“Ignorant free speech often works against the speaker. That is one of several reasons why it must be given rein instead of suppressed.” ~ Anna Quindlen

Oregon Coast 1 by russell.tomlin*

                   

“There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday night. Still hot and humid.

Oregon Coast: Huge Surf 11-6-09 by russell.tomlin

First let me say that I have no idea what is going on with my fonts. Everything on my WordPress is smaller. The fonts on my dashboard are smaller, and the internal header sizes that I’ve been using for months are now smaller than before. Please let me know if my pages look funny, or if the formatting seems off.

Now on to other things . . .

I need to preface what I am about to write with a short background story: When I was in charge of the computer labs while teaching in the English department at ODU, I had a run-in with a colleague who had been a bit shirty with the students who worked for me. I fired off a memo to this colleague, and did not listen to my own inner voice, which said, calm yourself first.

We had a tiff. We got over it, but I felt terrible. I learned a valuable lesson: retorts need time to bake properly and should always be allowed to simmer for a while. Or as the old Klingon proverb states: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

However, this is actually not about revenge; this is about justice.

“I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Sea Foam Explodes on the Oregon Coast by russell.tomlin

I recently learned that an acquaintance has been making disparaging remarks about me, using my blog as fodder in a smear campaign. Unfortunately, WordPress does not allow blocking of IP addresses, or I would have taken the simplest route. Having said that, I must admit to being a bit peeved that my own words, my precious, precious words were being taken out of context and undergoing armchair psychoanalysis.

Hmm . . . Things that make you go hmm . . .

When I decided to begin this blog, I knew that I was putting myself out there, so to speak, that I was inviting strangers in to take a peek at my life, that I was willingly subjecting myself to possible derision. For these reasons, I have held back (no, really, I have) on certain topics and certain events. Not everything should be open for perusal by anyone who happens to stop by. I have shared information about my family, its workings, its quirks, yet I have respected the privacy of each family member.

On a few occasions, I have written posts that I have deemed too personal, and I have made these posts private.

Occasionally, I have gotten a troll, and Akismet has protected me from a boatload of spam. But there is no protection from a virtual stalker—the individual who has no problem in appropriating sections of my life whole cloth, and then making of that cloth whatever he or she deems appropriate.

This simply will not do. Aside from the blatant bad manners of it all, what has happened borders on defamation. Trust me when I say that I hold my character quite dear, as should we all, and I will not tolerate an assassination of my character or that of any member of my family. Let’s just say cease and desist is now part of my researched vocabulary.

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Big Surf Folds Over on the Oregon Coast 9-6-09 by russell.tomlin

But to be honest, what has me angrier than anything else is that I actually considered making my entire blog private for a bit, and I also considered the possibility of going on hiatus. I was going to allow myself to be cowed; I, who pride myself on my ability to reason intelligently, was going to allow this individual to affect my writing, nay to affect my life.

Nope. Sorry. I refuse to do so.

Nothing makes me angrier than when I get angry at myself, when I start to blame myself for things over which I have no control, and I certainly cannot, nor do I choose to control the actions of another person. Being the staunch believer in free will that I am, I must stand by my convictions, especially when I know that I have not acted inappropriately, that I have not broken any laws, that I have acted only in the best interests of those around me.

So, to be blunt, do with this what you will.

“Inflamed by greed, incensed by hate, confused by delusion, overcome by them, obsessed by mind, a man chooses for his own affliction, for others’ affliction, for the affliction of both and experiences pain and grief” ~ The Buddha

Five Layers of Movement by russell.tomlin

These things I will not do:

  • Stop writing out of fear of being misconstrued or in an attempt to calm waters that cannot be quelled.
  • Stand idly by whilst a human being—correction, any human being—is being cowed into submission.
  • Cease in speaking the truth, the truth as I see it, the truth as I know it.
  • Allow myself to write out of anger, nor will I censor myself so that I do not cause offense. Reading blogs is an entirely optional activity, that is the beauty of the Internet: the big X in the upper right hand corner that closes the page, thus ending the discourse.
  • Allow anyone to speak ill of my family under any circumstances.
  • Allow anyone to harm my family under any circumstances.
  • Tolerate personal, private information being disseminated in attempts to smear my good name.
  • Fall prey to the machinations of another individual.
  • Presume to know that which I cannot know; assume that everyone operates under the Golden Rule; resume my petty, vindictive streak which I have worked so hard to overcome.

