Friday, September 12, 2014

Missing my boys

I haven't seen my 10 year old since Wednesday morning! And my 12 yo since yesterday morning. L had outdoor education at a camp 1h30 away & Kelvin had the 7th & 8th grade retreat. 

I miss them!! K & I couldn't really enjoy our time to ourselves because we had so much work and I "needed" to finish a free photo book (I know... Bad me, but 29 dollars off is good, no?).

We still got to have dinner together last night at this tiny Middle eastern restaurant and froyo afterwards. And we watched a movie at home! (More about the movie later! We overdosed on Linklater last week, hopefully we'll get to see Boyhood on Sunday!)

I can't wait to go pick up my boys in school though! (I'll leave in a few minutes) and then... We head to a house church retreat later today. I LOOOVE retreats, can't wait!!! (Though I'll be busy cooking/coordinating the food)

Friday, September 05, 2014

Sometimes, I just want to sit down and have a good cry...

... But I have a hard time doing it. There are too many good things in my life, and I know I should count my blessings instead.

 Sometimes, however, it is too overwhelming! I am always doing too much, being pulled into too many directions. Most of all, this lack of a real job and a definite direction in my life sometimes takes its toll on me.

Today I spent four hours with other faculty at University number one, and I felt keenly aware that all those other people in the room had an actual job, but I didn't. After four full years of this, it is starting to get old and hard to bear. 

As much as I enjoy this these new initiatives, and getting to know more people at the University, and, why not say it? Being paid to go to this... Sometimes I wonder if it's not just a waste of my time. A waste of precious psychological energy too, all because I'm passionate about researching teaching and learning.

I love to learn new things! I enjoy challenges and working in a group. I thrive doing these activities (like various faculty institutes). But, at the end of the day, I know they're throwing crumbs at me by allowing "part-time faculty" to participate of these faculty enrichment activities.

I feel like saying outright "I have all these great ideas, why won't you just give me a job so I can put them into practice?" The associate dean was there, I wish I could have said this to him! I wish academia worked in a more straightforward manner. But it's impossible, there are too many of us desperate overqualified souls.

 Too many things go through my head as I walk around each of the campuses, that's why I just wish I could sit down and have a good cry.  But crying won't solve my problems.  It will provide momentary relief, but that just means I'll cry again soon in the future.

So I just hold the tears. I don't allow myself time to break down and feel like a failure (and I know I can still cry and know I'm not actually a failure, but still...).

I "spoke" this post into my phone while driving to pick up my boys from school. I'm almost there now, so I will stop. It felt funny, like I was recording for an NPR show! Maybe I will do this again soon!

This is not a letter or an email, but I still want to finish saying that I hope everybody has a good weekend! :-)

Gluten Free for a Week

I'm doing an experiment. I'm going gluten free for a week, just to see if I'll feel any different. Some adult ADHD specialists, particularly Jacqueline Sinfield affirm that going gluten-free helps people with ADHD. Frankly, I'm skeptical, but why not give it a try? Of course the recommended period is 30 days and I may continue longer and see.

I'm also curious to see if it'll have any effect on my IBS (which is relatively mild, mostly with morning symptoms).

I don't eat lots of gluten to being with. I eat bread sparingly, and I totally don't mind not eating pasta. I have always, for as long as I can remember, been drawn to and LOVED gluten-free foods, particularly potatoes and manioc starch products (especially "cheese rolls" -- pão de queijo --> links to mouth-watering images!).

I've also been paying attention to food labels for a while now and I think I can do pretty well -- as far as frozen meals for work are concerned. All of the Amy's Kitchen frozen meals I like are gluten-free!

Oh... I have an event at the university tomorrow and I don't think they'll have gluten free options!! (I didn't ask ahead of time, I didn't know I would be doing this experiment boo!) Oh well... having to cheat on my second day is no good... In any case, I can keep going later.

I don't know if it's the lack of gluten, but I'm not sleepy at all tonight! I bet I'll be tomorrow morning, though, I'll see!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Reveling in the Warmth, Dreading the Freezing Cold

ETA: written on my cell phone, walking from the car to the building where I teach :-)
I'm not just "enjoying" the hot weather, I'm drinking it like the thirstiest person would. I'm trying to soak it, absorb it, try to feel it so much on my skin so I can keep the delightful sensation in my memory for as long as I can because I know it won't last long.

