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!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Contract Yet

Quick update on the current situation: I haven't signed a contract yet, but I begin to work teach on Tuesday (I've been working already on syllabi, etc). Who knows how late my first paycheck will be! :-( (the regular one comes only at the end of September, already very late).

I bumped into the Dept. Chair today and s/he told me that s/he was working on my case and that a decision (probably in my favor) would be made by tomorrow. I'm just hoping it will be true.

There are many things going on in my life which I'm not blogging and I guess that part of the reason I'm "blocked" is this unsettling situation of not being sure of what will happen. I know I have a job and that I'm teaching, but I hope it can be a bit more "fair" of a job. At least a one year contract. Obviously I would much prefer a 3 year one and 50K instead of 36K, but I have to be thankful for whatever I have.

what a way to being a new semester, right?

OK, I got this out of the way and I may have good news soon, so maybe now I can resume "regular blogging."  Sigh...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Driving back home

Just to say that we're driving back home today. 

I wrote a nice long post about all this earlier, but I was offline and left the app & lost it. :-(

So I'll just do this laconic post for now. We had a lovely time with family in Montreal & they're driving down to visit us next weekend! That should be great! 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Road Blogging

We are much more careful with data usage now that we're using Ting & no longer have Sprint's unlimited data (and high bill). It's so much better this way!

Instead of paying nearly 200/month for three lines and having the impression that you have more freedom because of the "unlimited" usage, we still use quite a bit and pay way less! (70-80 a month)

We're stopping on the way and visiting a friend we haven't seen in years, meeting her husband and three young children, and tomorrow we'll arrive in Montreal in time for our nephew's birthday party!

It's a long trip, but worth it! (I think I'll take a nap now!)

On the Road (to Canada) Again!

We're driving to Canada today to meet the new (and very last) :-( nephew in the family.

In don't have time to blog because the alarm didn't go off and we need to get ready to leave! I hope not to forget anything!

P.S. I'll try to blog from the road.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Angry Email

I got my head off the sand and hit the ground running, angrily.

Whether my argumentative and "deeply disappointed" email will have have any effect, remains to be seen... I know they won't be moved by the fact that I've been "stripped off benefits" and will still teach 19 contact hours this year (13 of them this Fall) and not get any benefits.

As we say in Portuguese, I wish the chair and the new dean ('cause I suppose the outgoing dean won't have anything to do with this anymore after having made the decision) could "put their hand on their consciences" ("por a mão na consciência") and give me a full-time contract already.

Sigh... I cannot stand too many more years of this, that's for sure! But what is the alternative? What is it???

Trying to Unbury my Head Off the Sand

For two weeks I buried my head on the sand, so to speak, and didn't do anything about my outrageous offer letter. Well, outrageous to me. Thousands of people  receive such letters at the start of every semester, some perhaps only a few days before classes start. And most are paid way less than I am per class (national average is 2,500, at my current institution I'm paid 6K, even though two of those classes meet FIVE CLASS HOURS a week which brings me into the 2.5K territory!!).

The Adjunctification of Higher Education has reached epidemic proportions and the fact that it's a systemic problem without a solution in sight just depresses me more. I'm just one more statistic, one more fool who keeps swelling the ranks of desperate people with PhDs practically begging for a job and willing to be exploited at the mercy of these schools.

I tried to prevent this moment. I met with the chair last year in October or November, then again in February, but my fate had already been sealed by the dean -- one of her this person's deeds before moving on to a shiny new position (as college president or something?) out West. I don't wish him/her well, I have come to loathe university and college administrators. Sigh...

Just last week the issue of adjuncts was part of PBS's News Hour and there are people who actually want to bring our plight to the Labor Department. I don't see anything coming of it...

It's just one more example of how higher education is crumbling and becoming more and more like corporate America. GAH!!

Collateral damage, that's what I am/ we are. Simply collateral damage, as long as the parents are willing to pay, the schools will be willing to go on exploiting people.

Sigh... I think I'll be happier with my head still in the sand, I'll unbury it only long enough to write an angry letter to the chair which will not amount to anything, probably -- my husband wants to write/co-write the letter. And I'll go back to stressing out about students enrolling and feeling my anxiety builds as the semester is about to start...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

95% Diagnosed?!

Wow... it was a really drawn out process, this "getting labeled" thing!

Sigh...

And kind of frustrating, to be frank. After my first visit back in June I was given one diagnostic questionnaire for me and three to give to friends and family to take. I really didn't have many options as to who could take it, so I had my husband take one, my 12 year old son another and my one local Brazilian friend answer the third.

It turns out that the three of them thought that most of questions were quite irrelevant (they thought it was mostly about a school child -- if I fidgeted in my seat at school or something) and while my husband saw some mild distractability in me (about 65% in the evaluating scale), my friend and my kid basically flunked me.

