Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tonight I saw the first firefly

Tonight I saw the first firefly this almost summer
The moon already shining
My vision still clouded from my dilated pupils

If I were a poet, this would be a real poem
I think, instead, of how next week,
I'll see twilight with new eyes

And I hope there will be more fireflies, not just one.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eight Years Old

Today my youngest turned eight and, embarrassingly, I didn't remember it was his birthday until 11 am! His party was back on Mother's Day and we've been celebrating ever since, so we didn't do anything special today, apart from the small gift (a 5 in 1 Berenstain Bears book) that I had saved for today. Yesterday the boys spent part of Linton's birthday money at Target buying Legos and a Wii game.
I'm so glad to have Linton in my life! I hope to write more about him and his birthday party later, but I wanted to mark the day with a post!

From Sun and Wind to Bed, Bathroom and Drawers

It's much more work than doing regular laundry (with a dryer), but I just love the feeling of bringing armfuls of clean, sweet-smelling line-dried laundry into the house.

Especially the sheets, that go from bed to washer, then to sun and wind and back to the bed. Ah....

Just a small note registering the joys of summer line-drying! ;)

(maybe I'll add a photo later)

The Longest Hosting Long-Weekend Ever!

Between Thursday 5/24 and Monday 5/28 twenty-six people had meals at our house and seven people slept over. The most incredible thing is that with some help from our guests and... I don't know... some magical organizational and cleaning force or something :), our kitchen remained clean nearly the whole time! Here is how it went down:
  • Thursday 3/24, 8:30 p.m. - We served dinner to a couple from Brazil who were visiting their daughter in the nearby boarding academy (I had the main dish ready -- pinto beans for a Mexican themed meal -- but we didn't know they were coming for sure until 7:30 pm). We talked until nearly midnight. Earlier in the day friends who had never visited called to ask whether they could come to spend the weekend and we said they could come.
  • Friday 3/25: I drove three hours round-trip for my LASIK surgeon visit, stopping at the grocery store on my way back. After cleaning the house with K and preparing the guest bedroom downstairs, at 8 pm I went to the "consecration" ceremony of the academy's graduation where I met our guests (a couple & their daughter, the son stayed in the dorm with his graduating friends). They got home close to 11 pm and we ate a light meal and chatted until close to midnight because we hadn't seen them in two years and this was their first visit to our house since they moved to the U.S. many years ago (we visited them multiple times).
  • Saturday 3/26: K's birthday -- we gave him his presents in the morning, then got ready to leave.
    • 9 am: we drove 1h30 mostly on the highway, but then up the mountains to Brazilian churches' camp meeting. Kelvin felt sick in the mountain roads and vomited his whole breakfast out the car window. Luckily only the outside of the car got dirty. We had a nice day there, I brought a picnic lunch, but forgot a change of clothes or swim-clothes for the boys and they were mad that they couldn't play in the creek or pond.
    • 3 pm: we went to hike part-way up Crabtree Falls (supposedly the highest falls on the East coast), but couldn't make it all the way to the top because of the wedding in the evening.
    • 4:50 pm: began our drive back home, afraid that we'd be late for the wedding.
    • 7:05 pm: we arrived at the wedding, just to find out that we were absurdly over-dressed and that folks in this rural VA area don't dress up for weddings -- especially outdoor ceremonies (most importantly, their kids don't dress up, so ours were really upset at us AGAIN!).
    • 9:40 pm: we get back home from the wedding and K has to eat because he barely ate anything in the reception (there were plenty of refreshments: fruit, vegetables, sandwiches), but he didn't eat much.
    • 12:20 pm: we were already in bed when we heard the front door open and our friends come in. 
  • Sunday 3/27: After a good breakfast with our friends, I left to go to the commencement ceremony, the guests soon followed and K & the boys only got there close to the end at noon.
    • 1:30 pm: our guests came home (this time with the son), with the intention of leaving right away, but we quickly prepared lunch for them with the leftover food from Thursday and some cans of beans and corn and we all ate lunch.
    • 4 pm: they left.
    • 5 pm: I got a call from our friends from Philadelphia saying they'd be arriving at 12:30 am. They had contacted us earlier to stop by over the weekend, but had said in their latest email from the week before that the drive from Atlanta, GA to our house was too long. Well, it looked like they'd changed their minds! 
    • 8 pm: We did some cleaning and I changed the sheets in the guest bedroom. I started cooking beans (black this time, since we'd eaten pintos on Thursday and earlier that day) for our visitors the next day and two kinds of a tapioca dessert (with grape juice and passion fruit juice) that our Brazilian friends love.
    • 11:30 pm: friends call to say they're running late and should arrive by 1 am.
    • 1:10 am: friends arrive and we talk for about half an hour before heading to bed.
  • Monday 3/28: my boys got up before 8 am, eager to play with their friend, who was sleeping downstairs. I groggily got up and asked not to make any noise and play quietly until the guests were up.
    • 9:20 am: Guests got up, boys started playing with Legos and we had breakfast.
    • 11 am: We all drove in their car to see the Academy and walked around in the buildings. They even got to see the Elementary School, since it was open because the custodian was in there cleaning.
    • 11:40 am: we arrived back home and our friends left for Philadelphia. 
    • 12:20 pm I called one of our Brazilian friends who said that they'd be arriving in one hour. 
    • 1:30 pm: The first group of Brazilian friends arrived. One couple, their two toddlers, four young women and one young man.
    • 2 pm: we all had lunch -- using all disposable plates and utensils, of course!!
    • 3 pm: They left and a few minutes later, the second group of Brazilian friends arrived (two families of four whose kids are just a year or two older than ours). 
    • 3:40 pm: after we chatter for a while and the kids played downstairs, we served them lunch (after I made a bit more rice). 
    • 5 pm: they left for Philly and New Jersey. K went to take a nap
    • 6:40 pm: K woke up from his nap and I called some friends so we could meet up in town and have dinner to celebrate K's birthday.
    • 7:40 we picked up our friend J and on the way I called our dear friends who live in town -- they are a young couple who is moving away :( -- so we could meet up in about 20-25 minutes.
    • 8:10 pm we parked in downtown and went to wait for our friends in the designated spot (they don't have a cell phone!), but they didn't arrive until 8:45!
    • 9:10 pm: we went into this delicious tea and sandwich restaurant to eat and it was great!! It was a lovely day to end the weekend, but we were yawning (and the boys sleeping) all the way back home.
  • The End!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scheduled... or Kissing Contact Lenses Goodbye (after 22 years!)