I almost feel a quiet despair thinking that it will soon be all over. That's why I don't enjoy he Fall season anymore, unlike many of my blog friends. I know the cicadas will stop singing and the crickets too. The world will have almost no green. 

And (silly superficial me!) I have too many dresses -- ha! You call them "sundresses" in this country. Too many summer clothes that I feel I barely get to use. :-(

Yeah, I'm not looking forward to Fall & Winter!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Saudade (& Gorgeous Maragogi!)

When distress and almost despair overtook me last week K & I felt like we always do in such situations -- a rare feeling, to be frank! -- we felt like we might want to go back to Brazil if things didn't/don't get better.

Home. I don't even talk like that about my home country now that home is really here. And not because we own our fourth house in this country. And even in spite of the fact that we always feel like "accidental immigrants."

I can hardly believe that I was there this year. January feels so so distant from the sad "shores" of early September! Sigh...

Talking of shores, I never shared images more than one image of where we were in Maragogi, right? -- only borrowed from other people [scroll down] before I'd even set foot on that sand and that water. No filters, first two photos taken by my sister-in-law D in her Canon, remaining taken by me with my Nikon (D5100).

Last week, on the morning I had my conversation with NH s/he asked if I'd gone to Brazil in the summer and when I said with sadness in my voice that I probably would only be back there in 2016 s/he asked "Why?" "Because I cannot afford it!" I answered, to which s/he retorted, "Oh, that's right, you have kids!" (and then I added that we're going to the Middle East + Europe(hopefully!) next summer with my in-laws and that's also why I can't afford to go to Brazil as well).

Anyway... I thought it was pretty bad timing to be talking about the fact that I can hardly ever go to Brazil while they didn't even wanted to offer me a full-time job. Sigh...

Yeah, we know that going back is not a "cure-all" solution and never would be, but sometimes it feels like it would help.

The lovely beaches (thousands of miles away from where we'd live, haha!) would be nice too. ;-)

Monday, September 01, 2014

New (to me) Wedding Music

This summer I went to two weddings which couldn't have been more different and I want to share some of the music since I don't know if I can or should share photos. (maybe in a another post?)

Two weekends ago we went to Philadelphia to attend my husband's Brazilian/Chilean postdoc colleague (not tenured at UPenn!) who is a really dear friend of ours. I met the bride at the wedding, but my husband had already stayed at their house so he knew her -- such a lovely young woman!

The bride walked in to "The Book of Love" and I couldn't believe I had never heard this delightfully moving song (covered by Peter Gabriel). I'm sure you know it, in case you don't here is a HQ youtube version I can't stop listening to:

There's also a live rendition by Peter Gabriel and while the orchestra and the backup singer are great, he's more speaking than singing in certain parts. Blogger wouldn't let me have three embedded videos, I don't know WHY!! :-( so it's this one here.

At the other wedding, the bride walked in with a live (and extra slow, because it was too hard for the pianist) version of this pretty earworm that apparently is all the rage at weddings all over the place (because of Twilight, apparently):

And I also gather (from YouTube comments) that "The Book of Love" has been in quite a few movies & TV shows and the cover was actually recorded for a movie (that I learned from Wikipedia).

I'll try to find some wedding photos that don't show people to share.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

August, be gone already! / Agosto já vai tarde!

Seriously, I'm so over August. The end of this month was traumatizing, to put it mildly... sigh.

Last week after I gave one of my office-mates the good news she told me that now I could go celebrate with my husband.

Celebrate? I don't think I have any reason to celebrate. I am very relieved that it worked out, but I'm just even more bitter about my whole work situation. It's getting too tiresome to advocate for myself and to try to avoid being even more unfairly exploited.

I feel stronger, but at the same time even more cynical, skeptical and bitter. You know... I truly love getting older and I don't feel like going back to my younger, more naive and inexperienced years -- no way! I value all my past experiences, good and bad. One thing I kind of feel sorry about, though. I've always been kind of "childish" in a way, very enthusiastic, motivated, energized and these troubles only make me less so. They seem to seep into the fabric of who I am and deposit a thin layer of bitterness over everything. That, I don't like.

