Monday, March 16, 2020

A Corona Virus Social Distancing Social Media Pet Peeve: The Smugness

OK, I don't have the courage to write this on Facebook, so I'm taking refuge in my blog! I've been writing updates there regularly because, given our unique circumstances*, our family was directly caught in the disorienting path of this pandemic before most people were.

There are two kinds of smugness I have found quite unbearable on social media (FB and Instagram) lately: the smugness of homeschooling parents (past or present) and that of academics who already work or have lots of experience with online teaching. Sigh... It's quite unconscious, I'm sure, especially the second kind when all they want to do is be helpful to other clueless academics, but it's still not fun to encounter either one. ETA: there is a third kind! The smugness of those who already work from home! :-(

I no longer have young(er) kids and the one year in which we "cyber-schooled" precisely ten years ago was AWFUL. My youngest is currently doing online school, but he works independently all the time and all I have to do is to proofread essays. In spite of that, I cringe reading some comments of folks who have lots of experience with this because it sounds like they're almost "bragging" that their lives haven't changed a bit! Sigh...

It's more complicated with the distance learning academics because it's good to have some support, but I still feel like I'm being "preached to" or something. I can't really explain too much, it's more a gut feeling. It's kind of funny because most of the academic friends I have on FB are all former bloggers, some of whom might even still be reading this blog -- most aren't! That's why I'm writing here.

ETA: This is not nice, but all of you introverts out there are also very very smug saying that this is your dream come true and stuff. Come on, do you just want to make extroverts feel mad at you and feel worse? ;-P

In any case, here is my short rant (edited twice now). I hope I get some comments!!

*My husband was spending his sabbatical in Denmark, came to the U.S. for two weeks for a conference which was promptly canceled (Ah! The blissful ignorance we experienced two weeks ago cannot be ever recaptured!). Then we traveled to Colorado (and I now regret that) to come home to news that I'd be teaching online and that Denmark was closing its borders and the whole country. My husband remains here. Now our son's boarding school in Brazil is being kind of cancelled and he's there with my elderly parents, so we are very apprehensive about that too!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

An Emma Overdose

Similarly to February 2011 and 2016, I was craving some Jane Austen this month, but it looks like I went completely overboard this year! ;-P

When I finally got to see Little Women in the theater last month I was thrilled to see the new Emma preview!
So, of course, I needed to prepare for this new film that seems to be perfection itself!

I re-read the novel over a couple of days two weeks ago. Then, I was determined to see the BBC/ WGBH series that I had completely missed back in 2009, I don't know why or how, considering I wrote several posts about PBS airing "The Complete Jane Austen"  back then (I lived blogged some of the adaptations). I must have missed it due to my crazy life cyber-schooling the boys last year. It features the delightful Romola Garai:

 I had to start a Hulu free trial to see it, and although I hated the stupid commercials, I went to bed 2 am last Monday night to see it. It didn't disappoint, and was quite delightful.

This afternoon, I saw Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma, and that was pretty ok too, but I still like the miniseries better. The film is a bit too rushed/ compressed and Mr. Frank Churchill (a very bad Ewan McGregor) is nothing, really. I must own that Mrs. Weston (Miss Taylor) is 100% better in the film, though.

I can't wait for the new Emma! March 5 cannot arrive soon enough! I will try to " force"  my husband and my son to see it with me! ;-)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

11 years ago TODAY, I posted a Lyle Mays song; Today, he died!

OK, this is a little bit too much of a crazy coincidence, but it's true! In fact, he died yesterday (2/10), but the news reached everyone only today.

How did I find out about my post? Someone (from Brazil!) posted a comment to that post on my blog, probably after finding the post when googling Lyle Mays, so I went to read the post (and the whole month of February 2009). I was reading when I decided to check the date of the post, and I was kind flabbergasted!

There are two musical deaths connected to my birthday (I'm sure there may be more, but I''m not about to Google that). Louis Armstrong died the day before I was born (so it was on the news on 7/7/1071). Then last year, the day before my birthday, João Gilberto, the most amazing interpreter and the "inventor" of bossa nova, died. :-( 

I don't really know Mays' works, apart from my favorite Zizi Possi song, but I sure will check him out now!

