Thursday, May 09, 2019

Things I Did NOT Do This Semester

I've been writing this post in my head for weeks now. I already wrote that this semester was hard, but now I'd just like to register some concrete markers of how it was hard. Some of these things are kind of silly, but they still demonstrate how challenging it was.

This semester I did not...

... go to yoga or any exercise class. Not even once. :-( And I didn't exercise on my own at all either, although I intended to.

... get an ID that gives me access to my husband's university's (U#1) exercise facilities -- including free exercise classes. I didn't do that even though we found out pretty early on in the semester that I was eligible for one -- something we both wish we'd known for the past THREE YEARS since I quit working at U#1.  Better late than never, though, right?

... wax my legs even after the weather got warm (this means I had to wear either maxi skirts, leggings or fancy patterned pantyhose after it was too warm for pants and sweaters -- it really severely limited my wardrobe options).   (I only did it last Sunday when K and I went with our younger son to U#1's pool and exercise facilities).

... apply nail polish to my fingernails at all! I really, really wanted to, because it's fun and makes me happy, but I was always stressed out or in a hurry in the mornings before going to work (my preferred time to do it). I did do my toenails quickly on the Saturday previous to the last day of classes. That means I also avoided wearing open toe sandals in warm days as well.

The I taught my last class, though, I treated myself to an IMAX movie (Endgame!), first film I ever saw by myself in the theater. I even ordered popcorn (it's crazy to pay the price of an entree for popcorn!). And I posted to Instagram & Facebook that I did it! ;-P

If I remember any other things that I did not do, I'll edit the post. Of course I did countless other things, many of which were quite intense (such as driving for over six hours to take my students to and from shows, twice), cooking for my students and hosting guest speakers (three times each), organizing and hosting a music concert (once!). And some of which were fun (taking students to eat out! Enjoying the music concert immensely!). It was quite crazy and stressful, but also fun. I hope my "haven't done" list is shorter next semester!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Back in the Home Renovation Bandwagon

WOW, I'm writing a new post only a day later! ;-) This feels so 2006 or 07 or 08!  ;-D

I think it's a healthy habit and now that I've been journaling on paper almost daily for a month or two, I feel like blogging again.

10 and 11 years ago we were deep in the throes of endless home renovations because in 2007 we bought our "Old New House" (the link displays all posts with that tag) which needed countless renovation projects. My favorite post is this "before and after" (lots of photos!) from April 2, 2009, ten years, a month and 6 days ago.

In our past 8 years in this house (we bought it in April 2011!) we have done some small renovations, such as painting several walls (dining room, bathroom), putting new knobs in the kitchen cabinets, getting all new appliances for the kitchen (last year), and changing broken living room and bedroom blinds. I didn't blog about any of this because I was having a hard time posting photos to the blog and then I pretty much stopped blogging.

Last December, when the water softener burst and we had water damage in the first floor of our split foyer house (garage under half the house, most living spaces upstairs), we knew we would be doing some serious renovations downstairs and we started them a couple months ago!

First we painted the family room and yesterday and today we started putting in new vinyl plank floors! I'll post some photos tomorrow so I can post this before midnight!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

A New Kind of (Awareness of) "In-Between-ness"

Five days ago, Laura (at 11D) wrote a post with a great title, "White Collar Blues," that compared adjuncts to freelance writers and lots of people joined in the discussion about these "white collar jobs" that lead to a life of poverty.

I wrote a long comment last Friday, but WordPress "ate" it, so I wrote a shorter one yesterday. What I wanted to add to the discussion was that my current job is a third, in-between position between tenure-track faculty and mere adjuncts (the "desperate adjuncts" about whom Laura said there's a story in the news every week). My position is pretty much permanent, but it doesn't have most "perks" of a tenure-track position.

I agree that it's not a really "bad" situation to be in, but it's still demoralizing, especially for those of us whose primary work is to teach, I imagine that for researchers it's may not feel that bad. They have a permanent research job, still have funding (I guess grant money) to go to conferences, they publish, present, etc. They just don't have to teach and don't have to go up for tenure. We, on the other hand, in spite of our training, are only expected to teach, and do a little bit of service (10% in my case). I personally feel demoralized because I was trained to do research and I would really love to do it, but I have no support whatsoever -- and, of course, with ADHD, I can't muster all it takes to get it done on my own, without being required/expected to do it. (in addition to the lack of support).