“The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons: Greed, anger, and delusion.” ~ Bodhidharma

Yachats 10-9-09 by russell.tomlin

These things I vow to do:

  • Continue to be true to myself with no attempts to soft-sell myself or my beliefs.
  • Write and post my blogs as I feel the need.
  • Be a bit more mindful of the dangers that lurk in virtual reality.
  • Continue to work in my own way for truth, justice, and the common good.
  • Share information that I think my reading audience might find interesting, entertaining, or helpful.
  • Be true to my wit, my character, and my personae—both the real and the creative.
  • Remind myself not to allow negative external forces over which I have no control to affect me adversely.
  • Remember my Shakespeare: “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain” (Hamlet I,v)
  • Kill them with kindness.

“Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

No Fear by russell.tomlin

I have at my disposal two of the greatest weapons ever given to human kind: my mind and the truth. I have no need to lie or to stretch the truth to suit my needs. I have no desire to become embroiled in an imbroglio not of my making.

I may not have the desire, but that does not mean that I do not remain an estimable force. Having said that, at the end of the day, what I feel now more than any other emotion is pity.

As that old misogynist Nietzsche said, “one has clearly ceased to be an object of fear as soon as one is pitied.”

Music by Meredith Brooks . . . “Bitch”

                   

Hard Night

What words or harder gift
does the light require of me
carving from the dark
this difficult tree?

What place or farther peace
do I almost see
emerging from the night
and heart of me?

The sky whitens, goes on and on.
Fields wrinkle into rows
of cotton, go on and on.
Night like a fling of crows
disperses and is gone.

What song, what home,
what calm or one clarity
can I not quite come to,
never quite see:
this field, this sky, this tree.

~ Christian Wiman

*All images taken from Russell Tomlin’s photostream on Flickr. Many thanks.

“Pain is never permanent.” ~ St. Teresa of Avila

st_teresa_of_avila-by-john-singer-sargent

St. Teresa of Avila by John Singer Sargent

 “Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again” ~ Tori Amos

ecstasy-of-st-teresa-of-avila-by-bernini
Ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila by Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Just a short post tonight, short for me that is. I had an appointment with my pain management doctor today. During these appointments, I usually get trigger shots in the parts of my back that are knotted. I’ve mentioned these trigger shots before.

Now, my tolerance for pain is actually quite high, which is how I continued to work for four years before having back surgery to try to remedy the problem. Of course, the surgery did not remedy the problem. No, it exacerbated it, but that’s another story, one that I have already told.

Moving right along . . . So these trigger shots do not usually bother me. I have had up to 12 in one day, and the shots themselves have only, on occasion, caused me a bit of pain.

May I just say that today was a first as far as the pain level? When the doctor came in, I greeted him by telling him my story of how I fell down the stairs and landed on the cement floor with my foot turned under me. I told him that I thought that the shape that my back was currently in was probably attributable somewhat to the fall.

I ended up having 10 shots in total. Each and every one felt as if he were sticking the needle into a solid mass in my back, neck, shoulders, and even derrière. Probably too much information there, but you need to appreciate how much of my body was involved in this situation. By the time he was finished, my jaw hurt from clenching.

Now some of you may think that I am exaggerating here, that  no one gets that many trigger shots in one visit. Trust me, I did, and I have. It’s just that this time my back was so tight (this after taking muscle relaxers before going to my doctor), that it rebelled against the insertion of these tiny needles.

“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.” ~ Arthur Shopenhauer 

st-teresa-of-avila-as-a-young-woman-detail-by-francois-gerard-1827
St. Teresa of Avila as a Young Woman (detail) by François Gerard

So anyway, I’m supposed to go home and put heat on my back after these shots. Did I? Of course not. Don’t be silly. While I was out, I wanted to get some things done, like getting the nose piece put back on my glasses. Afterwards, I was amazed by how well I could see again. Without the nose piece, my glasses were not fitting my face correctly, and I was looking through the wrong part. This may account for my trying to work on the computer without my glasses. The big screen helps, but I’m pretty sure that I was squinting at times (which may have contributed to my recent stress headaches).