... if you've been wondering about last Friday, you might be surprised, or maybe not, but I scheduled my LASIK surgery for next week on Thursday.

I can't say I'm not a tiny bit apprehensive, but it's not like this was an impulsive, last minute decision on our part. I do feel somewhat bad for having bought a new pair of eyeglasses, but insurance covered most of it and in the end it cost about $100. Moreover -- that was my reasoning before, in case I were to have surgery -- I needed a good pair of glasses to be able to wear them non-stop before the surgery and I'm happy with them.

As for deciding, ever since my eyes were affected by really bad "giant papillary conjunctivitis" back in 2010, I knew that the only way out of wearing glasses for the rest of my life was eye-surgery and I discussed that here in the blog a few months ago.

When I learned about the cost after my examination by the doctor, I thought that that the surgery isn't that expensive, at a bit more than 3K, and K agreed when I called him. We mulled over it during the long weekend and decided to go ahead. We are going to pay in 24 months without interest through a special credit card from -- coincidentally -- the same bank that's our mortgage lender.

It's hard to believe that I will never again put a contact lens in my eyes... after 22 years and countless contact-lens themed nightmares... every kind of nightmare you can imagine. Giant soft lenses that I had to wash because they were full of sandy dust, ripping contacts, lost and missing contacts, you name it. It was a recurring nightmare (with multiply variations) that I had to put up with.

I hope that I don't get to have nightmares about LASIK! My friend who did it last July with the same doctor says she has them once in a while. (She recommended our current optometrists and this doctor -- he's the guy who did surgery on Tiger Woods -- my friend knows that because her prescription was really complicated, very similar to Woods' and the doctor commented on that).