Then I looked at my blog's mast description and, to my horror, what 15 years ago when I started blogging was the "in-betweeness" of being an immigrant and of having an academic and a home life, has now transformed itself into my work situation!! I'm stuck in this "in-between" space for life! (unless I quit, which is very unlikely)

I often feel despondent about this, almost daily, but I'm STUCK!! I need to help support my family and if I can have a stable, if partially unfulfilling, job that pays a reasonable amount (more than 50k), that helps. You may or may not remember, but this is the very first full time I've had in my life, and I got it when I was 41. Sigh...

Look at the (very unfiltered) note I wrote on my phone one of these days (1/18/19):
There is hardly a day in which I don't leave work at [the university] despondent. I love my colleagues, but they teach a different language. They also have meetings and other activities which I don't have, so I feel that I don't belong, and feel horribly isolated most of the time. The person who is supposed to be my colleague [the tenure track in charge of the program -- just awarded tenure, BTW] never meets with me, only if s/he absolutely has to. My mega-commute is almost unbearable and makes for grumpy mornings and evenings. I don't feel valued and well regarded by the super-hierarchical department that treats tenured and tenure track faculty as the only deserving members.
Sigh... I feel stuck for life in this in-between space! There is no way out!

And... just like that, it feels easy to blog again. This is what most of the writing in this space has been for the past 15 years, the fruit of despair or stress or a profound need to work through stuff... it's very therapeutic, really! And, in spite of the utter lack of readers, even if just for myself (because it helps me process things), I will probably blog more often for a while.

I guess I've reached "the end of my rope" right now and my last resort is blogging. I hope it helps somehow!

Sunday, May 05, 2019

A Hard Semester (Yet Incredibly Exciting)

I began this post before April was over (I wanted to write at least once in April), :-( but of course I didn't write anything but the title.

I am still grading, and we REALLY needed to use this coming week to put new floors on our downstairs that suffered flooding from a burst water-softener, but I don't know how that's going to go.

I think it's partly hormonal, but I've never finished a semester with so little energy. I sleep and I don't wake up refreshed, I'm just tired.

I had three preps this semester, two of which were brand new classes. It was exciting, but exhausting. I wish I had the energy to write more about this. One of the classes was about music and that was really cool! It's a class I had wanted to teach for over 10 years, actually, make it 20. I hope I'll get to do it again.

Enrollment in my classes is down, though, and that makes me upset and depressed. It's hard to carry the whole program pretty much in my back -- only students who actually like me keep going, since I'm the only person to teach this subject. Sigh...

And I'm tired of doing it over and over and over again. Of course students can tell that. And it reflects on enrollment. I need a minimum of 8 students on the upper level class next semester and I have only 3 so far. :-(

OK, I have to go back to grading. I'm sorry this is such a depressing post. Not that anyone is reading, but still, I wish I could be more upbeat. It feels very unlike me to be like this. Hoping that soon I'll feel better.

P.S. three weeks ago I went and lost my pretty Katie Daisy Planner which I used as a diary. I suspect it may be inside the house somewhere because I have a vague memory of taking it from the living room to my bedroom when we had guests coming over, but I can't find it anywhere. So sad!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

It's Official (and an Independent Driver)

The two things I mentioned in the last bullet point in my last post (about 2019) already happened. Our son got his driver's license and now the boys go to school by themselves in the morning (but my husband still gets up to feed them breakfast) and, two days ago, he and his "prospective" girlfriend talked to her dad (after talking for several hours about their relationship) and made their relationship "official."

They are very young, just 17, but they are pretty mature and have been talking to each other a lot for over a year. She is 8 months older and will turn 18 in July. She is also a senior who is going to college across the country (Washington State) in the Fall, so I don't know what the future holds for them, but having cell phone and more affordable air travel makes things easier for the new generation of kids.

My boys and I flew to Seattle last week to visit their family (they lived here until last July and we've known them since 2012) and we all had a great time. Her two younger brothers are 2 months older and 15 months younger than my younger son and they played soccer together for years.We all get along well. Her mom is also an immigrant (from Bulgaria) and her dad's parents are from Puerto Rico. I like that.