It's part of life though. And I can choose to remain positive and enthusiastic. I don't want to be one of those bitter old ladies, oh, no! And I think I won't be, so I need to get over it. That's why I'm glad this month is over. As we say in Portuguese, "it's leaving late already."

Good riddance! ;-)

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Print

Just got the scanned offer letter in an email.

Relief.

Now to sign it, take a picture and email it back, and, more calmly now, carry on.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whole

Maybe it's weird, but I feel "whole" again now. It seemed, after all my indignation about the unfairness of how I was being treated and the distress I went through, that something was irreparably broken.

Walking around the sun-drenched building on my way to my office after I'd taught my classes on the first day (Tuesday) around 2 pm, I felt very raw and out of place. Not only because I was utterly exhausted, having slept only from 5-7:20 am and not having eaten a thing since about 10:30 pm the night before and feeling still slightly high on adrenaline, but because I felt just plain broken. Like a piece of cracked china that will eventually be discarded. I had fought and lost. I felt that I didn't really belong in that building. The only lecturer who was not full-time. The odd one.

And I opened my email to find a strange email from the chair that I didn't much like. I responded with two other emails, asking why we couldn't offer another class in the Spring, and by the time I wrote my "perspective" post he had written me a nice email saying he was meeting with the dean the next morning. I volunteered to compile some numbers in a document, showing that 24 students had remained on the waiting list (for a class of 18) when classes started and to demonstrate the demand for the class which, I argued, could be offered again in the Spring. I emailed him the document and went to bed.

To make a long story short, I talked to new hire (NH) briefly in the morning (s/he needed to approve of this plan of the new class, according to the chair -- I had also emailed NH the document) and had another brief meeting with the chair in the afternoon and s/he said that the dean had agreed with them letting me teach one more class and, thus, have a yearly full-time contract.

My husband had been bit upset about my angry email from the middle of the night, but I guess it worked... I'm happy, but the way things transpired was quite strange. Last Friday the chair had said that it looked promising, that he would use this money/line from "other language." Why did he change his mind? I really don't buy the "blaming the dean" story. Sigh... Since yesterday he said that he had told the dean that there wasn't a need to ask for funding because he was using another line that hadn't been used. (and I was "You said what??" in my head). Anyway... and there's one more thing that NH said that demonstrated that they'd obviously been talking to each other about the situation.

So... yeah, my fight will continue, but at least I don't feel broken anymore and I know that in the long run I'll be stronger and even more motivated to advocate for myself. Not that I have much, if any, leverage 'cause I don't.

Most importantly, I'm no longer the odd-one. Now I can look all my lecturer colleagues in the eye and not feel a pang inside. (Of course it's still kind of painful to know that some of my colleagues have a 3 year contract & make 50K, not 36). I've got a long way to go, I guess... we'll see what will happen.

(if you're curious, what I'd really like is that a position opened at U#1 where my husband works & I could go back there & not have the long commute anymore)

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" Matthew 7:7 KJV

(and 7 is my favorite number [teary-eyed], I was born on 7/7)

"For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."

Matthew 7:8 (English Standard Version)

I was offered the full-time position.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Perspective

I still have two "half jobs."

I enjoy teaching and (most of ) my students are great.

I will only be missing 6K from last year's income. Maybe I could even teach another class at U#1 to help me get some of that?

It may hurt not to have "full-time status" anymore as a woman in her 43rd year and basically no perspective of a "real career," but it's not the end of the world.

It really really hurts to be aware of the unfairness of one's situation, but compared to millions of disenfranchised people in the world, life is very far from unfair to me.

Most everything else is lovely in my life, why be so bothered by this.

Pain and emotional distress make us more sensitive to other people's suffering and, hopefully, better people.

I hate to live this "roller-coaster" life, but it's the only life I have, so it's ok.

I can choose to be happy in spite of my frustrations and sense of being unfairly treated.

I'm sure there would be many more items in this list, but I'll stop here for now.

