Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘The tunnel

Lost in recurring sad night dreams: Wandering around this flat university town..

It is good to have a context to my horrible recurring night dreams, particularly those re-run dreams that evolve with slight alterations, due to my attempts for Lucid Dream editing.

I spent about 8 years in a flat university town, on and off on two visits, for “continuing education” purposes.

The first trip lasted 2 years and was great in many aspects of novelty, adventure, surprises, experiences, aches, joy, frustration… and youth. The USA was open to foreign students and the universities were facilitated their living and enrollment. The Iranian students were the most engaged and active, demanding the fall of the Shah regime…

Six years later, my second trip extended beyond my expectation for another 6 years of total boredom, helplessness, poverty, closed horizon, and getting much older than my classmates and acquaintances…

In both visits I had a return ticket that I never used. My visa was good for 5 years, but I never could afford to return and visit my folks during the civil war…

During my second extended stay, the USA was closing down its welcoming doors and most research grants were funded by the military: Even permanent residents were turned down on account of top secret research.  Laws relevant to health and safety in the workplace were relaxed, ignored and numbers of inspectors cut down. A period covering Reagan and Bush Sr.

Actually, my decision to leave for another stint had no sense. Except this feeling of closed horizons in Lebanon: The civil war was on, but the year I left witnessed a long reprieve and my family could not comprehend my decision.

A month after I settled in the university town, the civil war broke up again, much violent and haphazard than previously. And my parents lived for 6 months in the basement.

As in the first rip, I didn’t apply or tried to connect and plan anything:  I had to be in the place and take it from there. I could offer the excuse that the postal services and phone connections were not functioning in Lebanon, but I am the type who abhor planning in advance for critical decisions, except the most futile and irrelevant decisions.

I wrote about my experiences in my auto-biography, and this post is about my recurring harassing dreams.

The harassing part of these scenarios is that the various versions insist on blending the worst depressing and melancholic of events in both trips.  My Lucid efforts to mix in a few refreshing stories are frequently overruled.

And the tackiest of all is that each version is shot as if I am back on a third, a fourth trip. And to do what?

Like I didn’t finish my dissertation and I’m trying to get rid of this burden once for all. It is not the kind of dissertations that if you read some more in the literature you can reach a closure. No, you have just a couple of short articles on the topic and the authors have admitted that they don’t know of a solution. And it is a mathematical problem for someone who is no mathematician, about optimizing stochastic demands for production. Don’t expect me to expound on these terms: I am in no mood for these craps.

I admit that I was not pleased with either my master’s thesis or my PhD dissertation and I feel that I didn’t get a closure academically.

Or like I am invited to give a lecture and I overstayed for a few nights, roaming these square blocks on the north side of the campus, and trying to discover anything new that replaced the older images. The post office is no longer for receiving hard copies and the friendly coffee shops were replaced by multinational franchises…

Or I’m biking at night going home and cannot recollect which apartment I’m living in: I moved so many times in all kinds of sleeping arrangements that I’m totally disoriented. And I’m thinking hard of any “friend” to visit in order to get my memory at ease…

Or I’m wandering in this flat town and realizing that I have no cash, no checks and no credit cards. If I had a credit card I cannot remember the password: It has been so long that I lately used any of these financial facilities.  And the only bank in town is not at a walking or even a biking distance. In the next version, I should open a branch of the bank on these stupid blocks.

There used to be “specialized” bars for singers and fans of Grateful Dead or Bob Marley… and I don’t see them in my dreams. Even the nude bar of Walter Mitty never appears in these dreams… And I know that my dream brain is pretty artistic and inventive, and I wish my dream brain would insert a few scenes of these bars and enjoy fully what I didn’t in real life.

One of the versions made me walk a few hills and noticed historical sites, in this totally flat town with no history at all. This flat university town gets a few colors at the start of the Fall season as students flocks from the southern States and the beginning of the football season. The stadium is packed with the university red and white colors and I had to submit to the boring and unimaginative US fiesta-types: All boozing and shouting and screaming and cursing and nothing to show for in tradition and culture.