OK, I have to do some work before teaching tomorrow, but I wanted to put this out there. ;-)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

In 2019...

... we went (already!) on our very first cruise and I realized my lifelong dream of going to the Caribbean (I never wanted to do is in a cruise, though, and it was ok. I need to go back for sure.).

... we finally go back to visit Brasil after 2.5 years.

... we spend another week in Destin, FL with my husband's family

Sigh... I really wish we could afford to go every year. In any case, sometimes it's not an affordability problem as much as it is one of situational factors -- such as my parents coming for the graduation of one of the boys which makes it unnecessary to travel to go see them. They did come in 2016 for Kelvin's 8th grade graduation and we went there, but that was because of my husband's grandma's 90th birthday party/family reunion.

... I get to teach the class I've dreamed about for many years. I'm doing it now and it's been great so far (only two weeks)! 3 preps, two brand new classes, but hopefully more fun than work/stress.

... our oldest son will (finally) get his driver's license  at 17 years old (he could have had it as early as last July) and I think this will make our lives easier. When he leaves for college in 2020 his brother may still not have it, though, and this could be problematic. :-( I have enjoyed having a driver since September 2017. It's also great to be able to talk to him for a change. I won't make this a separate item, but in a month and a half the same son will have an "official" and pretty serious girlfriend. We are visiting her family in March and I think he will talk to her (Latino, old-school) dad in order to make it an official relationship. For now, they're just special "friends." ;-)

I don't know that else will happen, but I hope I will feel better about my work and about myself professionally. It's not easy. It's a constant struggle and a "low grade pain" all the time. It shouldn't be, I just need to let go and stop feeling so despondent. I need  to get a good therapist.

I also need to work more to get my ADHD under better control, so I can be more productive. Sigh... yeah, lots of complicated feelings and things, always. Sigh...

I hope it'll be a good year.

Monday, January 21, 2019

In 2018...

... so many things happened! It was a wonderful year with a few dreadful things thrown in for good measure. Maybe I'll get those out of the way first.

... two literal nightmares of mine came true: 1) being horribly bitten by bedbugs in our Florida vacation with my husband's family (I took tons of photos to document the numerous bites to legs, arms, and, most of all, back of neck, our rental house was free in the end, 6K back to my MIL. My husband thinks my suffering was worth it, oh well...). 2) having a small flood in our house with water pouring and going everywhere right before more guests arrived (we already had my parents, niece and nephew here).

Other than these two unfortunate things (and the fact that my BIL had to lose his leg to cancer, which is not my story to tell, but I wanted to mention here), it was a great, VERY eventful year.

... I went on two trips with my youngest son in the Spring semester, to Florida for his robotics tournament, and to the Outer Banks for his class trip.

... our youngest graduated from 8th grade and my parents were here to celebrate with us (soon after they flew to Indonesia to visit my brother and his family!).

... we went on a splendid cross-country trip to the Canadian Rockies to celebrate my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. (This was a bucket list destination for me. It was AMAZING! I have photos on Facebook if you want to be FB friends. Hi Karen!

... our youngest son started high school and the oldest is in the sweet stages of beginning his first significant relationship. ;-) 

... my brother and his family came to visit for the very first time! He and his wife had visited us back in June 2006 before moving to China and he had visited quickly back in 2010, but he had promised he'd finally visit me after he had children, and he fulfilled the promise. His kids are 7 and 5.

... we had Christmas at our house with my whole family, plus my sister-in-law's parents and her brother and family. We had a wonderful time, in spite of the house having been messed up by the flood.

2018 was a great year! My 3 year contract was renewed until 2022 and I was awarded a 5K grant to teach my dream class this semester (about music). I don't think 2019 can top any of that, but I'm sure it'll be good too. More about it in another post.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Cruise was (Surprisingly) Nice!

Several people had told me that I'd love the cruise, but I had a hard time believing them.

I really liked it! I mean, it is "hazardous" in the sense that you can eat way too much and way too much junk, but it is a nice vacation. It does cost extra do do sightseeing and to go to the beach, but it's not too much.

The Caribbean is lovely and I want to go back to various places with more time (such as the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico and it's surrounding areas) and the Bahamas. I also want to go to Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, and other islands. And, if my MIL takes us again, I'll go on another Caribbean cruise (Easten  this time, since we had a Western Caribeean tour).

