Frantic Doesn't Help

There's a lot to do and learn, a whole bunch of uncertainty, and more than the usual number of things gnawing on my mind, so how about I get frantic. Yeah, that'll help.

I've had a half-caffeine coffee this morning and trouble sleeping last night. Maybe that has something to do with the worry and panic coming to a boil within me. I'm like a pan of rice. The water in me is boiling, I've added the dry rice of my to-do list, and though I've lower the heat some my anxiety continues to bubble and boil. The boiling water is flushed out from under the lid by the pressure and it hisses in the flames of the burner, maybe blowing them out, poison gas filling my kitchen.

A morning such as this, I've put the top on but things threaten to boil over. I have choices: hold the cover down in hopes the heat slackens or cock the lid to let some heat and pressure escape. There's only one sensible choice, but I push down on the cover wishing trouble away.

Okay, maybe I'm not that dumb. In the midst of this rising panic, I switched from rushing through work, boiling in my anxiety, to writing this. That may leave space between pan and lid, allow steam to quietly escape, and bring down the pressure. Maybe.

I keep running into that word: maybe. I wonder if it comes from feeling doubtful about so many things or being open to possibility. When the pressure is up I'm sure it's the former. When I calm down I know that it's the latter.

Maybe doesn't apply to whether or not I'll be okay, whether or not I'll learn how to do a new job, whether or not I'm able. I've done more difficult things. I've come through troubles and this is decidedly not trouble. It's a good challenge.

There's also no maybe around whether or not I'll feel panic and anxiety from time to time. Of course I will. I'm starting new things, still dealing with old things, and living a life with a family and all the wondrous complications that involves.

The maybe comes from how I will deal with these things. The pan is on the stove. Water and rice have come to a rolling boil. Through the glass lid I see the white bubbles froth. Steam spurts out time to time and rattles the lid. Maybe I'll deal with the situation before it boils over and makes a mess. Maybe I'll make a mess and clean it up later. Either way, I suspect I'll manage. Being frantic, though it feels like my natural inclination, won't help much. Might as well calm down and have some decaf.

Walking To Work

This morning it was raining gently outside. Seems as though everyone is complaining about it. I shrugged. For whatever reason the rain isn't bothering me. Our basement is dry. I had no picnic planned. My umbrella and raincoat keep me dry enough. I pulled the door behind me and walked from home toward my new job, thirteen minutes up the road. Yeah, I've timed it.

Walking to work is a change for me. Until yesterday I drove nearly twenty minutes to school on the highway. It wasn't bad and was an improvement on the hour-long commute I had before that. I'd put on music or podcast or ride in silence, but it wasn't fun. It's no fun to commute to where I was going, but even riding home I felt blah about it.

This morning, though I was tired, I didn't feel blah. Even if I had felt blah, the walk seems to change things. The exertion, slight as it is, feels good. My mind wanders or turns off in a way that would be too dangerous in traffic but is fine on the sidewalk. I feel the commute from toes up to my head and it feels good.

There are books about walking and writing, the connection between the two. Maybe this daily walk will rub off on my writing (as I suppose it has here). I felt almost as if my feet and legs were writing on the short walk this morning. I'm just not sure yet how to read what they've set down.

When the workday ended, I packed my things and pulled the bag over my shoulder. The weather had cleared. I stuffed the rain coat in the bag, pulled the umbrella down from the hook, walked downstairs, and headed out into the world. I found myself smiling as my legs carried me one step at a time back toward home. My mind and heart had already arrived where they need to go.

Noise & Technology

I have just turned music back on. A Manu Katche jazz album I've written about before.. The music is accompaniment to my writing and blots out some of the white noise produced by a network switch in my classroom. That thing's driving me crazy.

The switch have hung in a box on the wall of this classroom since before I took up residence in 2011, but early this year the tech folks replaced an old unit with a new one. The fan on this new one runs constantly and it is loud. I've just measured it at about fifty decibels. That's not technically loud, but is like a window air conditioner run all day long. The noise pulls me away from reading and writing.

I've asked the technology people for a fix, but they say it's not loud. Oh, well, in that case. I pressed them further, saying, it is loud in a classroom where we try to concentrate. They said, nothing we can do about it.

So it goes with technology. I'm to accept it without complaint. Or with complaint. Either way, I am to accept it, but I don't. This is not the way things ought to be.

I'm trying to read Wendell Berry's essay "Faustian Economics" which would be difficult for me in a silent room and is stretching my limits with that network switch running. One quote I've hung onto is this:

Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. &endash; The World-Ending Fire, 209.

It is also embarrassing when someone questions the machines, technology, and constant burning of energy. The network switch is necessary for moving internet bits about the school. Live with it and stop complaining.

More and more I'm less interested in living with things that don't seem worth the sacrifices they demand. Music and writing, yes. A lot of technology and noise, no. There are other ways to live and most of the good ones are evident in our history and the traditions we all too often abandon.

I'll return to Wendell Berry now, as best I can with that switch's fan running. It would be bad for me to go up there and unplug it. Terrible in fact. It would be a violation of our true religion. Hmm, come to think of it, that sounds like fun.

Pundit Clowns

A friend tweeted a comment about Skip Bayless, a sports pundit, who was criticizing Lebron James. Something about James not hitting a high enough percentage of free throws this season, calling him out for it. Surely at that rate Lebron is not the greatest of players. So said Skip Bayless.

My friend's tweet: "Somehow this clown still has a job."

Clown is right. A clown puts on a show to entertain, makes a fool of himself, and acts as if she or he doesn't know the fool they have become. Rodeo clowns make spectacles of themselves to distract the small-minded bull so that the thrown rider can escape the ring. The clown's job is to be ridiculous but also to get us to watch.

I don't enjoy clowns. I don't have any irrational fear about them. It's just that they don't do much of anything for me. Were I to be thrown by a bull, my opinion would likely change, but I'm not about to join in that nonsense.

Skip Bayless is paid to be a clown. That's why he still has a job. And people pay to be distracted by clowns who point at something inconsequential such as the performance of someone playing a game. There is a history of good sports reporting that both acknowledges that sports are games but also understands the art of them, the poetry and ballet involved, but most of that is lost to the "look over there!" of clickbait and twenty-four-hour sports coverage.

I find the only solution is to look away. I only wish that I was as good during the NFL season as I am throughout the endless basketball and baseball seasons. Do as I say, not as I do. Avoid the pundit clowns and stick with the reporters and writers. Bayless ain't no reporter or writer. He's more of an asshat. You know what to do with those, don't you.

Sports pundits, more often than not, seem entitled and incapable. They can't play the games and so they sit on the sidelines forever pointing out the flaws of those who do play. I understand criticism, but that's not what the likes of Skip Bayless are pedaling. Instead, it's petty, childish, taunting for the sake of entertaining the other kids on the playground. I don't want to be one of those kids. I'd rather play the game myself or watch the pros play it, preferably with the sound off or live and in person with no pundits getting in the way.