A flat university town that empties at Thanksgiving and Christmas periods. The whole town is mine and nothing that matter: Nowhere to investigate, climb, get lost in a forest… Except a nasty wind whirling a few leaves in a desolate moonish landscape…

It was my mistake never to find out how this university was established. I conjecture that it might have been a military barrack for further expansion of the US territory down south, or maybe a concentration camp for native Indians…

The native Indians claim that tornadoes never hit this flat town, on account that it is bordered by small rivers? While Dell City, 20 miles north and bordering Oklahoma City, is frequently devastated by tornadoes.

Another recurring dream is being overwhelmed with baggage. I never travel with more than two suitcases: When I move to another apartment or town, I leave everything in place and give away almost everything, even if I have a single dollar… And yet, my dreams want me to be going back and forth gathering all kinds of belonging and getting pretty much nervous, and I have to wake up.

There is another university in the middle of nowhere. This center of education was meant to teach agricultural disciplines: It currently graduate students in all fields except agriculture…

My last week in this flat town was the most boring and melancholic in my life. The students had vacated the premises and I was wandering endlessly around the empty blocks, this desert of dried up soul, blocked spirit, not a penny in my pocket to open up any lousy opportunity in my diminished imagination… Taking stock of my stupid situation: Where from there?

No relatives or close friends to call on, regroup, celebrate, share…

And I had to go on and survive.

You may read “The Tunnel” chapter in my auto-biography category

The Tunnel (Ch. 37 of autobiography)

 

The Dean, who was from India, refused me a grant as a former graduate in Industrial engineering. Dr. Foote, my former MS advisor, failed to actively support me as I expected of him.

I had no choice but to enroll in order to straighten my visa status from business to graduate student. I paid the full exorbitant tuition for 12 credit-hours and was completely broke by the end of the semester.

I had to take three undergraduate courses, two of them I had taken but the third one (Experimental Design) turned out to be the most interesting and very important for my field.  I settle for the Human Factor specialty within the industrial engineering department because Dr. Purswell agreed to be my advisor the next semester.

Dr. Purswell managed to offer me a quarter-time scholarships that allowed me to reduce the tuition rate.  Dr. Purswell was more interested in the health and safety aspects in this field: he had a private company in forensic engineering for work related accidents. 

There were not enough graduate Human Factors courses in the industrial engineering department for a PhD program: the human factors field was not well developed as the other industrial engineering specialties and the university lacked qualified professors in that field. I was lucky to complement my course requirements in many other departments which offered me new perspective and approach to the human element in all these artificial human made systems.

            I enrolled in a couple of graduate courses in the Psychology department and I felt at home; my heart got set on the cognitive aspect of human capabilities and limitations, instead of the physical aspects that is known as Ergonomics and the modeling of the human body versus the functions of the brain.

Thus, I ended up taking courses in various departments such as marketing, business, economics, education and others to fulfill the required number of graduate credit-hours.

I had taken many courses in cognitive psychology and various statistical modeling and software analysis programs that are frequently used in marketing, business, psychology and econometric  

One professor by the name Getty gave me credits for the Pascal programming language that I had audited and did all the homework and exams as I paid for the course the next semester.  

I was hooked to the cognitive field in Human Factors but my advisor would have none to do with cognition for my dissertation: he was not interested in such a field and it was not in his line of business.  To be fair, Dr. Purswell was more than patient with me and let me write two proposals related to cognition that both were turned down within a year. 

Finally, Dr. Purswell had to deliver an ultimatum or he would have no choice but to suspend my scholarships.

I was ordered to stop all part-time jobs. I obeyed and within a semester I wrote the proposal, designed the experiment, finished setting up the fictitious chemical lab and carried out several intelligence testing protocols just to divert the true objective from the over 120 “subjects”

The subjects were mostly first year Psychology students because they are required to submit to experiments for credit-hours. That semester was hectic but a lot of fun.

The next semester was the worst of all semesters because I had to input thousands of data and read hundreds of pages of computer statistical results and the gruesome task of writing up my dissertation.

I had Dr. Schelegel in my advisory team and he forced me to use a specialized word processing program, simply because the print was professional and versatile. The problem was that no one could interpret the error in the program and fix it when I got stuck except him. I occasionally had to wait a couple of weeks to meet with him in order to untangle stupid word processing glitches.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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