One problem in a cruise is that there is so much to do that you hardly see the people you're there with. You need to plan to do things with them in order to keep track of them. Another problem is that if you want to make the most of your cruise experience and go on multiple shows (they had Broadway's Mamma Mia!, a Beatles revival, a diving show, and smaller events such as stand-up comedy, jazz concerts, etc.) plus go on shore excursions, you won't really relax and rest too much. I mean, it is relaxing to go to dinner and go to a show, but then you need to wake up early to enjoy the place where you're stopping the next day. Not to mention that shore excursions are VERY rushed due to the fact that you need to get back to the ship by 4 or 5:30 pm.

Yeah... a bunch of negative sides, but some positive ones too. I think and overanalyze things too much, so it's hard not to have complicated mixed feelings about everything. Sigh...

Before it's too late, I'd love to write a couple of posts about last year and this year that is starting as I generally do every year. I hope I can pull that off in the next few days.

If only I didn't have to prepare and teach my classes! The first week ends tomorrow and I'm glad we have a holiday on Monday!

Friday, January 04, 2019

Leaving on a Jet Plane to Catch a Huge Boat

Quick note to say that that in spite of the fact that next week is the first full week back at school for our sons and the first week at U#1 for my husband we're leaving for Florida to go on a Caribbean Cruise! I never wanted to go on one, but my mother-in-law insisted that we go, so we're going. My brother & family and my parents are also going, so it'll be a full family reunion for us -- I mean, we'll continue together for another week.

Two of my husband's three brothers are also going with their family, and that will be nice. My mother-in-law is also taking a group of 48 other people from Brazil. I have to finish packing or I'd write more. I'll let you know how it went!

Nothing else has been done regarding the water damage, we'll see about that when we get back.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Unbelievably Crazy Pre-Christmas & Houseguests' Arrival Disaster

It's hard to believe it happened, but it did. In fact, there aren't even adequate labels for this post! :-O

On December 16, Sunday night, when my parents were already here, taking care of my young niece and nephew (5 and 7 years old) and my sister-in-law was returning the next morning from a weekend in NYC and bringing her mom and dad from the airport, our water softener BURST!! Spilling water and flooding the stairwell, hallway, laundry space, bathroom, (carpeted) family room, and almost the guest bedroom on our house's first floor.

It was 10:20 pm and my oldest son, my parents and the kids were already sleeping. Our youngest son went to brush his teeth and there was no water, so he told us, and when my husband opened the stairwell door, water came rushing out. It was the stuff nightmares are made of, except in real life! :-( My husband had to literally shake my poor dad awake -- he was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the family room and his covers and mattress were getting wet. there were a couple of inches of water on the floor when my husband turned off the water main.

I sent a frantic text to a group of 10 friends and in about 20 minutes, the one who lives closest, had brought us a huge shop vac so we could finally begin to remove the water that until then was being "mopped" by all the towels in the house (some of which my husband and dad were trying to wring by hand to try to stop the water which actually seeped through the stairwell wall into the adjacent bathroom).

We were up vacuuming and cleaning up until close to 1 am. My parents' luggage and Christmas gifts were inside the stairwell -- the most damaged gifts were mine and my husband's, which were at the bottom of the bag. The suitcases weren't damaged because my husband was very quick to remove them. We were without water overnight, which wasn't fun. My husband went to a 24h Walmart at 2 am to buy some galons of water.

Next morning we had the plumber come first thing in the morning and as soon as the water was restored, my sister-in-law arrived from the airport with her parents! It was pretty chaotic because the plans were to have all of them (my parents, my sister-in-law and her kids, and her parents) stay with us, but with the family room and guest bedrooms out of commission, that would be hard! We called the insurance company, and then a local home restoration service, but they only came after 7 pm to get started on their work. They ripped off some of the vinyl flooring in the hallway and stairwell, cut off some drywall, and brought in a huge dehumidifier and four large fans. Those were on from Monday night through Thursday morning and were very noisy!

On that first evening my sister-in-law stayed at our youngest son's bedroom, her parents in the oldest, the boys slept in our bedroom and my parents slept in front of the Xmas tree in the living room (in spite of the noise coming from the first floor). The subsequent nights, a neighbor offered two spare bedrooms in her house for my parents and my SIL's parents to sleep and that was incredibly helpful!

