Sunday, February 24, 2008

"A little cantata" ("Une petite cantate") by Barbara - and various grumpy updates and a senior freak-out dinner

This is one of my favorites among Barbara's sadder songs. The words speak of piano-playing and grief (at the loss of a daughter or younger person)

I'm in the mood for sad music because 1) Ralph Nader is running for President, and though I get the point (and even agree) I still think it's going to play right into the hands of the Republican Party and 2) Our chosen candidate from the three finalists at the end of our year-long faculty search has turned us down, not because s/he didn't like us (s/he did, and we would have made a great team) but because we pay much, much less than the other place that offered him/her a job. And there's more I can't discuss on that score. I am not a happy puppy.

I'm not sure what this will mean or how we will proceed, and I probably won't be at liberty to say for a while.

[Note from the technical staff at Acts of Hope: YouTube is up again and the link to the song above works. Take a listen.]

I am having a bunch of seniors over later on for what I have called the "senior freak-out dinner." (Note to non-U.S. readers: a "senior" in this case is a fourth-year college student, completing his or her bachelor's degree, the first U.S. university degree, at the end of this academic year.) I invited every senior I knew and told them to bring friends and come and spend a couple of hours here (early, before they and I all repair to our studies and libraries to do the usual Sunday night hours and hours of homework) eating soup and talking about what it's feeling like to be a second-semester senior. I remember that when I was an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college not unlike this one, this time of year my senior year was exactly when I freaked out. Endings, beginnings, life decisions, going or not going on for further study, identity crises and all the rest. So, I ran the idea past one of my former teaching assistants (a senior herself) and she thought it was dandy, and I sent out a big group e-mail and a reminder, and the little darlings are coming over in a few hours. One group is even bringing homemade cookies. I told them they didn't have to be freaking out to attend; all the better if they are feeling happy and relieved to be graduating. But there is such a mix of emotions at this time in one's life that it's good to have a place to acknowledge this.

We also have adult students (about half our students actually) but these are, except for a few younger "adult students" who are in their twenties, people in a different situation when they graduate. They usually have clear reasons, professional and financial, for getting a college degree at age 30 or 40 or older, so the issues senior year are very different -- and they are rarely full time students. So this will be a group of the young 'uns.

I'm going to go weep into my mug of organic fair-trade locally roasted coffee now.


Ken said...

For what it's worth, I agree entirely about the futility of Ralph Nader. He is a spoiler who is putting principles before political reality. If he gets any votes at all, they will feed McCain. Four years ago, Randi Rhodes on AirAmerica ripped Nader a new one for cutting into any prayer Kerry might have had. Nader was all stuffy and self-righteous. I don't think he had any effect on the self-destruction machine called John Kerry, but I think of Lenny Bruce's comment that there's nothing more pathetic than an old hipster. Nader has become unsafe at any altitude, especially the one where he sticks his head.

pj said...

There is only one thing more important to Ralph Nader than the well-being of this nation and this planet. I won't say what it is, but its initials are R.N.

(And it ain't Registered Nurse.)

I'm having a bit of a senior freakout myself today.

Jane R said...

Selfishly, because misery is often selfish, I am much more upset by the faculty thing than by Nader. But I'm pretty PO'd about Nader, so that tells you how upset I am about the other thing, which has huge local ramifications.

Jane R said...

P.S. Yeah PJ, I was almost going to write it myself. He needs an Examination of Conscience: where does principle end and narcissism begin?

Godde forgive me, I am getting what others would call catty, a word Miss Maya Pavlova will not let me use. Tis a grumpy grey Sunday afternoon. We did have a good Lenten liturgy at church, and thank heaven and my congregation for that. It was the highlight of the day.

johnieb said...

RN always makes me think of a worse politician by far than Nader; does the name Richard Nixon ring a bell? Still, the local boy (from Winsted, CT) has long outlived his role. I have friends who are Greens: working to make a more representative polity in the U.S.; they deserve better.

But the really sad thing is to work so hard for so long, and know it coulda been a good long-term colleagial relationship, and not have the resources to close the deal. That sucks, as the kidz say, so I grieve with you.

So may the host freak out at her own event, or must she wait?

Jane R said...

Thanks, JohnieB. The host was into providing comfort and hospitality to the kidlings, so no freaking out for her. But it was good for all assembled including me. Not a lot of people as it turns out, maybe a dozen, but they were appreciative and very happy with the lentil soup and hot cider and the cookies brought by two of the kids, and the cat worked her magic and did some major flirting. Very nice kids, all of them. They like coming to faculty houses. Said one "it's really nice to go to faculty houses, we forget they're human beings." Actually half the kids had already been here. It is a nasty cold rainy night so the hot cider was just the ticket. I was worried the weather would be warm, but it cooperated with my menu :-). I also had four different breads from the local bakery I mentioned on your blog. Well, local downtown, a shlepp, but it is good. That's where I got the ciabatta I mentioned over at your place. None tonight, I ate it all yesterday and this noon :-). But for the kidlings I had multigrain bread, seeded white bread, cranberry-walnut bread, and challah.

They all left without prompting on the stroke of 7:30 p.m. to do their homework, and I must go do mine!

I'm all for the Greens. I was one for a while. But right now my choices are strategic and I am back to being a Democrat. But I'm with Howard Zinn (cf. my recent post with his quote) re: the elections and the need for long-term grassroots movements. And I don't like the two-party system. Still, I don't think Nader's move is a good idea given what is going on, and like PJ, I think it's about Ralph Nader as much as (more than?) about the good of our republic. OCICBW.

pj said...

Hey Jane. I'm glad you had a pleasant evening with the kiddiewinkies! And I'm sorry your faculty situation remains unsolved. That's stinky, and stressful, and everything else.

As far as Nader goes, I don't think he can really screw things up that badly this time around. It just galls me that he would try again after eight years of Bush and hundreds of thousands of dead people. That is all.

Fran said...

Ralph Nader- grrr....

Your faculty situation - grrr...

That's about all I can come up with right now. I send good thoughts.

And to Ralph I send thoughts of please reconsider.

June Butler said...

Jane, go to the next best candidate quickly - if the person is still available. Pass that on to the powers and the committee, and tell them I said so.

Jane R said...

We may not agree on the next best. And more I cannot say. I am half the committee, though there are multiple other entities (very consultative school operating on Quaker consensus system). Oh I am NOT looking forward to this.