On being an apology apologist

A Facebook friend posted this meme the other day, and I thought, Hmm…almost.

While changed behavior is certainly the desired outcome of the apology, I think that without an actual spoken or written “I’m sorry,” the aggrieved party is still on the hook for the feelings. You know?

Have you ever been hurt by someone, and when his/her behavior just magically changed for the better, you said, “I guess that’s his/her way of apologizing”? I know I have, on more than one occasion. But not only is that giving the perp a get-out-of-jail-free card, it’s also withholding ultimate closure of the matter from the victim.

Now, that said, I don’t require a sonnet or a treatise or begging on bended knee. Sometimes, changed behavior is totally an appropriate gesture. Still, when hurt someone, I feel compelled to look him/her in the face and make it right. I always told my sons to apologize without uttering the word but, because once you do that, the person you’re apologizing to stops listening, as you’ve turned an “I’m sorry” into a “here’s why you made me do this,” to wit:

I’m sorry that what I said hurt you, but I was having a bad day, and your complaining just pushed me over the edge. To me, everything after the “but” negates everything before it. It’s all about empathy (the ability to understand the feelings of another; the ability to “put oneself in another’s shoes”), and sometimes — just sometimes — we need to put the feelings of others in front of our own.

Other people may be fine with just a 180 on behavior because it delivers the desired result, and feelings don’t really enter into it. Anyone who knows me knows it doesn’t work that way up here. I gotta feel all the feelings, both for me and for everyone else. I guess I’d rather use the old Golden Rule as a general guide, you know? I like this graphic. ;-)

So those are my RNFs for today. Happy Sumday! I hope you’re relaxing, wherever you are.

Much love!

162 Days

Almost five and a half months. That’s how long this little break has lasted, and while it’s probably been a wise idea to let it rest a while (there’s a lot going on), I’ve missed you all. And of course, I’ve missed writing for my own enjoyment, although I didn’t particularly enjoy what stared back at me when I logged in, haha.

During my second major hiatus from RtB, I had a birthday! Rockin’ the Bourgeoisie turned 13 back in February. The odd little blog with the strange name and zero topical focus is now a moody teenager.

I’ve been asked once or twice over the last decade, “Why did you choose that name for your site?” Well, at the beginning, I thought about writing stuff that would sort of shake up my fellow working-class compadres. You know: trying to inspire feelings of sticking together, weathering hardship, giving the ol’ Bronx salute to the Man, etc…typical facets of the basic bourgeoisie. I had no clue on that first day what direction this little endeavor would take, and 13 years later, I still don’t. Go fig. But I’m glad you’re here.

Anyway, the only true aim that remains is to write for writing’s sake, with zero ads. I sell nothing, and want nothing except camaraderie. You have given that to me in spades over the years, and I thank you for it.

The 2020-21 school year was difficult for me, artistically (and financially, yikes). However, I think it was more difficult for my students, who, when they could have easily dropped my class, chose to stick it out. They are the real workaday heroes in my book. Now that the next school year is looking a bit different, I hope to try to make it up to them. Musical theatre is back, and full choir rehearsals are back. Looks like, for the most part, the car is back in “drive.” At least I hope it will be. I’d be delighted if my last handful of years in the biz was a bit less laden with offstage drama.

For the second summer in a row, there is no Odyssey for me. That’s OK, though. Plenty of work to be done around here, as well as bashing on through my coursework. Yes, I’m back in school again, after swearing I’d never take another class in my life. I’m currently halfway through the certification process to obtain my Paralegal license. I’m excited about this post-retirement opportunity.

I hope this finds you all well! I know that some of my readers aren’t connected with me on Facey, so it’s definitely been a while for them. Please check in if you have time, and also let me know if anything looks janky on the site, as many updates were applied (which always, always screws with stuff).

Much love,

RF

I was on hiatus.

Nah, not really. I thought about writing to you many times over the last three months, but I wasn’t sure I had any positive, fun things to tell you. And you know what our moms and grandmas always told us: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

So here I am, with my year-end random neuron firings about things that happened to us, individually and collectively, and what I’ve learned from it all. Stay with me — there’s a quiz! :-)

If there are any lessons or maxims I’ve learned over the last nine months, they’ll be in this list (in no particular order):

  1. Many — heck, most — heck, all — of us have gone soft in our nearly endless comfort with doing what we want, when we want, and with whom. And we tend to be not very nice about being told to do otherwise.
  2. There is always something to do at home! (Most of it involves drudgery and some unpleasantness, but it’s a great feeling when a task is done.)
  3. The world did not fall apart when our kids weren’t forced to take semester exams. And it will continue to spin if they’re not forced to take them when they return to school after break.
  4. Lots of people possess kindness and cruelty in equally passionate measure. Exactly when those sides come out to play depends upon how uncomfortable we are with our situation at the moment.
  5. Being alone is not so bad. I’ve had a lot of practice at it since March. I know there are those who would give an internal organ for some peace and quiet (I see you, moms and dads of little kids, and those whose spouses are working from home and are f-o-r-e-v-e-r  n-e-a-r  :-D ), but the grass on the other side, and all that. Besides, I have Remy. What’s not to love?
  6. Teaching a performance ensemble remotely is crappy. I’m not one of the Kool Kids who jumps into the “virtual choir” vat fully clothed. The truth is you have to not only have the tech available (which I do), you have to have a majority of kids who are unafraid to sing solo (which I don’t). There are so many moving parts to this problem, there’s not enough space in my brain to share it today, so I won’t. Suffice to say that for good or ill, and for a litany of reasons, I won’t be offering my students any ethereal, esoteric, transcendent Eric Whitacre virtual choral experiences this year, or any year over the next three. Did I mention that I’m eligible to retire in the summer of 24? ;-) Down to three fingers…
  7. The people who have lost their jobs over this pandemic need help, and they need it now. I took a substantial pay cut this year, because events for which I am paid supplemental contracts were canceled. And boy, am I feeling the pinch. I’ve complained loudly to my family about it. However, I’m still guaranteed a paycheck, and I’m making ends meet, which is infinitely more than can be said for millions of families in this country who are looking at destitution next week, or close to it. So I really need to snap it shut and do what I can for people who have next to nothing, because the “haves” seem to have run out of, well…give-a-darns.
  8. I’ve realized that all our anger about <fill in topic that honks you off> only serves to make us a slave to it. The anger, I mean; not the topic. We need to let that crap go.
  9. You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever change anyone’s mind about their politics. Never. Never, ever. Please stop arguing about it, because you’re neither listening nor being heard. Savvy?