We did go to Pennsylvania for a couple of days and when we came back my brother arrived from Indonesia where they live.

I will continue later because I need to go to sleep now. But it's been CRAZY here in the past two weeks!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

November is almost over and I didn't blog once (till now)! :-(

I blame it all on being forced to use a laptop, something that I don't like much at all, since my oldest takes over the desktop computer for hours for Minecraft or gaming during his free time -- which coincide with the hours I would be working at home in the evening. I am thoroughly enjoying the one brave friend who is still blogging daily in November and making me a tiny bit wistful for the good old days of NaBloPoMo. Oh dear... I have FIVE labels for that in my sidebar, from 2007-2011, I didn't know I had quit it in 2011, how depressing! But I did it a few more times all 30 days from 2013-15, I stopped in 2016. HA! That coincides with the time when we moved the desktop from the office upstairs (which became Kelvin's bedroom) to the family room on the first floor.

Anyway... yeah. These days I journal on two separate journals, but I haven't yet given BuJo a try. I'm considering. I had no idea the author had created it to help him manage his ADHD -- this is precisely what I need! Help managing mine. Sigh...

I went to check BuJo and some articles about it and got distracted from writing this post! ;-P And of course my son will soon come to use the computer (I was writing this earlier, late morning, by now I've done three loads of laundry, most of which I am attempting to line dry since the weather is nice, nearly 60 degrees.

What else has been going on? We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my brother-in-law's family coming and spending two days and a half with us. We spent 10 Thanksgivings with them from 2002-2013 before they moved to Egypt in 2014. They moved back to the U.S. last year and since then my BIL had to have his leg amputated to get rid of an extremely rare recurring cancer. He is doing incredibly well and we hope and pray that his cancer will be permanently gone now.

I'm not looking forward to the last two weeks of the semester, this break is always a little unsettling... but I will soldier on, and grade a lot and everything will end well as it always does.

Hopefully I'll blog again a few more times before the year is out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sad for Brasil :-(

Brazil elected a new president today and it was a really difficult choice, people were between "a rock and a hard place" with the two most hated candidates running against each another in the second round, but in min, and a lot of other people's opinion, one of the options was way worse than the other.

The former president, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached two years ago and the former two term president Lula (Luís Inácio "Lula" da Silva) is currently in jail. Their party, PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores (the Worker's Party) has been caught in a serious corruption scheme and a brave judge in my home state of Paraná, Sérgio Moro, has been prosecuting, charging, and putting the guilty ones in jail. If you want to understand the background of the investigation, you can watch the Netflix series The Mechanism. It's so depressing I haven't been able to watch it all, just the first episode. The runner up to today's second round of the election was Fernando Haddad who was appointed the candidate for PT after Lula was unable to run and he lost mostly because of the people's hatred for the party.

The winner, sigh... I don't like to say his name, the same way I avoid saying #NotMyPresident's name like the plague, so I'll just link to him. This man  (#AlsoNotMyPresident) is a former Army Captain and he was a congressman for 27 years and did basically NOTHING. He is pretty outspoken like the U.S. president and has made many outrageous statement which were racist, homophobic, misogynistic, really bad stuff. He's also in favor of allowing people to have guns (guns aren't freely allowed in Brazil), torture, the death penalty, the police having free agency to kill criminals (which it kind of already does in Brasil), and many other controversial things. He says he is a Christian and has the support of most evangelicals. Poor people and minorities, particularly Black and gay Brazilians are really upset by all the hatred unleashed by his candidacy. Some of his statements show fascist tendencies too. Hatred was running so high that he was actually stabbed with a knife when campaigning back in September.

He won partly because of the rampant fake news campaigns in social media. Brazilians are apparently the most gullible people in the planet, who most believe in fake news. I cannot find any articles about this in English, but there were a few in Portuguese. The main reason he won, though, is everyone's desire to get rid of the worker's party. Many people didn't like him, but voted against the other party. Others actually literally say that he's "a myth" and that he's going to save Brazil from PT and make it succeed.

This election destroyed lifelong friendships and pitted family members against each other.This whole thing is just too sad and upsetting. I just pray that the situation gets better in Brazil. :-(