My biggest concern is the requirement of not touching my eyes AT ALL for one whole week after surgery, but I'm practicing not doing that now, so hopefully I'll be "trained" by the time the surgery is here. I also want to buy some nice sunglasses and wear them often in the week after the surgery in order to protect my eyes.


I'll keep you posted, OK?

P.S. and I'll try to come back later and tell you about the busiest weekend EVER! ;)

Friday, May 25, 2012

LASIK Visit & Test Drive

Today I have an appointment to verify whether I'm an eligible candidate to have LASIK surgery. I'm glad that they don't charge for this visit as I don't know if I'm going to be able to have the procedure done anytime soon. I just want to know whether I'll be able to do it someday and take advantage of the fact that I haven't been wearing contacts for a month (one can't wear them for at least two weeks before this evaluation).

This short trip will also serve as a "test drive" for my long commute if I were to get the job I applied for. The commute is the only undesirable thing about this job, but it is in fact a "big" thing, since it not only means that I'll spend tons of time on the road, but away from my sons as well (not to mention money on gas).

So, let's see how the visit & the drive go. I don't feel very enthusiastic about them right now, unfortunately... sigh. And maybe I should have asked to teach a class this summer because I'm really depressed not to have a paycheck right now. I hope we can survive these summer months on one paycheck and still have funds left over to pay our credit cards. :(

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Accomplished Husband Update: Ivy League Admissions, Grants, etc.

I sometimes like to joke that K is my "trophy husband," but given that "trophy wife" has really negative connotations (particularly in the issues of age and sexism), I suppose I shouldn't say that -- it's in really bad taste. ;-)

What I mean is that I married him for his potential (among many other reasons) and he more than achieved what he aimed for... and even things that he never suspected he'd end up doing, like working for a pharmaceutical company and subsequently giving his unsecure job up to go back to academia.* And unexpected achievements like his "ivy-league experience" and 75% job search success rate.

Anyway... this post here is to brag about my dear accomplished husband! A few months ago he was delighted to find out that one the students who worked in his lab in the past two years was accepted at multiple phd programs, including one at the ivy-league school where K did his two postdocs. Not coincidentally, K's former postdoc advisor hired him as soon as he was accepted!

And yesterday he found out -- after hearing weeks ago that people from another department had received a general rejection (they were notified as a group that nobody in that department had made it) and several of his department colleagues had received individual rejection letters -- that he was APPROVED for the very first grant he applied for. Isn't that fantastic?! I'm just so happy for him! He now had money for equipment and his summer salary will double.

I promise that I won't complain anymore as I did in my "The Grant-Writer Scientist's Wife" post from back in February -- it was all worth it! And it still is a good learning experience even if one doesn't get the grant.

* If you were reading me back in 2009 you will know that this misadventure was the one thing that went remarkably wrong in our lives until today; however, it helped us get our residency faster! Sigh... now it's getting easier to remember the past, but it's still painful at times. 

it went well

Thanks for asking, B*! The phone interview went well, I think. I was over-prepared, since K not only passed on to me all the questions asked in phone interviews, but made a mock-interview with me by calling me from his cell phone. I typed up responses to the questions, but they only asked half of the questions I was prepared to answer and some other random questions related to language teaching, such as the tricky "Which one do you think is more important when teaching language: grammar or writing?" (I totally compromised and said that they have to be taught concomitantly, that in order to write one needs to know grammar and in writing one can practice what they were taught in grammar)

I almost regret having applied, though, since I'm growing more and more nervous about talking to my department chair if I do get a job offer. I wish I'd had followed K's instincts and talked to my chair even before applying, because now it's just too late. I have this scary feeling that coming to my current employer and saying that I have this offer for a full-time job (because the job is definitely full time) won't really change anything, even if they really want to keep me.

And then there's the commute. Unless they were flexible to change the days & meeting times, I don't think I could manage to go 5 days a week...  (3h commute round trip).


