Art of the Problem

I received a text message this morning from my old doctoral adviser at UNCG, Dennis.  Not old as in decrepit, but old as in I graduated, now he’s just a regular old-fashioned mentor.  And I’m blessed to have him, and especially blessed to have graduated. Anyway, the text message read, “art of the problem.”  That’s a bit of a cryptic way to start a Saturday.  That’s not to say he and I haven’t shared our Luke-vs-Yoda moments.  But most of those mentor moments happened in the context of… something. I stared at my phone for a second and realized that it, being legitimately old and decrepit, was just getting things out of order.  Sure enough, a few minutes later, the first half of the text message arrived, putting the fragment into perspective.  The sentence that got clipped was, “…that was part of the problem.” But it got me thinking about my relationship with my mentors, my students, learning, and the world in general.  One of the things I’ve been taught, and try to pass on to those around me is perseverance through tough times.  Don’t plan to fail, but plan to recover when you do.  Recover and move on knowing that you can move on, and how to not fail the next time. In some cases, not failing means just don’t do it again.  Like sticking a fork into an electrical outlet, as I did when I was about 5.  I don’t need to do it again to know the inevitable result. Other cases mean being prepared, doing something differently, or just knowing what to accept as normal.  Like...

Let’s Do the Timewarp

I finished grad school.  You might guess that I was busy during that experience.  If you did guess that, you are a very intelligent and beautiful person.  And gifted.  And certainly blessed.  But if you didn’t guess that, you’re probably right too. I had a job interview in Winston-Salem yesterday.  I showed them my card, which lists some of the gazillion hobbies I have, and was asked, “How do you DO that much stuff?”  And I guess the answer is that up until recently, I took advantage of my unstructured time by structuring it.  I took up crafts like pottery, or learned to make cheese and beer and bread, or worked on my “vintage” motorcycle.  And yes, vintage is in quotes because the bike isn’t so much a collector’s item as it is an old pain in the ass. But lately I have two modes: at work, and not at work.  I still do a good amount, but I waste a lot more time than I did in grad school. This is a recent realization, and I think I want to do something about it.  Like, get back to pottery.  Practice tuba and or banjo more.  Or write on my blog more regularly. For instance, to tell you about my business card and why it’s so rad.  Or what I was doing interviewing in Winston-Salem. But I guess the truth is that I don’t want life to slip away because I’m not paying attention.  Or because life has become too predictable. You can get your skills back at playing, pottery, cooking, etc.  You can’t get time...

Connections

I remember in kindergarten I had a friend named Patty.  We were going to be friends forever, she and I.  I remember how all my best friends in high school were forever, though being guys we weren’t all sappy about it.  In college, those were my friends that would last a lifetime.  No, no, it was grad school where I met the friends who would be with me forever… And in all of this prognosticating I failed to notice that the friends I was making that would last forever weren’t from a place, or a time.  They just happened to be at that place and time, but the ones who I’m still close with I would be close with if I’d met them at any time. This isn’t really a blog post about friends.  I’m so very lucky to have the ones I have, and I can’t imagine my path being any different than the one I’m on.  Instead, this a post about predictions.  Like, stop making them.  They’re wrong.  Look around right now and enjoy it. I went with Jenna to an alumni function of hers, and we had a really good time.  There were lots of good people there, and as much as we were there to see the game, we were really there to meet people.  And maybe something will come of those connections, maybe not.  We were there to open doors and to have a good time. And we really did have a good time. I hate the term “network” when it’s used as a verb.  People go to functions to “network.”  I go for...

Nice

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit.  It’s not that I haven’t had plenty to say, it’s that most of it involves whining.  And you, dear reader, deserve better than that.  You deserve whining with a MESSAGE. Many of us are aware of the debacle about conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and his use of the word “slut” to refer to any woman who thinks about autonomy.  For those not in the know, he was basically an awful person.  He was an awful person to a (by all outward signs) nice person, on the air to his gajillion listeners. That’s not new.  What is new is that his advertisers are starting to distance themselves from his rhetoric.  Maybe  he crossed some sort of line somewhere.  Some sort of line that is beyond the regular common-decency line. And yeah, I have a lot to say about the whole situation, but what really gets me is how we as a society have stopped valuing “nice” as a core value.  I read an article on NPR about the disappearance of “please” and “thank you” from common language.  I know that I still make a point of using those words, but now that I think about it, I don’t hear them a lot in my day-to-day conversations. One of the things about being nice is that you don’t get to win.  You don’t get instant gratification for being nice.  Maybe “we” get to win, which is better from many perspectives, but being nice means you don’t get to have it your way.  It means waiting.  It means not saying everything you...