Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Slammed

Man, what a day! It's been absolutely insane. I'll get into details later. Suffice it to say that people got settled into classes and then decided, "Hey, know what? I need some technical help."

I finally took a break this evening to catch up on the news of Katrina. It breaks my heart. My difficulties and grievances seem petty. What I can't help thinking about as I watch people waiting on the highway and rooftops without food or water, watching people die right in front of them, is Bush on vacation, saying that this tragedy will take years to clean up, somthing he would never say about Iraq (there, we're making progress). And I can't help thinking that if we weren't in Iraq and Afganistan, that help would be there more quickly. I mean, some of the reporters tonight were saying water was days away. I can't believe it! And Iraq itself was hit by tragedy as a result of the fear of a bomb going off. I feel like we're in a downward spiral here.

I'm trying to be optimistic about my own little world, but right now, I just feel like this is all going to come home to roost, at the very least, in the form of higher gas prices. I'm walking or riding a bike. I think a bike would be a good investment right now. For now, I'm donating to the Red Cross. I'm sure the campus will be doing something as well. I'm going to gather up clothes, blankets, whatever I can do. As always, I feel like it's never enough.

Community

That's what we're discussing in class right now. Ironically, right now, I've never felt so much a part of a virtual community as I do now. I am feeling sad for Badger, but heartened by everyone's expressions of sympathy. I'm with Scrivener that sometimes I wish we weren't all so far flung. I'd be over at Badger's with a casserole in a heartbeat. I don't know how to explain this whole thing to people. I feel just as at home here, among the blog people, as I do when I set foot on campus. It's a nice feeling and I'm grateful for it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Web of Influence

Our class blog is up. And there are posts already! Check it out.

My heart

goes out to Badger and her family.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Now back to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress

Today was the first day of classes. Other than slight increase in phone calls and e-mails, it was pretty uneventful. Tomorrow I teach my first class. I haven't been in the classroom in over two years. I'm not really nervous, though, because I've been "teaching" in one form or another for the last 2.5 years.

It's an odd class we're teaching. It is both a writing class and also a way to introduce freshman to the kind of reading and writing skills they will need in college. Grading is not terribly strict. In fact, grades on individual assignments are discouraged while a portfolio or culminating collection of assignments that will figure prominently into the final grade is recommended. I'm not opposed to these kinds of guidelines. It just feels odd to someone who's spent most of her time in classes with fairly strict sequencing of assignments or at the very least, grading of individual assignments. Frankly, I'd like to not give grades at all and simply give to each person an evalution of how I think they did--where their strengths and weaknesses lie--without a grade attached. I'm a little worried that the students will be clamoring for grades. They will want to know, for example, what counts as an "A" blog post. It's hard to say, of course. Just as it's sometimes hard to say for any piece of writing.

I've come to think of my blog as a whole, not a series of individual posts. There are good posts and bad. There are filler posts. There are narrative posts; there are rants and rhetorical arguments. It's not really a cohesive whole if read from start to finish (though that might be an interesting thing to do), but it does give somewhat of an impression of who I am and the kinds of things I think about. And, I'm also aware of my blog as part of a community of other blogs. As an example, over the last week, I've been reading many, many posts about the start of school, from all different perspectives and disciplines. Some people have their first jobs; some are in the second or third year. Some are just post tenure. Others are staff members or administrators. Still others are in that limbo state of being a student and a teacher at the same time. Reading all of these gives me some kind of comfort, a shared experience.

And then there are others in connected but slightly peripheral communities. Many of us are joined by our politics, by parenthood, and even by location. And this, I think, is the question I want my students to wrestle with? How does one write within all these varied communities? When you write, are you aware of the community or do you write only for yourself? What's the difference? When you read, do you situate the writer within a community? How do you piece together a whole identity out of disparate parts? If they wrestle with these questions well--among many other questions that will come up--they will do well in the class.

A side note. I was thinking about this whole community thing, both because that is the first assignment for the class to write about, but also in response, oddly enough, to AiE's post about running, a beautiful post and one I could relate to even though I'm not a runner myself. As far as I can tell, about the only thing AiE have in common is that we were both once academics and quit, and probably our politics. I bumped into her blog through this little web of blogs I call a community and have read it every day for at least a year. If not for the blog, I would probably never have met someone like her. Our interests seem too disparate for us to have met in real life. She's a runner, athletic, likes to watch lots of sports. I am not and I don't. For many of the other blogs I read, I can see that our interests don't necessarily overlap. Unlike my real-life friends with whom I have a great deal in common (especially since many of us work at the same institution), my blog friends are at least slightly more diverse. And I make a continued effort to expand this little web, trying to find blogs that I like by people that may not be like me at all.

It's a complex little virtual world out here and I'm about to plunge my students into it. I hope they come out of it okay.

And now, a word from our sponsor

You may have noticed, I was Atriosed yesterday. Later, I'll show you the little sitemeter graph. It's quite impressive. Thanks, atrios.

First, the weather. I'm checking in on the hurricaine blog, but I can't get it to load, which means that either the hurricaine is really bad, or my internets are wonky again. Okay, loaded. It doesn't look good. Stay safe everyone!

The sponsor for today is Dove. I've been thinking about this for a while. A while back, Dove introduced an ad with "regular size" women. When I saw it, I thought, yippee! I'm the last person to be excited about this. For years, my only defect was my short height. People are still pissed at me when I can down a whole chocolate cake and not gain an ounce. But still, most people I know come in all shapes and sizes and not the stick figures we usually see in all the ads for anything--cars, makeup, clothes, snack products. Apparently, only skinny people are allowed to purchase these things.

A few weeks ago, CBS did a little segment on the new ad. In it, they interviewed one of the women from the ad, who was strikingly beautiful, but short, and a size 6. That's right, a size 6! And she'd been told by one model agency that she was too fat. All the women in the ad are attractive, but their bodies are not the stick figures of other ads. So they interviewed a director of a model agency, a quite unattractive woman (why is it that the people who run model agencies are unattractive?). She said she didn't like the ad. Why?
Because people don't want the reality. They want the fantasy.
Okay, now I get it. I think I'm seeing how things are now. This explains a lot of things. It explains why we don't get the hard truth from our fearless leaders. "They want the fantasy." As Anbruch used to write all the time, "Everything is beautiful in Bushworld."

You know, I'm not opposed to a little fantasy. I like indulging in movies, books, video games. But eventually, we all have to come back and deal with reality. And I think the stick figure ads are dangerous because they're so prevalent, you start to think they are reality, that everyone but you is a size 0. Especially dangerous for young girls.

