One instance happened yesterday, when I snapped at a student. I opened the classroom at about 7:50 a.m. to find that the chairs were all out of their places and had been pushed to the sides of the room. Whoever had used the room last had neglected to return the room to its original condition. This happens from time to time. Sometimes I ignore it and leave it to the students to set up the classroom themselves. Other times I begin to set up the chairs, and (at least with fairly recent memory) there have been students who have set about helping to do that without having to be asked. Not this year's group. There is an attitude of entitlement that has become nearly all-pervasive. It's a lot of pouting and looking away and cell phone use anytime, anywhere. Sometimes I become so disgusted that I can barely force myself to interact with the students. So, yesterday I was quickly trying to set up the chairs so that I would have time to set up my computer and see if the tech equipment (which had been down the previous week) was operational once again. Two students, one male and one female, entered the room, seated themselves, and proceeded to start fiddling with their phones. Then the female one had the gall to get up and approach me with her workbook in hand because she expected me to give her help with her homework while I was busily setting up the chairs. I lost it. "Can't you see that I'm setting up the chairs all by myself? I have to set up my computer before class, which begins in a couple of minutes. I can't talk to you right now. Can't you people think of anyone other than yourselves?! Jeeeez!!! I'll answer your question later, once class begins." I thought, "OK, that's it. Now I am officially dead meat on student evaluations. But, fuck it!!!" Did she apologize on account of her thoughtlessness? Did she offer to help me set up the classroom? No, of course not. She just sat down where she had been previously, with the same diffident look on her face that she had before. And she's a German exchange student. Just as bad as the Americans, as far as I can tell.
There was also the very long, detailed, and venomous email that I wrote last week after the new flute professor wrote to the me, to the Dept. Head, to the Assoc. Dept. Head, and to the Chair of the Admissions Committee about how one of my students complained to her that she felt unsupported in my class, and how this was not what had been promised to her when she came to the university for orientation, how this one course was threatening to drag down her GPA and would be responsible for her being kicked out of the university, and blah, blah, blah. Instead of contactin me directly first, this professor decided to make an email drama out of the issue. I, then, responded with full fury, although with some very carefully chosen language (unlike the F-bomb laden rant that I went on to the Dept. Head the previous week about an entitled graduate student). A response was eventually forthcoming from the Dept. Head, after a bit of a delay, and it was carefully worded. To his credit, the Dept. Head pointed out that I had done everything that I could under the circumstances within my role as professor of this particular course and within the limitations of the various other things that I need to do with my time. He also reiterated my suggestion that she seek counseling services beyond those of consulting with individual professors, and finally he pointed out that she was likely having more difficulties with other courses besides mine than she had been letting on to her flute professor. The flute professor did not respond to my tirade, but to a second email that I forwarded her, which was my reply to this same student, who wanted me to pad her grade with extra-credit work, which I politely but firmly refused to do. The flute professor thanked me for sending the student's email with my reply, as it shed some light on the student's concerns. (Yeah, that's right, we're not running a diploma mill here. It a top-20 public university with Research 1 status, and the flagship state university.)
So I went to Rosen with these kinds of things on my mind. Consequently, when the Rosen practitioner asked me if I wanted to check in first, or just get on the table, I opted to just get on the table. What was interesting was that the tenor of the session was notably different from what it had been last week. Last week's session was colored by alienated, urban, nocturnal imagery and feeling states. What begn to come to the fore was that the void space around the heart that I had experienced last week (and which had been echoed at the concert I went to the evening after that appointment) had started to fill in with a warmer, more expansive energy. Eventually this led to images of the beach. I recalled the time that I went to the beach with X at the beginning of June 2004 on an unusually hot day. By then I had gotten back into contact with him after his return from India in April, and had taken him to Masjid Al-Farah in May. The beach visit turned out to be the beginning of serious trouble in my friendship with him. As I lay on the table today, it became clear to me that it had become difficult for me to enjoy going to the beach since then. Something started to shift and relax, and I felt as if I were perhaps beginning to heal from whatever trauma may have occurred on that day. Back in 2004, it felt as if I were beginning to move away from such a heavy identification with my work life and my home life, and into a greater sense of freedom and self-discovery. Things didn't quite work out as I thought, optimistically, they might have, at that time. Maybe now it's time for me to experience a more principled and quieter sort of dis-identification with work and consequent re-identification with myself.
Before I went to Rosen, I checked the iqama time for 'asr at the masjid that is between where I go for my appointment and home. After the appointment, I entered the masjid address into my GPS and it appeared that I had plenty of time to get there. I went there and there were just a few cars in the parking lot. I entered the masjid and there were a few people, praying or chanting the Qur'an to themselves. I prayed two raka'at, sat down, and started doing some zikr. Just after I finished that, the call was given. There were only 6 or 7 of us in addition the imam. After the prayer was over, we waited for the imam to get up. He got up, turned off the microphone, and then greeted us. He shook my hand and smiled. Then I went on my way, stopped off at Starbuck's and ran an errand at the grocery store.
This Friday evening my husband and I will go to hear a Pakistani vocalist Wesleyan. This Saturday I'm planning to the go the Qadiri-Rifa'i zikr about an hour from where I live. We'll see how that goes.