My responses, on the hand, passed with flying colors, A+! Ha! Now the doctor had a quandary -- I see myself 100% ADD, but other people don't necessarily agree -- based on those questions, obviously! Talking to them, especially to my husband, indicates that they are aware of certain things I do and ways I behave that certainly point to ADD. I also took the other computer-based test, which I did in less than an hour (it's supposed to take up to two hours) and that one is supposed to rule out other conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder. The doctor didn't spend a lot of time going over that one, but I suppose I don't have the other two conditions. I asked him to take two more questionnaires home to have other people respond and see if it would help with the diagnosis and he agreed.

In between my second and third visit I was reading one of my journals and I found this piece of paper in it that I had written when I was 18 years old. I was trying to "define myself" and describe what I was like, so and I typed it up and printed it for the doctor. It was a list of about 50 or more characteristics, many of which are classic ADD symptoms such as:
- talkative
- clumsy/  all-thumbs (I let things fall all the time)
- undisciplined (not in school, in life – I’m impulsive)
- disorganized
- I think too much
- impulsive (I do whatever pops up in my head, whatever I wish, at whatever time)
- unquiet, restless (that kind that “doesn't stay in one place” “doesn't stop moving”)
- I leave everything for the last minute (work, assignments), PROCRASTINATOR
- impatient (I cannot wait for things)
- explosive (I explode, but in a minute it’s always well) “Never take me seriously when I’m nervous or explode because in five minutes I wouldn’t be able to repeat half of what I said”
- I speak everything I think (even too much, even what I shouldn’t)
- Impatient to an extreme
- I’m always in a hurry (I’m always running and I climb stairs jumping 2 or 3 steps at a time)
- Clumsy
- Forgetful (of details, but I generally remember on time to fix things)
- Absent minded (for my stuff)
- Irritable
- Ultra-impatient
(Note that I wrote impulsive twice and impatient three times throughout the list -- as I wrote this list over weeks and months and kept going back to add things as I thought them out)

Other characteristics (I'm not going to bore you with the whole list):
- dreamy
- exaggerated
- anxious
- nervous
- screamer
- loud
- transparent
- Enthusiastic
- Extremely vivacious
- Rebellious
- bossy
- annoying (a hard to translate term in Portuguese "chata")
(screamer & nervous also showed up twice each)

The doctor thought it was good that I had all this "proof" of me having had these characteristics for a long time. I also went over my challenges and and even read this blog post from 2011 to him, which he thought it was also "classic" of ADD people.

Prior to that visit I also had my husband fill the questionnaire with my mom over the phone (she dismissed a lot of questions, she believes that I "want" to be ADD rather than actually being it, sigh...). And I photographed it and had my good friend J (who reads my blog and knows me relatively well [except for the things she can't see because my husband cleans the house and my messes!]) email me her responses so I could fill it out.

I should have had the doctor go over those questionnaires during that third appointment, but thought that he would do it in between that one and my latest appointment (yesterday), but he had NOT tallied the results, which he did during the appointment. That was BAD, but he had to do it because I needed to see those results and see if they would finally help with a diagnosis -- and they did!

My mom did score me about 65% for distractability, but for the rest it was fairly low, around or below the 50% mark. My friend J did score me high (85%) for that too, and fairly low for the other characteristics (hyperactivity and low self-esteem -- a bit higher for her than for my mom).

Prior to the visit I had also read more portions of a book the doctor had me buy: Sari Solden's Women with Attention Deficit Disorder. And I had written the doctor an email with my impressions and the parts I fully identified with -- that was helpful to him (I wish I had reminded him of tallying up the results of the questionnaires in that email, but that's part of his job, he should have been on top of it!). So during the visit the doctor copied this "Self-Screening" questionnaire from Solden's book and had me highlight my answers as well.

At the end of the visit he said that I was "95% diagnosed" and that since I don't want to go the medication route (for now at least), he would work on coaching and other treatment approaches for next time. In order to prepare them he asked me what are some of my challenges and goals (being better organized with paperwork for my teaching and at home, organize office, books, etc, be better at planning in the home front, menu planning, that kind of thing). Let's see what he will come up with to help me!

(written by my 12 year old son who was reading and finding typing errors in my post, I had started with "I'm kind of dis..."):
I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't get 100%. ;-)

hahaha! we're having fun over here, and I think I'm going to hire Kelvin as my editor! ;-)

Anyway, what I meant to say is that I'm kind of disappointed at how long it took and these inconsistencies in how I view myself and how people view me -- again, based on those questions!! which can be faulty, especially for women with ADD -- make me feel doubtful of a diagnosis that for me is/was very clear. :-(

OK, that's where my "labeling quest" took me so far. I'll keep you posted. Any comments/ thoughts would be appreciated, especially from Spanish Prof who was diagnosed years back along with her husband. Oh, and thanks to my sister-in-law who encouraged me to go ahead and seek help. We'll see how helpful it'll be!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kennedy Space Center Visit - Photo post!

Because I really love to have photo posts, but hardly ever get around to it!

When we were in Florida, instead of going to a theme or a water park we decided to go to Kennedy Space Center - KSC, and it was awesome! I don't know if you're into space exploration & NASA or not, but I've always enjoyed it.