And indulging in fantasy is bad foreign policy too. Too bad Bush can't get some good stick figure models to help him out with the Iraq thing. But he's got some slogans: Freedom is on the march; Stay the course; We're making progress. Too bad most of us have been trained on slick ads so we can see through it all.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Into the Breach

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.

The quote, of course, comes from Henry V, but W. is no Henry the fifth. His wasteful and wild youth did not culminate in the rising to great leadership that was the path of young Henry. I am reminded of the moment when young Henry takes up the crown and realizes it is more than a crown; it is a heavy burden of responsibility. And that is the burden which Bush has not taken up. He has not taken responsibility for this war, instead letting the wall close up with our American dead. But we are quickly running out of bodies. Recruitment is down. The goal for Iraq is no longer so much about freedom or the war on terror as maintaining some sense of stability. And I don't even want to think about the bodies of Iraqis that are piling up. You can say that Saddam was a bad person and killed many of his own, but what are we doing, but the same--killing our own and theirs--and for what?

Watching Jon Stewart spar with Christopher Hitchens, I was struck by something that Stewart said. He said, "Not once has Bush or anyone in the administration come out and talked to us like adults. Instead he falls back on these platitudes that don't mean anything." And I thought, yes, that's it. We know it's a complex situation, even if we thought it was wrong in the first place, we're in it now. We deserve a discussion, a debate. We don't need "Mission Accomplished" or "We're making progress."

No fewer than three recent op-ed articles in the NY Times basically plead with the administration to figure this thing out or get out. And what's worse, most of the Democrats are rolling over like scared puppies. Get some backbone, people! Cindy Sheehan has been braving the heat in Crawford for weeks while Bush bicycles by her and ignores her. Well, our own Senaors and Congressman are ignoring us the same way. When are they going to stop worrying about ruffling feathers and whether what they say will poll well and stand up for something? Will someone please just take responsibility here? Will someone just say, "Okay, this was a bad idea and now we're going to figure out how to get out of it."

I've been pushing politics to the back burner because I've felt helpless. I live in a blue state with red senators and congressmen. My local politics are also red. There are so many things I'm concerned about, I don't know where to start. Energy policy, women's rights, health care, education. All complex issues without easy answers, and I'd like for somebody to get the courage to start working on them. I'm holding my representatives to task when they get back to work in a few weeks.

Cut off from the world

My wireless ethernet bridge is wonky and for some reason, it's only affecting Blogger sites--ack. So I came up to the other office where there's a wired connection. Voila, everything is fine. I hate being cut off, though. Bleh.

Today we have to make a little more progress on our syllabus. I'd like to finish it completely but I'm not sure that's possible. I'm also doing a little more shopping for household stuff. Mr. Geeky and Geeky Boy are off to a movie this afternoon. I'm also hoping to get in some writing. I must admit I'm looking forward to the beginning of school for the kids, which is a week after we begin, so that we're all on a fixed schedule again.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Harry Potter Version

. . . of this.

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Happy Anniversary!

Today is our anniversary--11 years. It goes to 11! We usually don't celebrate our anniversary in a big way since it's almost always right before or right in the middle of the first week of classes. Our wedding was on the Saturday before classes began, and although neither of us was teaching/taking classes that semester, the small college town we lived in was insane that weekend. Mr. Geeky broke down and cried in Kinko's because they said it would be two weeks before they could copy our programs. Needless to say, the programs got copied.

Mr. Geeky is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me, really and truly. Every year, I think of all the things he's done for me. When we first moved here, I was a bit resentful because he kept dragging me places and away from friends and I had to start all over and the cost of living here was outrageous compared to other places we'd been. And I was just downright mad. But he's made a real effort to help me when I needed it, supporting me in everything I do. Every time I hem and haw about whether I should take a trip, buy something expensive, or something I view as selfish, he always says, "Go ahead. You deserve it." He's always pointing out where my strengths are when I'm focusing on my weaknesses. He's my best friend and I can tell he always will be.

Happy Anniversary, Mr. Geeky! I love you.

They're here!

Dean Dad and Adjunct Kait write about Freshman orientation and registration. And PPB writes about the students moving in. I got to participate in the Information Fair yesterday where they paraded groups of freshman into the computing building and we talked to them about various things they could do here. We showed them the help desk; telphone services had a station set up; and my job was to show them the New Media Lab. Now I'm proud of my lab, especially this year since I got all new equipment, but most of the students have no desire to see it right now. What they wanted to know was whether they could print for free, how to get their email password, or registration password, and what kind of software was on the computers and where could they buy software for their own computers. To make it more fun, we podcast the event (still need to do some editing), but still, the last hour dragged. I ended up getting dragged away to do (gasp) actual work, so my students took turns giving the NML spiel. Frankly, they were better at it than I was.

At the end of the Information Fair, our department was having a cookout and introducing themeselves to the 20 or so students who would be working the help desk this year. I missed the introductions because, well, it's the Friday before classes start and people need stuff. Those who didn't help with the IF somehow managed to be present for introductions. So for about fifteen minutes, I was seething about the fact that people were standing around drinking beer while I was running around working and my students were having to continue doing the spiel. And every time I walked by the group of people drinking beer, I got dirty looks from some people. To them I say, bleh.

But then I got over it, and drank beer with my colleagues. My kids came over and ate with me and then, we went home and read Harry Potter. Monday is when true chaos begins.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Random ten: Back to school

"Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" Paul Simon
"Harmed" Film School
"History Will Teach Us Nothing" Sting
"The Art Teacher" Rufus Wainwright
"Volume" The English Department
"Africa/ Hood Economics" Tahir
"Strong Chemistry" David Wilcox
"Philosophy" Beth Waters
"Paperback Writer" The Beatles
"The Books" Tokyo
"Bookends" Simon & Garfunkel

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Kid snippet

Cast of characters:

NB (neighbor boy, age 10)
NG (neighbor girl, age 8)
Geeky Girl
Geeky Boy

Kids all come parading down the stairs, heading out the back door.

NB: Okay, you two are my body guards and you're the paparazzi.

Giggling ensues. Door slams shut.

Five minutes go by. Door opens.

Geeky Boy: Oh, hey. I got a good shot of your face, but it's a little blurry. Let's do it again.
NB: Oh, alright, if you insist.

Wednesday Whining

I love Phantom's Wednesday Whining. I was going to go yesterday and hang out and watch the fun because I had nothing to whine about yesterday. But I didn't, because I thought it was Tuesday! You'd think those little date/time stamps here would keep me straight, but no, I am totally lost in time.

Instead, I was working on my syllabus with Mr. Geeky (he's the one who told me it was Wednesday). We have the class blog up too, but there's nothing there. As soon as there's something to show, I'll link to it. And yes, I know we've only gotten three weeks planned. We can't help it. We're slow and we have to discuss every single idea. So far, no arguments. I think the marriage is going to survive our teaching this course together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

How I got my job

Mr. Geeky and I were talking about this last night while drinking beer on the deck. He said, "Aren't you glad that guy convinced you to apply for this job?"

