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Decevant (Monday, 2011 January 24)

January 25th, 2011

Today was a little bit more disappointing than usual. (Decevoir, to disappoint (and not, as you might expect, to deceive). Deçu, disappointed. Decevant, disappointing.) Realized during my first hour of class that one of the infrared mice from the lab had gone missing, presumably on Friday. It’s not expensive; a really shiny new one from Dell costs 4000 CFA ($8). It’s not like anyone goes hungry for lack of a souris. So why do it except to be a dick? It’s just one more blow to my underlying faith in humanity in general and my élèves in particular. (M. Dinesso, my head of department, seemed convincing enough in his shock and outrage that I don’t think he took it. Even if he had, same arguments apply.)

So I’ve been a bit more unbalanced than usual (which was already pretty unbalanced). I’ve been trying to center, or, more correctly, been trying to escape, by reading books and watching movies. Recently finished:

  • In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker. OK, immortal beings from the future are in the past saving priceless artifacts. Seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? But I was surprised by how compelling and relatable I found it. And if you want to center, you could do worse than to follow her advice: "But your work will help… Only your work will take the pain away. You’ll need it like food and water and air."
  • A Shadow in Summer, by Daniel Abraham. The cover missold me on this one. It’s the kind of cover you put on a Bujold — giant block lettering, canted at a slight angle, in front of a richly-colored scene, etc. But really a book like this one needs to have tasteful brushwork and subtle calligraphy. I liked it, but not sure I’m gonna read the rest of the series.

Shadow contains a scene where two characters are contrasted — one is described as "focused out, on her, the room, searching, it seemed, for something", and the other as "brooding, turned inward". I think this is going to be my first New Year’s resolution — be facing outward, not inward. Which is harder than it seems! I’ve been trying it for a week or so, and you get so bruised and beat-up wading through the catcalls and the haggling and the dérangement.. and yeah, people stealing from your lab. You build up a shell as a defense mechanism. You turn inward to ignore everything outward, because as a rule of thumb, it’s all disappointing.

So I’ve been working on little games and exercises to focus outward. I look at the ground too much so I make a conscious effort to look left and right and study everything I see. I stare at everyone I see to try to recognize them, and I salue them even when I don’t. Keep your eyes open. Look at people when you’re talking to them, or when they’re talking to you. I also probably ought to spend more energy trying to follow conversations around me, even when they’re not interesting or I don’t understand them, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Watched Bulletproof Monk, which was good times. Also saw Jonah Hex, which Tor.com described as "It’s like a drinking game that hired actors" (and it does have its moments, but a seasoned professional will note that it does not attain Eye of Argon levels of magic). It’s all been a great way to keep myself busy until tomorrow, when I can get Internet, so I can resume my regularly-scheduled waiting.

Today was a low point, and there have been high points too, which I’ve been meaning to write about. I’ll get to it sooner or later, I promise. But sinon (otherwise), things are just humming right along. A vague feeling of Impending Train Wreck, but what’s life in Africa without a little adventure?


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