I’m in a bit of a furrow these days. Certainly not an abyss, thank God, and not quite a pit. I spent a little bit of time at the end of the work week trying to make myself feel better at least about the things in my control. More later. Meanwhile, the Friday 5s from this week and last.
Ax + By = C. From here.
- It’s been said (notably by Divinyls in 1985) there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. How has this proven true in your life?
This concept was posited the first time in a Philosophy 100 course at Leeward Community College. I didn’t like the course much, but I liked the professor. I dropped the class because I couldn’t stand my classmates. The prof mentioned the fine line between pleasure and pain, and some classmates laughed and said it was ridiculous. The professor asked if anyone disagreed with the dissenting classmates. I just said the word “hot sauce” to myself, but the prof heard me and used that as an example. Heck yeah hot sauce. So painful sometimes but so pleasurable.
- Where in your life have you witnessed the fine line between genius and insanity?
I know a lot of writers, musicians, and artists, and there’s an element of this with many of them. Most people who know her wouldn’t guess it, but R has some darkness in her. I’ve seen her teetering on the brink a time or two, and didn’t always know what to do about it. She dips into it when she writes or when she plays piano, and she’s the best writer I know.
- Where do you draw the fine line between supporting someone and enabling someone?
I’ve never been able to in my personal life. Tough love cannot get its claws into me. I’ve sent people I love money to fly home from bad Las Vegas trips, against the advice of their friends. I’ll keep doing it if I need to. Thankfully, this particular thing hasn’t happened since the 90s, but it’s a good example. Professionally, drawing that line is part of the job. Clear expectations and consistent follow-through; I know they make me a better teacher, even if there are casualties along the way. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for grace: of course there is. But as one colleague once wrote as a report comment, “Sometimes in this flawed world, the grace runs out.”
- Which sides of the fine lines between caution and cowardice, and between courage and foolhardiness do you tend toward?
I’m on the side of cowardice more often than caution, I’m sad to say. It’s one of the things I beat myself up most about. And definitely foolhardiness. I cannot tell you how many reckless things I’ve done just because I didn’t consider the consequences. Or because the consequences didn’t matter. That’s definitely not courage. I’ve actually done stupid things just because I thought it would be a good story. That’s not courage either.
- Tasked with drawing a literal fine line, what is your writing utensil of choice?
New York magazine ran a list of the 100 best pens, and I’ve been sloooowly working my way through each pen listed higher than mine. This qualifies me to give a good answer, and my answer today is my answer for the past 20 years: the Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball pen. Number 16 on this list, ladies and gentlemen, but number one in our hearts.
Wolf! From here.
- When are you the tortoise, and when are you the hare?
“Slow and steady wins the race” is practically tattooed on my soul, except the winning the race part. I take too long to do almost everything. I’m the last to finish eating at almost any table. People think I come in on weekends or stay late at night at work because I work hard. I don’t. I work slowly. I think one instance where I’ve been the hare is with Christmas shopping. I usually set aside one weekend in October or November and (these days) do almost all the shopping online and take care of it at once. This is mostly true for my first- and second-tier friends. I take a little more time with family, and usually shop locally, but yeah: I still get it done quickly most of the time.
- When are you the grasshopper, and when are you the ants?
Besides working slowly, I also procrastinate and take impulsive side-trips for fun, so I’m the grasshopper just about every day. I’m lazy. But I still mostly get the stuff done. It just take me longer once I get moving. I’m ants, a grasshopper, and a tortoise.
- When were you the lion, and when were you the mouse?
I don’t know how to talk about this really, but in recent years I’ve gone out of my way to help people who were kind of scary. Drunk homeless people at bus stops. Drunk non-homeless people waiting for buses (I actually told this story in this space, the one where I helped him find his phone). I think those are good mouse stories, although calling the people I helped lions may be a stretch. There was certainly nothing regal or menacing about them. Just unpredictably dangerous, maybe. I’ve been humbled more than once when students have reached out to help me. I hate asking for help, but there are a few times when I was genuinely helped, me the person not me the teacher, by a concerned student who didn’t see me as an authority figure in the moment but as a human who needed help.
- Are you more like the town mouse or the country mouse?
I hate to push, but the best answer is I’m half of each. My favorite places in this state are Molokai and Hilo, definitely the country. I believe I’ll likely retire to Hilo someday. But man, I do love being in town, close to everything.
- Which fable told in your childhood has resonated with you through the years?
The one I frequently go to is the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I try never to be an alarmist; in fact I’ve been asked to be more alarmed than I was more than once. But there’s an element here that’s really not about being alarmist. The boy wasn’t genuinely alarmed; he was either mischievous or dishonest, or just insecure. I’ve been guilty of them all, and while I’m mostly unrepentant about mischief, I’d like to be less dishonest. I think it’ll make me less insecure.