You can enjoy "Mirror of the Heart:"

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

In 2019...

(I need to do this, I've done it nearly every year! At least starting in 2010, I think)

Here's the 2019 preview post.

So, in 2019...

... the year started and began with all or some of us in the Caribbean! We'd never been there and now we went twice in one year! I visited Tulum in early January and then again in mid to late December.

... we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary several times! I bought 3 different cakes for photo ops. I haven't yet shared photos of that on social media (only on our Holiday card

... I went to Brazil TWICE!! The second time wasn't that exciting, but the first trip in July was short and really great.

... my oldest son got his driver's license (best thing ever!) and had his first girlfriend, but she ended the relationship 5 months in to my great disappointment and his heartbreak. Sigh...

... I taught my dream class (a language class about music from my country) using the 5K grant I'd received, and we all had an absolute blast, it was awesome!
... We went on our first cruise, spent a wonderful week in FL again with my husband's family, and K & I went on a lovely week-long all inclusive resort (first time!) trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico, to celebrate our anniversary!

...I applied for "promotion" in my job even though I'm not tenure-track. I wasn't at all nervous or apprehensive about that, but my colleague is. Especially because he thinks s/he spent way too much effort on this and why can't they make a decision already. Yes, that is the reason. Very like this person.

As for what I wrote in the preview post, my ADHD continues to be super bothersome and I should find a therapist, but I'm hanging in there.

New Year, (Temporarily) Divided Family

So much to catch up on, so little motivation to blog. Anyone still out there? (apart from Jenny in New England, hi Jenny!)

This will be a "different" Spring semester. The temporary above is not really temporary according to my husband because our oldest, who turns 18 this March -- HE WAS TWO WHEN I STARTED THIS BLOG! Has it really been 16 years? -- is going to college in August. Yeah... and I do say that completely matter-of-factly (auto-correct says it's matter-of-factually -- NO, no way!!) ;-P

The other day someone wrote a hilarious comment in one of Dooce's tweets, they said something like "I'm from the 2000s when people still blogged" or I'm " 2000s style blogs person." Me too, I had to respond, me too!

In case, temporary separations aside, the fact is that our youngest son (15.5) is in Brazil until late May, my husband is in Denmark (enjoying the second part of his sabbatical doing research abroad), while our oldest son, the cats, and I, stay home.

Yeah... I have lots more to say about all this, but it can't be now. I need to go to bed to teach tomorrow. The brutal mega-commute of 160 miles round-trip hasn't gotten any better.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Better, Much Better

Given the title and topic of the previous post, this is the only title I can think of as fitting for this post.

Sigh... I miss blogging. And I miss my former blogger friend (who still does it once in a while like me and who also still comments here!! Love you J!) who we FINALLY got to see again yesterday after she and her hubby moved a year and a half ago.

Just looking at the possible labels I can put on this post makes me painfully aware of the many (countless really) things I could be writing about. Nowadays it's all about the visual on Instagram and elsewhere, and the words get reduced to what's sometimes called "micro-blogging." :-(

I love visual, and I'm on Instagram (under my actual name), but I also love(d) to post photos here. Words, and images, have been integral to old style, hard core blogging. Some of my labels reflect that, and my own personality and style: Colorful! (me!), Rainbow! (one of my favorite things), Children's Party Decorations, Home Decor, Home/ Home Improvement. And I still, routinely, take photos that are meant to be shared in a blog or even Instagram, but I don't ever post here anymore.

In spite of that, going back to the negative feelings in the previous post, I am doing much, much better! And I don't want this year to be characterized by the losses and misplacement of things caused by my Neuro Divergence ;-) AKA my ADHD. Instead, I want to remember it as the year in which we celebrated our 25th anniversary over the course of six months, starting in Brazil with my maternal family, then with friends, with K's family in Florida, and, finally, with a lovely trip that is upcoming in December (Riviera Maya).