"Yes," I said and laughed.

Applying for this job was actually quite a feat. I was not in a good way when I was looking for this job. I had been adjuncting for a little over a year and I'd just gotten a scathing review of my dissertation. After a day of crying my eyes out, I decided enough was enough. This path was making me miserable. There was no light at the end of the tunnel--only a crappy 4/4 teaching job with an even crappier salary and an 80 hour work week. No thank you, I said. Mr. Geeky fully supported my dumping this whole becoming a professor idea. He knew the hard road ahead and if there wasn't something good waiting for me at the end, it wasn't worth it. And, he didn't like to see me cry.

I sat down and thought long and hard about the kinds of things I wanted to do. I did like the college environment, but not the pressure of teaching and research. Especially the research. I also loved computers, loved them. I looked back at the kinds of things I volunteered to do in graduate school, at what innovations I incorporated into my classes, where I added my own touch. I taught grad students how to create web pages, how to use the computer classroom effectively. I created my own web pages. I created assignments that made students explore online, evaluate email lists, and build their own web pages. Assignments were all submitted electronically. I often marked them up electronically and sent them back. I was always thinking of new ways to immerse myself and them in this online environment. That led to pursue jobs involving technology, most of which fell under the description educational or instructional technology.

I was at a disadvantage to some extent. There were people with degrees in Instructional Technology. I had missed that boat, first because I was at a place that didn't offer such degrees and second, because I was determined to try to become a professor. So here I was, with lots of practical experience, a master's degree in English, my Ph.D. exams taken and passed, but without the stamp of approval in the form of a degree in the right field. I applied for my first job at a college about 1/2 hour away. It was more a technical job than I wanted and I wasn't quite qualified, but it seemed as good a place to start as any. I also applied for a techie job in the admissions department at a school closer by. I never heard from the first application. I got a phone interview for the second.

In the meantime, I ran into the job ad for my current job. I nearly fell out of my seat. *This* was the job I wanted. But I immediately dismissed it, saying I wasn't qualified. Mr. Geeky immediately started enumerating the ways in which I was qualified. And so I spent days crafting my cover letter and my resume. Mr. Geeky, of course, was my primary editor. I sent them off, thinking that like the first job, I'd never hear from these people again. But I did. I got a phone interview. And then, from the admissions job, I got a face to face interview. I might have options. But I didn't count my chickens before they were hatched. I kept scouring the web for ads.

And then I got the interview for my current job. It was a full day, complete with a presentation. Yikes! A presentation. I'd given many conference papers and taught for years, but a presentation I'd never done before. I chose the topic of Technology and the Liberal Arts, a topic I feel strongly about. But preparing for that was the most nerve wracking experience I've ever been through. Mr. Geeky, again, came to my rescue, and there were many long nights of him listening to my presentation and of him critiquing my presentation and me collapsing into tears, mumbling that I just couldn't do this. At 2 am, nothing seems possible. But I made it. I whipped the presentation into shape. I went to the interview--really interviews--meeting with various groups of people, all of whom threw different kinds of questions at me. I never felt like I was wowing them, but I felt like I was answering their questions effectively.

Aside from my going a little fast, the presentation went smoothly. The question and answer session was the best part, and I even had a couple of people come up to me afterwards and say, "Wow, that thing you mentioned, I'd never thought of that. Great idea." I left the day of interviewing feeling like I'd done my best. Christmas intervened and I hadn't heard from either of my job prospects and I decided that after the New Year, I would apply for a couple of other jobs. Right after Christmas, the admissions department from the other school called and rejected me. I wasn't crushed since I really felt like I didn't fit in there and it wasn't the job I wanted.

While waiting to hear from this job, I began applying for more jobs like it. One thing that came out of the interview was that I realized that I was qualified for these kinds of jobs and I felt confident in applying for them. One thing I found out during the interview was that the search committee had no idea I was married to Mr. Geeky. I had gotten to the face-to-face interview on my own merits. I was quite proud of that. I was on my way out to the mailbox to mail off another application when the phone rang. It was the director of Human Resources calling to offer me the job. I actually said I'd think about it and would call back at the end of the day. I immediately called Mr. Geeky, elated. He already knew. Someone had come to tell him 5 minutes before. I didn't make them wait until the end of the day. And I started a week later.

I love my job. It really is my dream job. I tell myself that on days when I'm feeling down. Doing a search here on "love my job" shows a few other posts about my affection for what I do. Sometimes I need those markers there as reminders, but times like now, I'm riding high.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sitting with beer

I am going to sit out on the back deck with beer and try to calm the beast. I will try not to think about the fact that my syllabus is not done, that every day, there is more to do than can possibly done. But the odd thing is, all this work makes me feel, not bedraggled, but wired, excited, exuberant even. Somehow I feel the need to tame all that excitement, to settle myself. I feel like a child at a birthday party. There's just too much to do, too many people to talk to, but it's all fun and exiting.

Glimpse into the future

Yesterday, I got a small taste of what my semester is going to be like. Here's what the day looked like:

1. Up at 6:30, blogging and drinking coffee.
2. Out the door at 8:15.
3. Work, work, work--lots of it.
4. Collapse at 4:00, realize there's one more thing to do.
5. Get involved in helping colleague, decide to take "one more thing" home.
6. Go home. Make dinner.
7. Eat dinner.
8. Phone call from friend.
9. Go for a walk.
10. Write.
11. Read Harry Potter to the kids.
12. Begin work on "one more thing."
13. Finish task at 11-ish. Decide to catch up on blogs.
14. Read Wired.
15. Go to sleep at 12-ish.
16. Up at 6:20.

Until last night, I had been getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. I'm going to have to get used to this because I think it will be my life until the first week of December. There will always be one more thing to do. I am trying to preserve my writing and walking time, no matter what. Of course, I might go insane. So far, I feel very calm about the whole thing. I'll manage. Somehow, I can write and blog and teach a class and be a soccer mom and do a job. Right? I think so, anyway. Talk to me in a week.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Music

This is a marker for myself, but play along if you like. I want to buy more music so I'm putting down some things I'm considering.

Everyday Behavior - Melee
Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie
Out of the Shadow - Rogue Wave
Garden State Soundtrack
Avenue Q Soundtrack (I loved the show! As seen in comments at brina's.)

5 Answers

Brina was kind enough to send me questions. I've really loved reading everyone's answers to these. If you want questions, just leave a comment.

