

And that last bit, that's the part I really like: "And even though it all went wrong/ I'll stand before the Lord of Song" because I imagine that is what it will be like when I'm called to account, at the end of my life, for what I did in it - I will throw up my ethereal hands and say "I tried***"

And I also think there's almost a little sort of defiance in those last lines - that even though everything around you may go wrong, you don't have to go with it; you can keep striving to do good. (Maybe I'm over interpreting, I don't know). But yeah. At my best, I can go through a day where it felt like everything went wrong, and maybe at the end of the day cry a little bit or curse a little bit about it, but then I get up the next morning and go, "I will try again today."

And also I think that verse includes something I need to remember: sometimes stuff is just out of your control. I was embarrassed that SPSS hadn't been installed on the computers, but you know what? That wasn't MY failure, that was IT forgetting to get up here and do it. And the guy coming on campus and causing unrest, and the local news reporting it as a "violent protest" - I had nothing to do with the clickbaity nature of current news, and while I may wind up experiencing fallout from it, it is not my fault. And part of my problem is that I do tend to treat things out of my control as being under my control, and I tend to spin out into "Monitor EVERYTHING!" territory, sometimes I do need just to acknowledge that I can do my best and stuff will go wrong because that's just how the world IS...

But that doesn't mean that I can't deal with the things I do control. And part of that, this weekend, will be making my house feel more bright and pleasant and cozy against the coming darker days.

(***And while I generally liked the character of Yoda, I always found, "Do or do not, there is no try" annoying because OF COURSE you can try something and not pull it off, and that's NOT equal to not having done it. Not having done it is refusing or not trying - accepting you are defeated from the get-go. Trying and failing is, IMHO, more noble. Even though I really hate failing at stuff and try really hard to avoid it)

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