I may even buy a cake and have a cake table photo-op with our friends the night before we leave on our trip. I don't know how that can/could work because there boys have music concerts on that night, but it would be cool to do that. Maybe I can pull it off. Because I am crazy like that. We'll miss you, J, but you DEFINITELY need to be at my 50th birthday par-tay!!! Rainbow themed, OF COURSE!!!

OK, I've satisfied my craving for posting in the blog, and I think I've satisfactorily demonstrated that I am in much better spirits. Next time I'll have to come and share what crazy things are in store for next year!!!

Drum roll! ;-)

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The Year of Losing, Forgetting, and Breaking Things

Sigh...

All I do is sigh... it must be aggravating to people around me. Good thing I haven't been blogging then, maybe. About that, I was mystified to still be able to use the old, never updated, Blogger app on my old iPhone 5 an actually post a few words. The major downfall for blogging for me (and probably everyone else who no longer does it) was finally getting a smart phone in 2012. The Blogger app helped a bit, but when it wasn't updated anymore, it was another huge blow.

Occasionally, I still "write blog posts in my head," but since I spend way less time on computers (mostly because I hate laptops and I have one for work) and too much time on the stupid phone, I have all but abandoned this cherished space. I feel very sad about it... and yet, I don't do much to fix it.

One thing I will have to write about is the impending beginning of being an empty-nester about 9 or 10 months from now when my oldest leaves for college. I may, or may not blog about how I am sad that he and his girlfriend broke up (precisely because of HER moving away and going to college).

Today, however, I just want to write about how this year my ADHD is just "killing me" with all the stuff I've lost (and mostly found), and forgotten, and broken. It's becoming extremely upsetting, not to mention also costly!!

I admit it's an annoying topic, but it's what's defined 2019 (I was going to write 1999!!!) so far. And I don't know WHAT to do about it!! I really don't. Taking medication (much like consuming any caffeine) is problematic for me. I can't sleep well, I don't feel hungry and just don't eat, so it's not a good option. Other things (such as Bullet Journaling) don't help much either. In any case, not to bore you with the details, the most aggravating things that happened were:
  • I "lost" (in truth misplaced) my pretty journal (Katie Daisy's 2018-19 planner) inside my house for about three months. I even bought a new one (a good thing because I can now use the pictures for framing or decorating other things). It was with some books under the piano in my living room.(spent like $9)
  • I brought this brand new book (if you don't want to click, Ruth Chou Simon's Beholding & Becoming) and took it to our church camp out to show to a friend. Then I forgot it on the blanket where my friend was sitting, got busy with other things and only remembered it at the end of the day -- but there had been a sudden rain and the owner of the blanket (not my friend, someone else) had tossed the book into a random camping chair. Not only was the book gone for two weeks, but it had gotten wet and dried all bent. I had already bought another book when it was found as well... (spent $15)
  • Two days after also misplacing the book, I was driving to work while wearing my beloved amazonite gem necklace (made with locally mined and polished stone), but it was on wrong, so at a red light, I removed it, intending to put it back on the right way at another traffic light, but there wasn't enough time. So when I parked the car, I was in a hurry to go get the bus, I just got off the car, forgetting the necklace was on my lap. In between classes, when I went to the bathroom, I noticed I didn't have the necklace and remembered with alarm I probably had let it fall on the ground next to the car. Of course, when I walked back to my car in a hurry again (I was driving to Washington D.C. to meet up with a friend from Brazil!) I completely forgot to look for the necklace. So... two days later, when I parked in the morning, there it was, broken down by the cars which drove over it. :-( It took me two weeks to buy another one and I'm happy with the new one, but I'm $25.00 poorer. 
[maybe insert depressing photo of the broken necklace on the road]
  • Just last week on Tuesday I forgot a pencil case at church, but thankfully my husband found it for me yesterday.
I wonder what I'll lose next. I have also misplaced and found a bunch of pens, but I'm getting mad at how I keep misplacing or forgetting things. I'm sure it is also related to my age. In two years I'll be fifty. Sigh...

Yeah, so, at least I finished a whole blog post, even though it's mostly negative, like some of the previous posts I wrote this year. Only 11 posts so far, I'm sure it's a new kind of depressing record for this little blog of mine.

OK, hopefully I'll blog again soon. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

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. ;-)