It was the third visit to KSC for K & I (1993, 1997 were the previous ones) and it's changed considerably every time! The relatively new Atlantis exhibit is really awesome.

We also visited the Houston NASA back in 1999 with K's younger brothers and LOVED seeing them build the International Space Station -- back then Brazil was involved too! Now it's no longer one of the countries... :-( -- and train for assembling it in that HUGE pool. Apparently visitors no longer get to see the pool, good thing we saw it back then!!

OK, without further ado, the photos:
 I was not supposed to take this next photo!
 One of the launching stations they lease to SpaceX & others:
 Did you know that this building is so huge (the largest one floor structure in the world!) that if they don't control the humidity and temperature in there, clouds can form and it can RAIN inside!!!!
My boys, Kel's profile:
 The boy that likes to make faces!
 The control room for the first Apollo mission (if I'm not mistaken):
 The Saturn rocket (can't remember the number)
We had lunch and then went outside for some hot air! ;-)
At the back of the building, these weird ugly looking birds (vultures?) love to gather:
 On the way back we see the Atlantis exhibit building:
Before you get to "meet" Atlantis, you see lots of great photos such as this:
 Here it is!
 A scale model:
 Actual size of the rockets & fuel!
 We spent the rest of the time watching the IMAX movies and some of the other exhibits (some of which are pretty weak). Good thing it only rained while we were seeing the movies! I spite of the rain I wanted a photo of this depiction of the Space Station:
 We all enjoyed the visit!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Blue Prius!

Here's our new car, isn't it cute? I love it and I never want to drive another car ever, I want a Prius forever now! And hopefully the next one can be green, not blue!

Translating is Mind-Numblingly Boring... ;-)

warning: word repetition for emphasis below. Is that better or worse than ALL CAPS? I hate caps, I suppose it's because I can't stand anyone screaming with me. Not that I don't ever scream with my kids... Sigh...

Well, translating is very time consuming and very very hard and when the text is really really long and dry and technical, it's just boring! :-(

And I still have hundreds of pages to go and only one more full week of vacation without travel (two more with travel -- don't know how I'll translate then, since I much prefer to use the desktop).

I absolutely dread the thought of having to drag this project throughout the semester, but I think it's the only way I will finish and get paid!

I need to admit that this is still WAY better work than the online teaching for University of Phoenix associate Axia College (and it pays way better).

I just need to persevere (because the project is simply way too long) and try not to fall asleep at my chair as I try to consistently translate words such as "intended," "required," "rules, regulations, guidelines," "maintenance, repair," etc. and hundreds of technical terms!

P.S. I feel like eating a very decadent and unhealthy treat. Preferably something with lots of condensed milk and chocolate and maybe berries? Even if I had the ingredients to make such a concoction I just don't have the time!! AAAARGH! (I'm OK with using caps for interjections! Like BLAH! or WOW! ;-) )

Edited to add that my brain isn't working right! ;-) I originally titled this Mind-Mindbogglingly Boring (see the URL) by accident, changed it to Mind-Bogglingly later and now, 8:13 pm I realized that I actually meant to write/say "mind-numblingly" boring!! Sigh...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Going the Second Mile (even while being exploited)

I need to confess that, because I feel exploited in my situation as a lecturer (now "part-time") and an adjunct,  for the most part, I do the bare minimum. I don't spend a lot of time preparing classes and I don't spend a lot of time on campus apart from teaching, only my office hours (none for U#1 because I really don't have time, with the mega-commute and all). (the worst part, perhaps, is that I cannot bring/let myself to feel bad about that, what can I do after all?)

However, I'm going the second mile in dealing with enrollment at U#2 because it's done in a permission basis and we really really need freshmen-junior students (and not seniors) to take the intro language classes so we can build the program.

This year I'm recording every single permission request (a tedious process of copying and pasting the info from various boxes in the university registration system website) and also emailing every single student I grant permission to with a letter that explains that there's a long permission/waiting list and that they were lucky to be selected and also practically "beg" them to continue into the upper level classes.

And I'm doing this all mostly for the benefit of my colleague (and "boss") that will get to teach the upper level classes.

Sigh... It's tough.

Thankfully through all this week I basically forgot completely about the upsetting offer letter I received a week ago. I only thought of it on the morning we were driving to pick up the car and K & I had a conversation in which we were both very very bitter about this whole situation. What I really wish I could do (and K thought would be the right thing to do in these horrible circumstances) would be to wait until the day before classes to tell them that I am not accepting the job and that they can find someone else to teach those classes.

But I need the money. I need to help support my family. I don't have other options, it's the only "job" I've got!! Sigh...

And, of course, I love the students!! (wholeheartedly at U#1 and up to a certain point at U#2, there's a certain "situation" with them that I cannot really discuss for fear of revealing too much about the school and thus blowing my precarious cover -- if you're curious, you can always email me and I can "reveal all!") ;-)

So, yeah. I had to come blog this as therapy as I was working on the registration some because it's helpful.

P.S. I'm very busy translating, trying to catch up after all the time spent with car-shopping. I'm super excited about the car, BTW and hope to blog about it soon!