And now I'm just so sleepy my eyes are closing. I think I won't even have dinner before collapsing.

I'm done. Thanks for being a sympathetic (albeit silent!) listener to my plight.

Edited to add: I received a nice email from the chair just now. I don't think things will change because apparently it really IS the dean that's the problem, not him. And not the new hire as I suspected. I must not let my hyperfocus & mental hyperactivity related to negative situations and facts rule my brain, right?

The Angry Email.2 & PANIC!! I'll Need Rec. Letters!

First, let me explain that the original angry email was read, edited and vetted by my very cool-headed (but not less indignant) husband. So I think it was pretty OK.

Last night, however, I didn't want to wake up my husband. I tried. I made noise in the bedroom. Turned my bedside lamp, turned the bathroom lights and left the door open, sat in bed, whispered his name, but no... he didn't stir. :-(

So, a couple of hours after I wrote that angry blog post, I also emailed the chair. I don't really "regret" per se what I wrote, but I actually suggested a "solution" to the problem that he said could be tried (creating a new section of beginner language and dumping my advanced students into colleague's class -- a "solution" not guaranteed by any means which would have me teaching three 5-contact hour classes and being paid the same as 3). That was kinda of dumb of me, right?

Anyway, after having stayed awake until 5 am and then waking up at 7:30 to leave and teaching for almost 4 hours straight, when I drove home late afternoon I had to call K on the phone to stay awake (and -- I NEVER EVER do this & I'm generally caffeine-free, but there were soft drinks from a party they had yesterday, so & I actually grabbed a can of Coke and drank almost the whole thing before getting to the car, I really felt like I needed the caffeine for safety).

During that long conversation while I drove, K was telling me about the things he feels I shouldn't have written in that email and then he dropped a bomb that will have to color my interactions with everyone at U#2 and, which according to him, my email has jeopardized: I will need recommendation letters from these people I deem so unfair.

So, yeah, I wish I could just continue on my way carelessly, but I will need their recommendations if a position opens elsewhere, that's for sure.

Sigh... I don't need to ask the chair though, do I? And I still want to try to have a better relationship with NH (new hire).

OK, that's it, post over. I'll write another one in which I want to bring some perspective into the panicky last 24h.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Those EXPLOITATIVE MONSTERS!!

(because I don't swear, I cannot bring myself to, even under such absurdly & patently unfair circumstances)

What would you do?

A family to help feed and clothe and no possible real job in sight FOREVER and ever. Those are my prospects.

I wish I could just walk away and force them to try to hire someone to teach my classes the night before I start teaching them.

That's what I wish I could do

Because having the courage to tell someone that YES, that's what we're going to do with you, exploit you for all you're (NOT) worth and "Hahaha!" if you walk away it's OK, just do it. The night before, when work has already been put in, when you've been communicating with students, when they know you need the money...

THAT is inhumane, not just unfair, it's... I don't even have the words for it.

How am I supposed to answer that email? How can I even face my students at 9:30 am tomorrow morning, after a 1h+ drive and such emotional turmoil? How can I find the strength to do this?

And the worst thing is that I KNOW there'd by a desperate person somewhere willing to move to make only, say, 20K a year to teach these classes. That's how absurd the situation in academia has gotten. They can get away with ANYTHING because that's how desperate we all are.

Why do I allow myself to be tortured like this?

If I don't do this we may not go really hungry, but I don't know if we can really pay the mortgage and live. For sure we won't be able to travel next year, we won't do so many things, I just can't do it.

But teaching 5 class meetings and being paid the same as 3 is something I wish I could refuse to do.

What in the world can I do?? But sign on that dotted line and walk like a silent lamb to the slaughter? I'd rather go kicking and screaming, but for who to hear?

If I could do some kind of protest, something, anything but WHAT? HOW?

I think that they actually WANT me to quit, they totally do!

How can I go back to putting the final touches on my syllabus now, How?

First Day Blues

I'm not looking forward to going back to teaching this afternoon. The facts that I don't yet have a contract at U#2 and that at U#1 I've been having less and less students register for my classes every Fall are just depressing.

