April 16, 2011

What a week

I have not blogged in a while. Life has been hectic. A week after losing our Streak, we are doing much better than we ever thought. At first, I was deeply puzzled by that, but then we remembered the months of grieving before. But we also have found some (and I am not fond of this word, btw) "blessings" from our Streak. His passing has done what he did so often in this life--he has connected us to people. The outpouring of niceness and goodness following his loss has been amazing. Because of Streak, I am closer to some, and am watching other events unfold that are all due to our little buddy. And even people who didn't know him, but knew of him, and know of us--if that makes sense--are reaching out. One of my tasks this weekend is to write a letter to our vet. Not only did we get to know all of them very well during this last year (there was a period last August where I could have picked up mail at the clinic), but they did so much to help Streak. I know SOF feels this way too, but they gave us extra time with him, and then helped him leave in the most peaceful and loving way. And we know that one of Streak's last (though not apparently his last) gifts to us was our sweet Alafair. As I said the other day, her passing was awful, and I could not look at pictures of her for months without a punch to the solar plexus. But we have been able to really celebrate both of them this last week.


School has also been hectic. I can safely say this has been one of my worst semesters in some time. Some of that, undoubtedly, was the stress of Streak's illness. And some has been the fact that I am teaching 6 sections at three campuses this semester (half of them are online, so I am not driving like a maniac). And part of it has been the fact that my individual classes have been stressful--and probably mostly because I have a tea-party (he told me the other day) activist in my post-Civil War class. I have had conservative students before. Often. And often, I would say, for those who are serious, I have been able to connect and demonstrate respect for their position. I can think of several who clearly respected me at the end of the semester. They were still conservative, so I wasn't recruiting.

But this guy is in an other world. On Wednesday, right in the middle of this weird week, he told me that he would prefer that liberals not be allowed to teach at all, and that conservatives (true conservatives) are unbiased and have the truth. Liberals, on the other hand, are socialists who put people behind ideas. Scholarship from liberals is something to simply reject. I tried, again, to be respectful. When he mentioned William Buckley as his idol, I talked about Buckley in a respectful way. But, as with most things with this guy, he completely missed that and then told me that all liberals hate conservatives as a matter of course.

When I turned away at that point, he said that he had not intended to offend me. To which I responded, "you failed at that."

I am unsure if I handled that right. But I don't know how to talk to this guy. I feel like asking him why he asks me questions when he just dismisses any info that goes against his beliefs. Feels like a waste of time.

So that was frustrating.

But Thursday night, my friend who is mentoring me on mandolin took me to see Sam Bush play in Tulsa. Because of my buddies connections, we sat in on sound check (which was very cool), and then even got to chat with Sam before the show. As we had just watched him do a rocking song with his electric mando, I joked with him that that was "just how Bill Monroe played that song." He smiled.

The show was great. Sam Bush is a rock star on both mandolin and fiddle. He plays bottleneck slide on a resonator mandolin, but then can turn around and play a traditional bluegrass tune with the best of them.

To tie all of this together, one of the last songs he performed is called "laps in seven" which was inspired by his dog who was drinking water one time in 7/4 time. I thought of Streak and smiled.

Here is a version where Sam starts out on "Ole Hoss" (I think that is a 1936 Gibson) and then switches to what some call the "Mandocaster." In my show, he played electric the entire time.


steves said...

That is too bad about your student. As a student, I alway appreciated having professors that had political viewpoints that were way different from mine. I liked being exposed to different ideas and I also liked the challenge of defending my beliefs.

leighton said...

Not having been in the room, I have no real idea, but I can't help but wonder whether liberal professors are the only people on earth willing to listen to your student's views on liberalism. Do you get the vibe that other people back away slowly when he talks about other topics too, or is it just politics?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like "your" student has some kind of power over you. Read Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and let it go. Who really cares what the student says in that regard?

Streak said...

Gee, Anon, perhaps I should just click a switch? not helpful. This student is not haunting my dreams. Just making my job not very enjoyable.

Leighton, I wonder too. This guy lacks a lot of people skills, and I suspect that many people just avoid him.