Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday morning things

* After this morning I will be done with teaching for the semester (give an exam in the two sections of one class tomorrow, Friday is just student presentations). Yes, there's still grading to be done, but at least I can give my voice a rest.

* Had an entertaining (and possibly enlightening) dream as the last dream last night - it involved the NCIS staff (well, I watched the episode last night - it was a Season 13 rerun but I had not seen it, the one with Ducky's half-brother). Anyway, they (plus a couple of IRL friends I have) were all working in my department and for some reason offices were getting rearranged/redecorated. At one point I joked that a hammock should be put up in a shared office where there was someone who liked to nap at their desk.  There was also a French bulldog puppy. But the biggest thing was at one point Ellie Bishop took me aside and said, "I know DiNozzo and McGee tease you and bug you a lot, but that's really because they like you and don't know how to show it." (Not "like-like," just regular like, but still).

And while dreams are probably little more than the subconscious sorting its recycling, sometimes I wonder if my brain does give me a bit of a deeper truth. (I had some students sort of gently teasing me in class the other day and I never know how to respond to that. I generally either weakly laugh or roll my eyes and do the sarcastic "har de har har" depending. But a lot of times I think some of the young male students don't quite know how to relate to me - I'm not quite "one of the guys" so they can't treat me the same way they treat the male professors, and a lot of them were raised in pretty traditional families (where you showed older women a bit more respect) but they also don't really have a good pattern for relating to a woman who is not their mom or grandma).

I dunno. Human relationships are messed up a lot of the time because so many of us are taught not to show affection when we might feel it - that it's "uncool" or that the "philios" or "agape" type of love might be interpreted otherwise. And yeah, I've heard the "this person is busting your chops because they like you" thing a lot around here, and I admit I have a hard time working around it because it's not really how things worked in my family, and I was teased enough (in a hostile way) by my peers as a child that I immediately default to the "this person is trying to make me look small and put me down" thing when someone teases me. Then again: it probably says something that my students are comfortable enough with me to tease me a little; they know I won't grade them down for it or snark back at them.

* I did have one student e-mail me to thank me for notifying them of the other student's death - she had been his lab partner a couple times and said she was totally shocked by the news (as was I). So I guess I did the right thing there.

So much of adulthood is making it up as you go along and having to trust your gut on things.

* I tentatively think the couple of changes I made (cutting out the loratidine, taking the other antihistamine with food rather than before breakfast, and especially exercising in the afternoons) are really helping my general well-being. I am less achy (I suppose that's from exercising after your muscles have been warmed up by the day) and so far, my stomach has been FAR better (though then again: the episode before Thanksgiving could have been hormonal or I could have contracted another dumb little virus).

I also wonder if a lot of this past year's malaise has been me going through the start of (or the entire process, who knows) menopause. I had days of awful brain fog, I had abdominal cramping, I had complete and total loss of appetite on some days, I had really weepy days, I had weeks where friends were telling me, "Maybe you need to go on an anti-depressant," I had a couple of things that, had they been worse, I would have called them panic attacks. (I guess force-of-will is a thing. I kept telling myself, "You have no reason to be this anxious, this is just your body going a little haywire" and eventually things settled down). I had times when NOTHING interested me to do and that was the scariest thing because normally I'm going off in eighteen different directions with different interests and I hoped it wasn't a sign of something really bad - but this past week I've snapped back to normal so I am wondering if it's stupid hormonal whipsawing. And if it is, I hope it's over, or at least over for a while. And I had times when I felt like nothing would make me happy but fortunately that's gone away, too.

* First card is going out today but it has to go "across the pond" so I need to send it early. I have to get glitter for some of the other cards because for the Bunny Staplus exchange we were asked our "favorite tradition" and several people I got said glitter-filled cards, so okay. (If I go shopping this weekend I can probably pick some up at the Target or somewhere).

I also have one or two little gifts I need to package up and send out. Yes, it's early, but I would like to hear that the people got them before I leave for break. 

And yeah: if I send out a gift to someone I don't expect a gift in return. (And you have to be careful about that because some people do feel obligated). If I give someone a random gift (as in, we haven't exchanged gifts before) it's either because (a) I saw something I thought they would like or could use and I wanted them to have it or (b) they seemed to need a little cheering up and I wanted to take a stab at it.

* Am up to the WWI part in the Influenza book I am reading. Much is made of the push to prevent/avoid "unpatriotic" behavior, including harassment and, in some cases, imprisonment-without-cause of German-Americans (I wince, because half of my dad's family is German-American and now I wonder what the Huttmans went through in that era....). And also Wilson's push to somewhat censor the press, and the extremely creepy coercion used to get people to buy War Bonds. And while I get that history is often exaggerated to fit the needs of the writer, still - I don't know much about that era and I didn't realize how creepy it was. (And also, shuddering a bit, because while history may not repeat itself, it often rhymes, and I see some things in our own times that could be taken as similar. I also wonder if maybe "understanding" or "knowing" a little history is going to become popular again....for so long it seemed pop culture was pretty ahistorical and the general man-on-the-street idea was that "history is bunk" (a la Henry Ford). But the thing is: it's possible to learn from your own past mistakes but it's also possible to learn from OTHERS' past mistakes, and generally that second option is less painful. I don't know. Some of the calls I have seen from certain individuals to restrict the press, or to jail those who would burn the me it does smack slightly of Wilsonian attitudes. I don't like someone burning our flag but don't like abridgement of free protest speech even more, so....)

I dunno. I tend to come down on the side of "the more you know the better off you are" whether that "knowing" is being aware of your country's history, or being able to speak a language other than your mother-tongue, or being able to darn socks, or being able to accurately estimate weight or distance. Not-knowing allows a certain helplessness to creep in, and I tend to think self-reliance is a good thing.

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