I hope I will soon get more energized when I meet the students and begin to interact with them. I need to feel more enthusiastic so they will be too! Hopefully adrenaline will kick and things will fall into place. Sigh...

There are many good things to consider, actually:

  • I now have a great car for my mega-commute, 
  • I have Fridays off (though I'll be taking on a 6-week project at U#1, if accepted, and I've scheduled multiple therapy appointments for this day), 
  • I have a new, amazing office in a renovated building (I hope to have time to write a post about this later)... 
And of course some negative things, the main one is: I didn't finish the HUGE translation project I started in the summer and now I have to try and squeeze it in while teaching 5 classes, with 11 contact-hours per week and around 10 hours of commuting...

I know it will all work out at the end, but I feel overwhelmed and not very hopeful. I will have to write about this later, but I think that having the ADHD diagnosis is actually being detrimental to my well-being right now rather than helpful. :-( I just feel like I'm trapped and there's no way out, whereas before I just rolled with the punches & got stuff haphazardly done, but mostly done. Now it's like I'm paralyzed by own incompetence.

GAH!!!

Sorry about the negativity. Hopefully I'll be over all this soon. or not. we'll see...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sleeping In.2

I know it's ridiculous to have two posts in a row with the same title, but I couldn't help it, it's kinda fun!

We drove to PA Friday night because we had a wedding to attend yesterday. We left our kids with friends and went to the wedding, which was small, cozy and fabulous (too bad it rained and it was all held inside this beautiful barn instead of outdoors).

We decided to drive back last night & got home around 2 am, so K & I took our last day of summer break to sleep in until 11 am! It wasn't as bad as last Friday, but I still feel a bit out of sorts. Sunday afternoon/evening is the absolute worst of the week for K & I, though, it's hard to feel cheerless on Sundays. :(

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sleeping In

I hadn't slept in in ages. In addition to that, I'd been going to bed 1-2 am every single night... 

This morning I could have gone to a general faculty reception & meeting with my husband, but as an adjunct I don't really need to & it just makes me mad, so I decided to stay at home because I had tons of things to do -- Ha ha!!

After getting up and preparing the boys' lunch (K dropped them off) and checking email, I decided I would to back to bed -- that it would be my lady chance in a while to sleep in. I woke up at noon, with a soft rain falling outside! It was nice, but it made me feel guilty.

The biggest problem, however, is that I had a really hard time getting awake & got really sluggish, with a foggy head, so I wasn't very productive for the rest of the day! :-( And then I felt even guiltier! :-( oh well... I can't go back in time now!

We're on ou way to PA where we have a wedding tomorrow. Too close to the beginning of school, but it's ok. The groom is a really close friend of my husband from his postdoc. We're also going to stay at our friends' house, we haven't been there in over a year!

Sorry, but I feel completely dull right now... But hopefully I'll be my mostly enthusiastic self soon!

Dark Blue

Same dress, different sandals, different nail color. This time I splurged on the "good brand" online because I couldn't find this color anywhere (and I was curious to see if this brand was really good or what, it was!). Links later added! (I'm I was on my phone)
Edited to add: Nobody will be curious, but just in case, it's a color named "style cartel" and described as "inky cobalt blue." I debated between this one and "after school boy blazer" color or "midnight cami." Such creative names! ;-)

First Day - Same Lunch as 7 Years Ago!

On Sept. 6, 2007 my five-year-old son went to school (two weeks late) for the first time -- you can read all the details & see lots of photos here!!

This year, I decided to prepare again the very first lunch he had nearly seven years ago for the boys to take to school on their first day (which was last Tuesday): Inari Sushi!

Too bad my younger son doesn't really like Inari (he doesn't like the sweet tofu pouches, and I forgot to include soy sauce!) :-(  But Kelvin devoured them all!

(And I was there to see -- I sent the lunches with them in the morning, but then remembered I needed to photograph them for the blog, so I went back to the school! ;-) Ha! what a devoted blogger I am!)

No, but seriously, I had to do that because I was very excited I'd made the same ("exotic") lunch from 2007! ;-) And I love it how the boys and I can keep all these memories very  handy because of my blog. YAY!