1. What's your favorite place to visit with your kids?

I really liked going to the beach with them. They have a lot of freedom there and they absolutely love the water. I also really like taking them to the local museums--which we haven't done in a while. They're really at an age now where we can take them almost anywhere and they're fun to be with. That's a great feeling.

2. Who would you like to see in concert next?

I've actually been thinking about this. Of course, I want to see Rufus again, but that's probably a ways off. I have been thinking about They Might Be Giants because I could take the kids. Geeky Boy loves them. They were in town a few months back, but we couldn't go. I'm also thinking about Iron & Wine. David introduced me to them and I love them. I told Mr. Geeky last night that I want to go to at least two concerts this year.

3. Of the geeky gadgets you own, which is your favorite?

I'd have to say my iPod. I love it. If it could become my phone, my camera and my Palm, I'd be in heaven. It's just such a nice design. Plus, it's just been really great to be able to appreciate music again. We got rid of our stereo system when Geeky Boy was about 2. We have always lived in fairly small quarters--can't really blast the stereo around sleeping children--so we just quit keeping up with music except through a few of our friends. With the iPod, I've able to fall in love with it again. It brings back memories of me in my room with my stereo, listening to a record (a vinyl record) on big puffy headphones. I used to write papers that way.

All that being said, my smart phone is a close second. I just wish it had a camera built in and were a little bit smaller. Maybe next upgrade. :)

4. What was the last book you read that you really disliked?

I tend to not finish books that I don't like. I have two unfinished right now. Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold and Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt. The authors both seem a little pompous to me and that is ruining the content. Bleh. I am really affected by the tone of a book. I might still finish Will in the World, but I think Smart Mobs will remain unfinished.

5. Where would you want to go for a long vacation?

Hmm. That's a good question. I'd just like a long vacation for starters. I've been wanting to go out of the country again. I'd like to go back to London where I once spent four weeks. But it might be nice to go to a different place--Spain or France maybe. I've always wanted to go to the Loire Valley. In the states, I've been thinking about going west--to the Grand Canyon, the Redwood forest. It's in my plans for this year to go to some places I've never been, starting with New England. Those will be short trips though. I think it would be nice to take a month or two and travel all over the US. Maybe when I retire. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Goofy

What's really sad is I think this is definitely true. Last seen at Rana's.


the Ham
(42% dark, 42% spontaneous, 31% vulgar)
your humor style:
CLEAN | SPONTANEOUS | LIGHT




Your style's goofy, innocent and feel-good. Perfect for parties and for
the dads who chaperone them. You can actually get away with corny
jokes, and I bet your sense of humor is a guilty pleasure for your
friends. People of your type are often the most approachable and
popular people in their circle. Your simple & silly
good-naturedness is immediately recognizable, and it sets you apart in
this sarcastic world.


PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Will Ferrell - Will Smith



My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 66% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Internal Debate

I've been debating this for a while and have probably written about it before, but now I absolutely must make a decision. I want to go to my college reunion in a couple of months. My college happens to be located in the same city as my mother. I am thinking about going and not telling my mother that I'm going. I would stay in a hotel and it's unlikely that our paths would cross.

But, how horrible is that? Phantom just wrote a wonderful post about why she puts up with her parents on vacation when she has so much trouble dealing with them. I feel similarly about my mother. It is so stressful to spend time with her. My father suggests I be honest with her. Tell her I'm going but not staying with her. That would require a conversation I'm not sure I will ever be ready to have. I might have to explain that I don't feel comfortable with her, that I feel even less comfortable with her husband.

If I were bringing the kids, this would be a no-brainer. She loves them and I wouldn't deny her the right to see them. But it's just me, and I'd like to have a relaxing and fun trip and not be constantly fighting her. What would you do?

No title

I couldn't think of a good title for this. I thought of Happy Birthday, but that would be too misleading. Today is my sister's birthday. My sister who has now been dead as long as she was alive. She would have been 34 today. It is impossibly hard to imagine what the 34-year-old version of my sister would look like based on what she looked like at 17. For the first few years after she died, I talked about her quite a bit. Then I went through a period of not talking about her at all. I was meeting new people, who almost always eventually asked, "Do you have any brothers or sisters?" Rather than complicate things, I would say no. But then sometimes people would start going on about how it must be hard to be an only child or sympathize because they, too, were only children. But I was an only child from age 21 on. Not quite the same. No matter what I said, it was complicated. And it always made people uncomfortable.

More than I wonder what my sister would look like, I wonder what our relationship would look like. Would we live near each other? Would we talk to each other once a week? Would she have children that would visit me for a while in the summers? Would we go on vacation together? Or would we have drifted apart or gotten into a huge fight which ended in our not speaking to each other ever again? I think that last option is not likely. We were close and had gotten closer as our parents were going through a divorce just before she died.

Most of the time, these anniversaries pass by unnoticed. I notice my sister's absence more often at family events. I will likely think about it when Geeky Boy graduates high school. Sometimes I think about her when I want to talk to someone who knows my history in a way that I don't have to explain it.

It's interesting how these events mark your life, but eventually become a faint scar about which you have a good story to tell. And yet, you keep rubbing the scar again and again, so that sometimes you feel the original pain.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Yep, this is right

ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)


Once I saw it I recognized that this is the result I always get.

Friday Random Ten

Completely random, but a really good one:

"the littlest birds" The Be Good Tanyas
"You Are the Sunshine in My World" Andi Hoffmann & B-Goes
"How You've Grown" 10,000 Maniacs
"Books Are Burning " XTC
"Erotik Platonik " Cubiky
"From Four Till Late" Robert Johnson
"Too Much" Dave Matthews Band
"No Quarter" Led Zeppelin
"Torn & Frayed" The Rolling Stones
"Control" MuteMath

,

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Call me fangirl

The Rufus Wainwright DVD I ordered arrived in the mail today. Yes, I know this is an unhealthy obsession, but I saw a preview of it online and I couldn't help myself. But, I've promised myself that I won't watch it until I've gone for a good walk and written for an hour.

Ear ringing update: the ringing is still there, but the doctor took out a hugh chunk of wax which he said was probably causing both problems. Everything should clear up in a day or two, but if it doesn't, I should go back. He also checked my hearing, which was cool. So far, no hearing loss. It runs in the family unfortunately.

I have the best family doctor ever. She checked me out, said she couldn't see anything wrong, but said she could tell it was really bothering me, so she got me in to the ENT doc right away. Everyone should have a doctor like her. And if you don't, find one!

Is it really Thursday already?