Then, while I had Corey in the mood to go places (ha), we went to Bed, Bath & Beyond (Beyond what, exactly? The horizon? The budget? Reality?). I had a 20 percent off coupon that was burning a hole in my wallet, and I had seen a tablecloth that was on sale. Need I say more?

Suffice it to say that we made the entire circuit of the store; however, we did not spend a great deal of money. We got the tablecloth, which I want to put on the dining room table to protect it from the people in my family who fail to use coasters with sweating glasses. I know that if I walk in and see glass rings on my new dining room table, I will blow a gasket or have heart failure, so in an effort to avoid that, I thought that a nice, inexpensive tablecloth would be the perfect solution.

While we were there, I had to look at everything though; otherwise, how would I be able to enjoy the whole Beyond experience? I found a very reasonably priced black canvas basket to put my books in, that is, the books that I have not yet read.  Corey’s response was incredulity: “Another basket? Don’t you already have a book basket?” I replied that yes, I do have a basket, but it does not have corners as it is an oval basket. Consequently, my books are being mistreated by having to adapt to a curved surface. We bought the basket.

Then I remembered that I still don’t have a picture insert for my wallet. All of my family pictures (except my beloved picture of Caitlin and me) were taken with my wallet, and I’m sure, immediately tossed (Why would a thief want pictures of my family?). I like to have pictures of all of my honeys with me just in case someone I haven’t seen in a while says, “Do you have any pictures?” If I have to answer in the negative, I give the impression that I don’t really care about my family, including the dogs, so I really needed the photo insert. Which resulted in a trip to Dollar Tree, where everything is one dollar (such a deal)!

We were supposed to run in and out as it was getting late, and Corey hadn’t cooked dinner yet. But then I saw the silk flowers, and since tomorrow is Caitlin’s birthday, I realized that I needed to make a new arrangement for the urn at the cemetery. And then there was all of that Easter stuff, and I wanted to make a basket for Alexis. Yes, I realize that she is a grown woman. So? She still gets a kick out of Easter baskets just as I do. I found a very nice square, pink cloth basket that she can use for accessories afterwards.

As a result, the in-and-out trip to Dollar Tree turned into another half an hour before we made it home, which is why I am posting so late. We arrived home four hours after I got my shots. Imagine how my back feels . . .

I have my regular doctor’s follow-up appointment tomorrow morning at 11 at which time I will find out the results of my lab work. I’m not at all sure that I want to know. I’ll just hope for the best.

“Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions . . .” ~ St. Teresa of Avila 

light-upon-st-teresa-of-vila-by-chris-steele
Light Upon St. Teresa of Vila by Chris Steele

So I’ll just end of this note for now: Teresa of Avila may have been a saint, but I don’t agree with her assessment of pain, and I’m not sure that given the circumstances of her life, she should agree with her assessment. After all, during her illnesses she experienced religious ecstasy, which led some to accuse her of being one with the devil. As a result, Avila was a proponent of self-flagellation. Avila’s most well-known quote is  “Lord, either let me suffer or let me die.”

I know. I know. I’m horrible for making fun of a saint. But I’m not making fun of Saint Teresa. I’m merely contesting the validity of her quote. So before anyone gets torqued out of shape at how disrespectful I’m being of a revered saint, just remember, I’m irreverent about everything. I’m an equal opportunity cynic.

Now that I’ve cleared that up . . .

Lyrics from Joan Osborne’s St. Teresa

Oh, St. Teresa, higher than the moon

You called up in the sky
You called up in the clouds
Is there something you forgot to tell me…
tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me

Show me my Teresa, feel it rise in me
Every stone a story, like a rosary

We all have our quirks and beliefs, but I draw the line at mortification of the flesh. But then again, I’m not a saint.

And yes, I know. This post wasn’t any shorter. I’m a blonger; what can I say?

As usual, more later. Peace.