QUIZ: What is something you’ve done, noticed, or are happy to have realized since February? Points will not be deducted for clarity, spelling, syntax, or general snark. Insults will, however, earn you an F. If you want to say something political, it has to be super creative and not snippy. :-D

Go!

Much love.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Look out, you rock-n-rollers…

 

If 2020 brings a list of specific words to mind, “change” would probably make it to just about everyone’s top ten.

If I’m lucky enough to have you as a Facebook pal, you’ve likely seen this photo of the modifications to my choir room. And the changes aren’t just cosmetic; they’re musical as well. Kids feel less secure in the singing sense. I’ve had lots of conversations with them mid-rehearsal, when they’ve confessed to feeling like they’re singing all by themselves: an activity many of them would rank higher on the Abject Horror Scale than jumping off a bridge, taking a ball bat to the ribcage, or walking on their lips through busted glass. Some have dropped my class over it, which is heartbreaking for me, because they’re obviously getting no more joy at all from choir. I hate that.

Change is rough. Shew.

While I’m taking a pretty decent pay cut by not doing shows, that’s a change I can and will endure without complaint, because so many others have it so much worse. Still, it’s just me doing this by myself; I don’t have anyone else to contribute to the household. I have to be careful so as to never be a burden to my sons. Therefore, I’m tightening all financial belts, and committing to hermit life until such time as the sun comes out again. I don’t mind it, really. As long as I maintain ties with my family and friends, I can fight through all the other changes. And there are many. I’m sure you could make your own list.

If you would have told me last year at this time that these would be a standard accessory to my daily wardrobe, I’d have thought you were nuts. Funny how quickly changes like these are incorporated into daily life. I had some trepidation about masks before the first day of school: What would the students think? Would I have an issue with non-compliance? How would I handle it if I did, especially since it is physically impossible to distance kids at six feet in my room? But for all i and p, the worry about compliance was unnecessary, because my kids (ages 10-18) have been completely cool about it, and no one bucks me on it.

Granted, my reminding them that the over-60 crowd is especially susceptible to illness from this disease so please be kind and don’t make me die may contribute to the cooperation. Slightly. ;-)

Some of the changes aren’t so bad. For instance, I’m not sure I will ever return to the grocery, as long as there is curbside pickup (Wally, other stores in my town) and home delivery (Aldi). I really like the service, and I hope it’s here to stay. Another change that I don’t mind is seeing people “mask up” for the benefit of others — even if they don’t agree with the whole mask thing (and there are plenty who don’t, believe me). We need some more empathy and caring in this world, and when the chips are down, you can almost always count on regular folks to rise up — even if it means dealing with some personal discomfort. That warms the cockles of my shriveled, flea-bitten rodentian heart.

The pandemic and all its effects have been talked to death, and I suppose this was just one more log on that fire. But as I sit here in the quiet of a Sunday morning, my thoughts wander to my friends and family, all of whom are just doing their best to get through till the smoke clears (whenever that is). And I think that’s worth a few blog posts. We’re a pretty cool bunch of people, all told. Consider yourself loved and thought about.

To brighter days ahead,

RF

Annus horribilis

Horrible year.

It’s what Queen Elizabeth called 1992. She said, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” And no one could blame her, really; ’92 saw Windsor Castle burn, royal family marriages disintegrate, and a naughty scandal involving Sarah Ferguson, who was then the Duchess of York.

Personally, I thought 2016-17 was my annus horribilis time. But I don’t think 2020 is done with us just yet. Oy. I hope you’re all doing well. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little concerned about going back to school. I confess I’m ten kinds of uncomfortable with the prospect of even a half room full of singers. My district has provided me with a plexiglass shield to go in front of my piano, and we’ll all be in masks, so I do feel better about that. It’s that darn unknown…

I’m about as mentally prepared as I’m going to get. The mask-wearing is pretty standard for me over the last month, so I feel fine doing that. I’ve got quite the collection of them going — I’ve found it to be another form of self-expression, and that’s been kind of fun!

What bothers me is that too little is known about how children carry and transmit this virus. And of course, with all the adults who will be at school as well, it’ll be near-impossible to trace everyone’s movements in an ongoing fashion. It’s almost inevitable that someone — student or adult — is going to be infected at some point. I hope I’m wrong.

Oh well. I’m going into this with the plan that everything’s going to work out. If I don’t, I’ll lose what’s left of my mind.

I just realized that it’s been two months since I last wrote to you. And I’ve been working from home. I need to fix that! Again, my hope is that everyone reading this is doing well, and your families are, too. As the Thriller was wont to say: Onward through the fog.

Much love!