My ear is still ringing. I'm exhausted even though I went to bed at 10 last night. I have a whole meetingless day ahead of me. Yes, I'm going to the doctor. I literally can't think with the pain and buzzing. Bleh. The iPod drowns out the ringing and I've taken Tylenol. My hope is I can get in to the doctor before lunch. Knowing my luck, she'll be on vacation. It's been an extremely productive week, but I think the breakneck pace I was going at has now taken its toll and I'm longing for the freedom of the weekend.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Doing little things

So I missed the candlelight vigil. There were over 300 people signed up to attend, so I didn't feel too bad. If 100 showed up, it would look like a big deal. I've developed a rather horrific earache, so I think I'll be headed to the doctor tomorrow. I'm planning to go to bed with Geeky Girl in a little while, that's how bad it is.

But as guilty as I feel for not standing with the folks honoring Cindy Sheehan and protesting the action in Iraq, I feel pretty good for having helped in a tiny way with two smaller efforts. One, I helped send Sarah to New Zealand, and two, I contributed money to help Badger with her medical bills. I don't know these people, but I feel like I know the people who have asked for help on their behalf and so I felt like contributing. I'd like to do more little things like this. It seems like a lot of people have an extra 5 or 10 bucks lying around that they can give, which combined with a whole bunch of other people's 5 or 10 bucks makes a big difference.

Increasingly, I feel like it's the little things that make the biggest difference. I'm planning to continue looking for the little things and contribute to them as much as possible.

The prodigal children return

They're back! The children (and Mr. Geeky) returned last night in time for dinner. After dinner they went to visit friends; the friends came down to visit us; and back and forth. For several hours, five or six children went back and forth between our house and others. Back to normal.

Now the reprogramming begins. The kids have not been told "no" for two weeks. They've stayed up late, gotten to eat whatever they want. They've listened to Republispeak. That last one was pretty easy to remedy. We watched an episode of "The Daily Show" together. Geeky Boy was in stitches over Stewart's imitation of W. I'm also taking them to the candlelight vigil tonight in honor of Cindy Sheehan.

Geeky Girl looked especially unhappy last night when she went to sleep in her own bed. The dream has ended. Geeky Boy, on the other hand, seemed quite thrilled to be back in his own bed, back to having his own space and a little more freedom. He says he's going to start blogging again--yay! I've suggested he blog summaries of the books he had to read this summer. I hope he keeps it up.

It's good to have them back. Though I really enjoyed the time with Mr. Geeky and then, completely by myself, I feel like I have my real life back.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Grocery Store of the Rich

Last night on the way home, I stopped at the fancy schmancy grocery store for take out. The take out at this place is like fine dining. I have done this maybe twice in my now 5 years here. There are many things I don't like about this place. First, everything is inordinately expensive. Where most stores mark down the local chip brand, this one sells it at exactly the suggested retail price. The take out I got--a tasty thai chicken salad--was 8.99/pound. I was going to get some tortilla chips for the 4.99 spinach dip I was getting, but the only bag I could find was also 4.99 and it was tiny. I settled for 4.99 crostini instead. I could not shop like this forever.

Worse than the prices is the clientele. New Kid and people in her comments were lamenting the overly coiffed look of people in the South. The people in this store are seriously coiffed, but in a way that doesn't look like they're coiffed. They shop here all the time and think 4.99 for a small bag of chips is a bargain. They all look like they just returned from the Hamptons. The women have perfectly trimmed bobs. They're wearing shorts or mini skirts that probably cost more than my entire outfit. They have sweaters draped around their shoulders (a la the eighties preppy look). They smell good. The men are either a) in suits because they're on their way home from their really important job or b) in workout clothes that look nicer than the stuff I wear to work. They also smell good. Their attitudes come in two varieties: a) completely relaxed because they have a nanny, maid and cook at home who will make all this stuff or b) frazzled and angry because the nanny, maid and cook are waiting for them.

These are the people who live in the mansions I drive by. No one is ever home. You never see children playing in the yard or people sitting out on the patio. They are completely lifeless. I disdain these people. I was thinking about this disgust bordering on hate as I was driving home and trying to figure out why I react this way. Partly, I know, it's that I want to be them. I would like to have enough money that shopping in the expensive store is like shopping at Wal-Mart for most people. I envy their houses and clothes and cars. Partly, I'm mad that I didn't achieve this kind of wealth with the life that I chose. (Of course, transplant me to another part of the country and I'd be living almost as well as these people.) But it's easy for me to dismiss that envy pretty quickly and be thankful for what I do have. The other reason I don't like these people is their utter obliviousness to the plight of those around them. I've seen them abuse the people that serve them. I've seen them angry that people are in their way or won't give up their place in line for them. I'm certain they are not all that way, but I read that entitlement attitude into the looks I see on their faces.

I suppose I am prejudiced against them, the rich people. It's not a nice feeling really. I'd be happy to change my views. I'd like to find out that most rich people got their money honestly and donate heavily to worthy causes. I'd like to find out that most of them don't look down on people dressed in discount store clothing or driving late model cars. For now, though, that's not the image I get and so I don't frequent the stores of the rich.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Office Rant

And by office, I mean both my office and Microsoft Office. Before I begin my rant, I'd just like to say that things are looking quite promising for the upcoming year. I'm getting lots of interesting requests for workshops and information on screencasting, podcasting and blogging. Yay! So take this rant as a very minor part of my overall rosy outlook on my work life.

Every once in a while, someone, usually an administrator or someone not entirely familiar with what it is I actually spend most of my time doing, asks me to do a workshop on Office applications--you know, Word, Excel, etc. I almost always decline. First, I remind people that I am no expert in these applications. I use them as much as anyone else in a college environment does and probably less than many people. The kinds of things people ask for include mail merge and using templates, something useful for those running an office, but not necessarily for teachers. Second, I just don't think we should spend too much energy on teaching the basics of these applications when there's so much more to learn. There's a plethora of material on the web to help and the help documentation itself isn't too shabby. It will at least get one started. If the staff want to learn more complex tasks pertinent to their job, there's a separate budget for that to hire outside instructors.

Now, there are Word tasks I can think of that might be appropriate for students and faculty--especially for Word. For all of these, it would take some preparation on my part.

* Using the "Track Changes" and commenting features
* Using Word with Endnote
* How to add citations and footnotes
* Creating longer documents with chapters/sections; using the outlining features

About Excel, I have less to say. Those who need to do serious number crunching are using better tools. I can't really think of other uses that I could teach people.

Frankly, my life is increasingly on the web, including the life that might relate to applications like Word.

I'm not sure why this always gets under my skin, but it does. I think it's because I often perceive the request as a blatant misinterpretation of my job and almost insulting.

Note: I accidentally posted this for 30 seconds on my professional blog. Yikes, yikes! I know many people I work with read this blog, but I wouldn't want a post like this to be presented as "official" opinion. That said, I do often articulate this view almost word for word when this issue comes up, so it's not like I'm hiding something. The treacherous world of blogging!

