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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: Talk with Dan; Tinnitus; Mardi Gras 
9th-Mar-2011 02:25 pm
Conversation
Some random bits of life, typed over the last day or two: I had a grand conversation late Sunday night with Dan over Skype, and we talked into the earlier hours of the Feast of my faves Perpetua and Felicitas (and Saturnus and the rest, who never got so much credit). He brought me up-to-date on a wise trimming-down of his dissertation, with Ralph Del Colle having pointed out that he effectively had two projects running on Novatian's theology: a Trinitarian one, and a Christological one. The latter could be saved for later development, which has the happy effect of bringing Dan's dissertation that much closer to its conclusion. Other talk bounced from the current wild state of Wisconsin politics, and the long-term negative impact he fears that that will have on the public school system in Milwaukee, to their family plans for the summer and Dan and Amy's possible first real vacation alone since getting married, to touching on the fantastic symposium the Marquette faculty had had in response to the idiotic column on Theology and Religious Studies printed in The Chronicle of Higher Education the other year. I missed getting a chance to see Amy and the kids over the computer as well, but it was also fun to get an uninterrupted chat just one-on-one.

I read the Wikipedia article on Tinnitus for the first time, with some interest. When I was in grade school, I had suffered a pretty major hearing loss by fifth grade (75% in my left ear, 50% in my right) through some sort of combination of excessive wax deep in the ear and through swollen adenoids. I remember a torturous session of needles of some sort being driven into my ears, maybe when I was in third grade, by medical professionals that felt very Third Reich at the time. And I remember the apprehensive look on the school nurse's face, a long-familiar mother of one of my best friends, who during a hearing test finally told me, "Mike, I haven't given you any sounds yet," as I had been raising my right and left hands dutifully for a minute in response to the various tones I heard. I didn't know for years that tinnitus – perceived sounds in the ears in the absence of objective surrounding noise – was a recognized medical condition. Since at least third grade, I've always heard a constant ringing in my ears; for me, it's always been, as the article puts it, "a pure steady tone like that heard during a hearing test." Or usually multiple tones. After having my objective hearing restored after the adenoid removal, I just sort of learned to tune out the ringing, and not knowing that it was a Certified Medical Reality, I learned not to mention it because I remembered how crazy I had felt I must sound when I tried to explain what I was hearing to the school nurse that day.

Mostly I don't notice it at all during my normal day, although every once in a while some loud new tone bursts through for a moment, making me feel as though I could hear a dog whistle or someone's garage door opener with my useless super-power. And so I can relish the relative silence and stillness of a wood on a calm day, and not feel like I'm overwhelmed by the ringing in my ears, as I don't even really notice it unless I specifically attend to it, as it seems to me to be at frequencies "above" the rest of the noise I typically hear. It's only usually as I lay down to sleep in that utter silence of the lack of any activity on my part that it suddenly is the only thing that I hear. Mostly it almost always makes me think of J.P., and his insane musical superpowers, wondering if he could make out and identify the (usually three) overlapping tones I think I can make out. It's, I don't know, lame? Weird? Human? to have the same idle thought pretty much every day, but that's the way it goes. Just this time, sleep not coming quickly, I finally acted on the also long-present idle thought that I should look up a common article on Tinnitus and see what was being said. So now, when all I can hear is the clicking of the keyboard as I type, and coming-and-going rush of wind in the trees from the just-passed Gulf rainstorm, and the cries of what I suspect to be mockingbirds warming up for their morning duties, I now have the satisfaction of an ounce's more knowledge before I return to bed and hear the noises once again.

Mardi Gras was most fun for me Sunday evening, when the rain finally let up and I watched some of the Krewe of Proteus's and the Krewe of Orpheus's parades with a number of people from the department and their families over on Napolean Avenue. Parades seem to me to be the sort of thing that are a lot more fun to watch with others than by yourself. The Dixieland/Jazz of the marching bands were consistently fun, some of the costumes wildly creative, and the floats just epically ornate. I didn't have it in me to push through the crowds (and especially the kids) to make a grab at most of the throws, so my vision of having a plethora of New Orleans trinkets to pile on the nieces didn't come to pass, which is too bad as they have as much joy in sheer acquisition as any modern little girls. I suppose I am liking the sheer break of the Mardi Gras holiday here more than anything else.

I've been doing some work, of course, and will do more as the week goes on. I did take some time for indulging in fiction and came to the end of Patrick O'Brian's masterful Aubrey-Maturin set of novels with completing pages of the unfinished novel simply published as 21, sad, as I usually am, to have to take leave of a created world of the sort that I enjoy in a great author. The movie pastiche of some of the novels, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, while quite enjoyable, somehow failed to convey to me that it was based on a series of novels, and so I'll always be grateful for the look in Professor Deirdre Dempsey's eye when she recommended the books to me: the sort of envious pleasure I know that I have when I steer someone toward a book or film that I think is an absolute joy to discover, especially for that first time.
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