“No complaints, please. We're privileged!"

I'm sorry, this is so great, I just have to share it with you.  In the comments for my last post, PapaFreeak has just paid me an enormous compliment.  He reads my blog, get this, even though, he says, "I find about 75% of what you post to be odious."  ODIOUS!!!!  Isn't that the best thing you've ever heard?!  But wait, there's more: "This [he explains] is why I return: I don't understand why someone with your advantages--intelligence, health, a supportive family, good income from meaningful work in a prestigious job--is so astoundingly petty, envious, and self-pitying.  I think you fascinate me because you provide access to a mentality that is genuinely foreign to me."  Gosh, what can I say?  A FAN!!!!  This is what Elizabeth Gilbert must feel like all the time!

But PapaFreeak only finds "about 75%" of what I post to be "odious".  Which makes me wonder: what 25% could he possibly like?

Could it be that, having the "prestigious job" that I do, I never complain about my actual work, not my teaching or my students or their writing or having to grade their papers?  Not that I have anything to complain about there: I have fabulous students who do nothing but their absolute best work for me (no, I am not being facetious; I HAVE FABULOUS STUDENTS WHO DO NOTHING BUT THEIR ABSOLUTE BEST WORK FOR ME).  But, no, I don't write very much about what goes on in my classrooms (that's for my students and me), so it couldn't be that.

Could it be that, having hit a fairly tough bout of writer's block three and a half years ago, I spent the past two years (after a fairly stressful year and half taking care of various life issues, which, again, I haven't written about, except very indirectly) working purposefully and successfully at learning new ways to think about my writing, such that in the past two years I have not only managed to learn how to deal with the anxieties attendant upon writing, but drafted both a full translation of a nearly 6000-line poem and drafted nearly 75,000 words of my next book?  No, that couldn't be it, could it?  'Cause, you know, I haven't whined about not being able to write in years, and I don't think he was one of my readers before that.

Could it be that when I first started this blog nearly five years ago, I had so little clue about how to get my head straight in a fencing bout that many of my initial posts that summer were about how frustrating it was as a fencer not to be able to do the things I thought that I should (darn those "shoulds"), but that since then, I have not only learned how to compete, but made top 8 in my age group now five times in a row at a national event?  No, that couldn't be it, either, 'cause why would anyone want to read about progress in learning how to compete?

Could it be that, after having struggled with issues over my body image and weight more or less since I could walk (okay, since I was eight), I have spent the past several years, again, working purposefully to adjust both my body image and my diet, such that I have not even weighed myself now for, well, gee, I can't remember the last time I weighed, I threw the scales out so long ago?  Nor do I worry anymore about what to eat, now that I have learned how to follow the Atkins diet.  Okay, I'll give, I do still have some issues over how beautiful I am (or wish I were), but PapaFreeak didn't say he thought I was pretty in listing my attributes, so it couldn't be that.

Could it be that, again, after having struggled for years with feelings of failure because I hadn't made the progress in my career that I thought I should (that word again!) based on the kinds of attention and outside offers colleagues in my department were getting, I have spent the past several years working purposefully through my feelings of envy, including just last spring reading several highly recommended books on this deadliest of sins, specifically because I was aware how debilitating they have been to my sense of self and happiness, not to mention my ability to be a good colleague?  No, it definitely isn't that, because one of the things PapaFreeak is clear about is how much he hates how envious I am.  Clearly, I still need to do some more work on this one.  (They don't call them "deadly sins" for nothing, you know.)

Could it be that I write about things like how much I am enjoying learning to play the fiddle this year, in the process overcoming many of the narratives that I used to have about myself ("no musical talent," "can't play well with others") while having, quite frankly, the most fun I have had in years learning to do almost anything else (and you know me, I love learning new skills)?  No, again, it can't be that.  What could be pettier than learning to fiddle?  It is more or less the metaphor for pettiness, "just fiddling around."

That's it; that's all I can think of.  I haven't a clue what PapaFreeak enjoys about my blog.  Maybe it's the pictures of my dog.


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