One more day

I have one more day to myself. I'm kicking myself for not attending to the writing, but I got back from the walk later than expected and felt exhausted. I'm going to leave earlier this evening so I'll have time to recover before I have to sit down at the computer. I don't know how this is going to work as the evenings start earlier.

I also have not contacted my writing group. The truth is I've gone back and forth, but last night I decided that it's for the best if I quit. My heart's not truly in it anymore. I'm a little sad about that, but I think I need to move on. I need to see if I can write on my own for a while.

Work is going to continue to be busy today. We have two weeks until classes begin, but that seems like such a short time. Will everything get done? Will the syllabus get written? Will the workshops get planned? Will the lab get set up? I don't know. I think so. There are papers and proposals to write. Projects to finish. Loose ends from the summer to tie up. Food to order for a reception. It's too much, I tell you. (I'm okay now, just had to go a little crazy there.)

The kids return tomorrow after two weeks of being away. I'm looking forward to having them back of course, though I didn't get as much done with them gone as I had wanted. I think I can enlist their help once they return. I'm going to continue my decluttering tonight. I've found a Goodwill fairly close by, so I'm taking a bunch of my rejected clothes and the kids' outgrown ones to them. I have some big items to sell on Craigslist or Ebay. And I have to get my schedule together. I haven't come up with a definitive PIM solution yet, but I'm going to play with more in the next few days. For now I think I have to settle for iCal plus Palm plus work calendar. Why is nothing perfect? :)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Remains of the day

2 loads of laundry to fold, 2 to put away, 1 to wash-think I'm going to tackle some beach towels and bedspreads
1 room to declutter-the kids' homework table is good to go
2 school packets to send off
1 dinner to plan and make--curried egg salad sandwich, eggs are on--EATEN
1/2 hour of walking--turned into almost an hour
1 hour of writing
2 hours of bad tv to watch--tivo-ing mostly simpsons, king of the hill, and family guy

Women in Sciences

An interesting study out that suggests that countries where there are more educational choices for women have fewer women in the sciences. The idea is that cultural stereotypes lead women to "choose" a course of study they think they might be good at, usually stereotypically female subjects. Here's the take home message for me:
Rather than letting people take what they expect to love (or expect to be good at), educational systems should insist on more math and science for all students. As other research has repeatedly shown, choices made during adolescence are more likely to be made on the basis of gender stereotypes, so we should push off choice until later.
Even though the government won't be implementing any kind of science and math requirements, that doesn't mean that I can't insist my own daughter continue math and science through high school.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Success!

The mall trip was quite successful. I got several pairs of pants and some shirts. They're professional but a little funky. I saw a couple of jackets I might want, but couldn't find one in the right size. I had the hardest time finding shoes. I bought one pair of casual shoes, but couldn't find a good pair of work shoes. I hate spending $100 on a pair of shoes I might not like. So I have some online shopping to do. All in all a fun trip.

Now, though, I'm dealing with some ringing in my ear. I woke up with it, but the mall noise drowned it out. Now that I'm alone and things are quiet, it's a little annoying. I'm hoping it will go away by tomorrow. My ear feels a little stuffed up so I think that's the root of the problem.

Now the evening looms ahead with more laziness and relaxation.

Saturday on my own

I have the whole weekend to myself. I'm headed to the mall--something I don't do very often. It's supposed to be really hot today, so I think it will be good to be out of the heat. It's fun to wander around the mall when you have no goal. I usually only go when I have to get something specific from a specific store. I like to watch people at the mall too.

I also have to do laundry and other household chores--but at a relaxed pace. Work is already getting a little hectic. Requests are pouring in in addition to the projects I'm trying to finish. I also have a syllabus to write. Yes, that's right, I'm going to be working a full time job and teaching a class. Of course, the class is about blogging, so it will be fun. Here's the syallabus/description so far. We'll be inviting you all to check out our students' work throughout the semester. I consider this whole thing an adventure. I really don't know what's going to happen.

But today, I'm putting all those work thoughts behind me and just having fun!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Truly Random 10

I have about 5 different post possibilities in my head, but can't sort out which one is actually worth writing about. Then I remembered it was Friday, so I can't put off the sorting for a little bit.

"When I Get Low I Get High" Back Porch Vipers
"Dance Stamina" Pluto
"An Accidental Memory in the Cafe" Eluvium
"Mr. Atom" Hurts to Purr
"Midland " San Saba County
"Piano Man" Billy Joel
"I'm Not Angry" Elvis Costello
"Only The Good Die Young" Billy Joel
"Bukowski" Modest Mouse
"Half Magic" Matt the Electrician

Two Billy Joel songs. Yuck. Let's just say that I haven't really liked Billy Joel since the late 80s when I saw him in concert--really, really good. For some reason now, he totally grates on me. My students asked me why I still have him on my iPod. I don't know. My iPod is kind of like a history of my musical tastes as much as it is a record of my current tastes.

,

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Fashion stress

Jane had a great post on clothing the other day and of course, there was the Chronicle article and Profgrrrrl brought it up too. Why I worry about clothing I don't know, but I do. Perhaps it's because I sometimes make judgements about people based on the way they dress. I don't think it's conscious. I think it just happens. I'm less likely to do that if I've interacted with them via email, blogs, or chat or have read something about them so that I have something of their mind before I see the body it travels in.

More importantly for me is that I want my clothing, the way I dress, to reflect my personality. At work, I feel like I'm enthusiastic to the point of almost silliness about some of the things I do. I gesture with my hands a lot. I'm usually smiling and talking animatedly. So I want my clothing to be fun, yet professional. Kind of a hard look to manage. I tend to wear pants and nice shirts and cool, yet comfortable shoes. I'm willing to wear a skirt (and have) and heels (and have), but it's not really me. In my comment at Jane's, I said I was considering getting a suit. I want something kind of funky, something that is a suit, but doesn't quite look like a suit (if that makes any sense). And despite the stereotype, Mr. Geeky thinks about this stuff on occasion too.

I have a weekend to myself ahead of me and despite my dislike of shopping--especially when I'm looking for something specific--I'm planning to go in search of some funky, but professional, clothes, perhaps a suit, to start the year off with. It feels wrong to spend time on this in so many ways.

Pictures from the shore

Here's a picture of the crew post surfing. Click through to see the whole set. It was a blast!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Surfin' USA

Well, Delaware at least. My students and I are headed off to Rehoboth Beach to try our hand at surfing. We have a surfer girl in our group and she's promised to teach us. Of course, I think I'm standing around taking photos. It's going to take at least 3 hours to get there and we'll probably only stay for 4 or 5 hours and then drive 3 hours back. Yes, we're crazy. But I think it will be fun. Of course, I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Online community

I had an intriguing conversation at lunch with a couple of people who were lamenting the demise of the sit on your stoop and talk to your neighbors kind of community. I'm doubtful that that ever really existed and think that it might a romantic pre-modern notion of what life was like at some point in the past. I protested that I felt I had quite an online community that I enjoy being a part of and that it somewhat substitutes for not being close friends with my neighbors. After all, I said, the only thing I really have in common with my neighbors is that we live near each other. I said that online, I can find like-minded people to converse with.

Someone suggested that maybe it was a good thing to converse with people you may not have that much in common with. That's true, and it's not like I shun my neighbors. Just this past Saturday, we sat on our neighbors' porch and drank a couple of glasses of wine together. And during the school year, we all chat at the bus stop together. I suspect that my online friends are as diverse if not more so than my neighbors.

It made me see a gap opening up between those that long for some romantic past vs. those who embrace new ways of imagining community. I like face-to-face communities and I regularly interact with people face-to-face, but I also get a lot out of whatever you call this group of blogs I regularly interact with. I think it's somewhat a failure of imagination to not be able to see how one could get something out of interacting online. And it doesn't have to be a complete substitution, just like MTV doesn't substitute completely for radio or the internet for tv new. It can be a both/and world, but as so often is the case, people immediately jump to the zero-sum game.

I think the people around me thought that I was a little odd and maybe felt a little sorry for me, thinking that I didn't have any friends or something. Then again, I don't regularly hear about lots of dinner parties or sitting out on the stoop and chatting with neighbors from these people. Perhaps they're longing for something in their own past and not just a collective past.

Decluttering/Uncluttering

Jane writes about decluttering both physically and mentally. I did some of that yesterday. I need to do some more. I can live with clutter as long as I'm not thinking, "Is there something important in that pile that I need to attend to?" There are also little tasks I've put off, some for home and some for work. I'm hoping to be clutter free by the end of the week.

I dropped my book club a while back and now I'm considering dropping my writing group. The book group wasn't hard to drop. It had grown huge and I didn't really know many of the people in the group and didn't have much in common with them (I was the only full time working person). The writing group is another thing. I like them. It's a small group and hasn't changed in two years. But I'm finding I don't have time for it. They motivate me to write. I find, though, that reading their work takes up valuable writing time. And I feel guilty that I no longer want to commit to helping my fellow writers. But this is part of my decluttering--decluttering my schedule. Next semester (in just 3 weeks), I will be holding down a full time job and teaching a course. And there are after-school activities for the kids and a desire to stay on top of the homework. And I really, really want to make progress on the book. My life needs to run like a well-oiled machine if all that's going to happen.

So I have to decide whether to drop the group today. I'm considering telling them that I'm debating it and see if they have suggestions or if they, too, think it might be best for me to move on. I've been a bit lax about the group over the summer and I suspect they haven't been too happy with that. Saying no is such a hard thing.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Rocking Atlantic City

Awesome concert. All three artists--Ben Lee, Rufus, and Ben Folds--were great! The crowd wasn't very big, so I was in the 4th row of seating, able to see everything. I chose not to stand among the crowd of teenagers. At 5'2", this is just a bad idea for me. I was really amazed by Ben Folds' energy. He was just racing through song after song. It was amazing. Rufus was quite funny, making little comments throughout the show. His half-sister, Lucy Roche, did a couple of songs with him and he did two new songs, which I'm looking forward to seeing. It was really a good concert all the way around, worth the trip.

This morning, Mr. Geeky and I played penny and nickle slots for several hours. We started with $5 and cashed out with $15. At one point, we were up over $30, then back down to $7 and up to $15 again. Of course the night before, we blew through $15 without even thinking about it. Easy come, easy go as they say.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Absolutely glorious sound of rain

I'm sitting in my office and the rain has started. At first it just sounds like the wind rustling through the trees but then it builds up and now it's coming down the gutter and sounds like music--a drum beat with a little piano. We needed this.

In a couple of hours, we are headed to Atantic City to see Rufus! I have to thank my friend Eric for alerting me to the concert. We're making quite a night of it. There will be gambling and swimming in pools and eating and perhaps a massage to boot. I'm hoping to feel energized and refreshed so I can get back to work Tuesday.

I was perpetually tired all last week from the driving, and for some reason, I couldn't sleep at all. I think my poor brain knows that school is starting in just a couple of weeks and that I'm not prepared. So when I get back I have to buckle down and get some things done. For now, though, I'm putting it out of my mind.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Beach pictures!

Finally! Click through for more.

Life is good

Polite vs. Nice

My mother in law reports that Geeky Boy is being quite polite, which I think means he took my "No, thank you, Gram, I don't want any more" lessons to heart. It also made me think about the whole issue of politeness. Growing up in the South, politeness was valued. Many kids were required to say "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes sir." Really, adding "ma'am" and "sir" to anything was encouraged. My parents didn't exactly require it, but they did encourage us to use "Yes" as opposed to "Yeah" or "Yep." I'm suspicious of discourse requirements. I think it's often used to cover up things. It's like Orwell's "Politics of Language." I think you can be respectful without out having to use specific language. I mean, if kids say "yeah" among themselves, that's the way they say it and it's not exactly disrespectful to say it to adults.

The thing is, I always got the impression that all these requirements were not a respect thing, but meant to make you look "nice." Well, some of the meanest people I know are perfectly polite. Instead of focusing on politeness, we've focused on "niceness" or really "kindness." Having real empathy for people I think naturally leads to being polite. A "how are you" from someone who really empathizes with you has a bigger effect than it does when it comes from someone just "being polite."

Friday, August 05, 2005

I'm so proud

Here's a picture of my students protesting Rick Santorum's visit to our fair city yesterday. Click through for more. I love my students!!

I'm officially old

Last night, I was out with friends when they convinced me to go into the city to a club. Specifically, a gay karaoke club, though it could have been any club. I thought, what the heck, the kids are away, I don't do this very often. It'll be fun, I thought. Well, it wasn't exactly fun. I think me and one of my friends were the only people over 30; the music was so loud, you couldn't carry on a conversation; the air was smoky; and at one point, I was planning my escape in case of fire to try to beat the masses of panicked dancers. I was describing this to others this morning. And they said, "Face it, you're old."

Yeah, okay. I'm old. I don't enjoy being in a dark smoky rooms with music so loud my head is vibrating. But you know what, I never really did. Yes, I went to clubs more often when I was younger, but much less often than going to blues bars, dives with good live music, or just out for burgers and beer and good conversation. My idea of a good time is having good friends around to talk to. Clubs are not about that.

So maybe I'm old. Whatever. That doesn't make me any less cool. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Women, and other oddities of the tech world

I've had an extremely interesting day of thinking today, all thanks to blogs. Today at work we spent some time discussing where we think technology is going. What does the future look like and what should we as an educational institution do to prepare? As an all-women's college, I think the technology issue is a more pressing one for us. I personally think it's important to embed technology in the education in a way that its use is required, ubiquitious and intuitive. I think the students should feel as at home with web research as with library research, that they should feel as comfortable using their cell phones and laptops and video cameras as pens, paper and staples to create thoughtful content. Very little was discussed about gender in particular, but it's on all of our minds a lot. We talk about it informally all the time.

In our discussions about social software, I was happy to see everyone pretty much on board with the idea of the way it creates community and how can be used to share resources and ideas. But we also discussed it's drawbacks, the way the community sometimes links to the same stuff, the circular way this linking works. And that made me think of women and blogging, the topic that returns to the blogosphere more regularly than the sparrows of Capistrano. And then I ran into some posts about the BlogHer conference, most of which discuss this problem of inlinking. My response to the problem of inlinking of resources on the web was that we have to teach students how to look deeper, to do more complex searches, to be suspicious when the same url comes up over and over again and not assume that because it does, it must be the authority. The web is a big place; the world is a big place. And it occurred to me that calls for more complex algorithms to find communities online is kind of the same thing. We're asking a computer program to look more deeply, more complexly. And like research, a more complex search creates a better landscape, a better outcome for everyone.

Adding women to that landscape is better for everyone. It's what I'm constantly trying to do. I want those diverse voices that I don't hear in my day-to-day experiences. Not, what kind of technology do women want, but what kind of technology will they create or help create? How will women change the technology landscape? And how have they already?

Rufus!!

I'm doing it! I'm taking my little self to see Rufus in Atlantic City. What the hell. Woo hoo!

(okay, that was pretty geeky)

Addendum

Make that 3 times--all my text is disappearing!!

Wednesday Whining, or stream of consciousness complaining

I'm gearing myself up for whining today. I'm tired. I could not go to sleep last night despite having several drinks with friends which should have knocked me out completely. But the effects pretty much wore off by 9 p.m. Still, I was too tired to write, nearly too tired to blog (though I managed). I read Harry Potter for a few hours. I'm disappointed that I didn't really accomplish anything yesterday--no laundry, no writing, no cleaning up, not even much at work. I wish I could just stay at home between now and the time school starts and work just a few hours out of each day because really, that's all the work I have. The rest is filler. It's depressing to send out email to people only to receive a vacation message in response that indicates the receiver is in an exotic location for a month. I want to be in an exotic location dammit. And I don't want to be tied to my desk reading email from people in exotic locations. I want a book deal, a movie deal, or some kind of job that has a little more flexibility. Or barring that (because I do like my job), I'd like to figure out what kind of schedule would satisfy my antsiness. 7 to 3? Actually, I could work 8-3:30 (with only 1/2 hour lunch). Hmmm.

I have too much on my mind these days--the bills, the looming school year, the aching desire to run away. My only hope is that the weekend will prove relaxing enough to take all the anxiety away because right now I just want to stay home and finish the Harry Potter book, maybe do a load of laundry and watch the last two episodes of The Daily Show. And the reason I can't do this? Some sort of weird notion of responsibility on my part. How odd.

/whine

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sad, but true

I was writing a post about how I had time to write a post at work. Then I got involved in a deep conversation about something and forgot to post it. Can't find the "recover post" option. Maybe I'll find it at work. Scary. I'm exhausted, not being used to working and all. I think I have a good whine for tomorrow involving returning to work from the sandy shores of South Carolina. We'll see if I can work it into enough of a frenzy to qualify for Phantom's Wednesday whining contest. I've been pretty content lately so it's been hard to compete.

My students came in today and demanded I take them to the beach next week. I said okay. What else are you going to say? They've been working hard. They're great, and one of them promised to teach us how to surf. It's going to be a blast. In years' past, we've played putt-putt, gone to grown up video arcades (games with drinks), gone to movies or out for a nice meal. I think this will be a good topper. Once their work is up and running, I'll show it to you all. It really is fabulous. I wish I could take credit. They deserve more than a day at the beach.

Back to work

I'm about to hop in the shower and prepare myself for my first work day post vacation. Yes, vacations recharge me, but they also make me long for that kind of freedom year-round. Though I greatly enjoy my job and the people I work with, it doesn't compare to the joy of controlling your own time. There are many things at my job I'm truly looking forward to, but I know what I'm missing. Time to write and read. Being home when the kids get off the bus. Days off with the kids. Some people say they'd die if they couldn't work. I say they're crazy. I'm looking forward to retirement like one big vacation.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Geography, inlaws and food

I'm back. Took an extra day to drive even further across the country to drop the kids off with the inlaws. My mother-in-law drives me batty sometimes. She is the nicest person, but . . . So Mr. Geeky called her to confirm our meeting place at a hotel outside of Pittsburgh. That was an issue in and of itself. We wanted to stay in Pittsburgh, a city I actually like, but the inlaws didn't. They have issues with cities, even though their own city is roughly the same size as Pittsburgh. Whatever. Anyway, we're driving from the coast of South Carolina. It's going to take two days for us to get to Pittsburgh. Mr. Geeky calls his mom from the road. His mom freaks out.

MGM: "What do you mean you're on the road? We're not."
MG: "Mom, it's a 12-14 hour drive. We're stopping tonight. We'll see you tomorrow."
MGM: "Oh."

We drive about 7 hours the first day, stopping in Virginia for the night. We leave as early as we can the next morning because we're not sure how far we have to go or how long it might take. We're in the middle of nowhere the whole time. Seriously, I had no cell phone service the whole drive. Finally, just outside our destination, we call the inlaws to tell them we're almost there. They've hit traffic and are hours away. We check into the hotel, change into swimsuits, go for a swim, come back and call again. More traffic--and they forgot about the time change from central to eastern. Sigh. Finally, they arrive. We go out to eat. I have a margarita.

The next morning, my mother-in-law is in full swing, trying to feed everyone mass amounts of food from the breakfast buffet. Every couple of minutes, she asks someone if they want more food. "Do you want some fruit? A banana? How about a waffle?" Even if people say no, she asks them again. Ugh. After breakfast, I coach the children on how to turn down food politely. "Thanks, Gram, but I've had enough." "No, thank you. I really can't eat any more." We practice.

Ah, the joys of coming home. And tomorrow I return to work--bleh! We're kid-free for two weeks. Good and bad. This is always a bittersweet time of year. The end of summer; the last free moments of lounging on decks, of leisurely evenings without homework. But the fresh start of a new school year. New books. New things to learn.