So... in the end, I think this whole thing is only causing me trouble...

more later (I'm falling asleep over the keyboard)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Phone/ Skype Interview (!)

I've got a phone/skype interview (for that job application I sent). They actually wanted to do it tomorrow, but thankfully it'll be on Monday.

I haven't done ANY phone interviews, only an MLA hotel-room interview. Any advice? Anyone with experience wants to call me and do a mock interview? Thankfully my husband has just gone through two search committees, so he'll share with me the questions they asked. I think that questions in science are different from the humanities, however...

I'm not nervous, just a bit worried about what will happen if they offer me a job, how will the current people in my "almost-no-job" react and what will happen... so, please send advice my way and keep me in your thoughts/prayers.

TSA Waste -- outrageous!

Dooce posted this a while back and I've been meaning to post it. As a once or twice a year (this year will be more than that) air traveler, I have noticed the changes in the TSA inspection stations and it's outrageous to think that so money is spent for a still faulty system. Sigh...

(I was asked by the original website to remove the link, so I'm just pasting the image here instead)

robbed and stranded

don't be alarmed! it's not as bad as it sounds, but still pretty annoying and depressing.

Edited to add (11:13 am Friday): I think my brother will be able to travel thanks to our cousin in Curitiba, Paraná (state South of São Paulo) who is the head of that state/city's passport office. Phew! I don't know what was lost with the computer. Probably lots of his work files as well...

My poor brother is stuck in Brazil where he spent the last 4 days on a quick business trip. He was due to be back to New Zealand on Sunday, just in time to hug my parents good-bye and drive them to the airport so they could start their trip back to Brazil (stopping in Australia first).

This evening he arrived in the city of São Paulo (where we lived with our family for 11 years) and when he was unloading his suitcase from the taxi to the hotel, he briefly left his backpack behind and it was robbed. So now he lost his laptop and his passport, so he can't travel back home to his wife and 5 month-old baby. :(

The worst part about the passport is that next week on Tuesday he had an appointment at the Brazilian embassy in Wellington (NZ) to sign his passport -- he had already mailed all the documents to them before hand. THEREFORE, his documents are back in New Zealand and not at home, but in the Brazilian embassy... and how in the world is he going to get a new passport in Brazil?! The answer is, only if they decide to be kind enough to accept photocopies.

So... my parents are risking still seeing my brother in Brazil at the end of next week if everything goes wrong and he can't get a new passport before then... :(

And all *I* can think of is the possible lost of irretrievable photos if there were photos of the baby or my brother's travels in that laptop that hadn't been backed up elsewhere!! :(  I better not even ask him, his wife or my mom about that. Sigh.

Like my mom said to me on skype a couple of hours ago, nobody died, everyone is well, but we're still really upset (and I, silly me, upset about photos, :P). I hope things get sorted out soon for my brother and now I'm a bit more scared of our trip to Brazil, we have to be extra careful! (I must say I was always very lucky living in Brazil, I only experienced one small armed robbery, while my husband and other friends experienced multiple kinds of robbery...).

I'll keep you posted, OK?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Breastfeeding in the Media (AGAIN!) - Time Magazine Cover

I thought I'd just make very quick commentary on this week's Time magazine cover (although I don't want to engage in the "mommy war" discussion that the cover question wants to provoke, I fully agree with Katie Granju on this one, we're all "not mom enough"  at one point or another in our mothering lives).

The photo didn't bother me -- although anyone who has ever done extended breastfeeding, including the mom portrayed, will know that that's just a posed shot and NOT the way we normally nurse older kids, see my link below. And why/how would it have bothered me considering that I shared similar ones? Long-time readers will remember my own photos in this blog in this post and the ones linked within it. After 5 years and 5 months lactating the only thing I regret is that I didn't nurse Linton as long as I nursed Kelvin. In that post I talk about it very calm and rationally, but later I regretted it more intensely.

I won't really get into the discussion and I didn't much like the Time cover article (I haven't finished reading it), but I will say that Dr. Sears' The Baby Book was extremely helpful to me. (Laura @ 11D did a good round up of discussions of AP from around the web -- I really like Lisa Belkin's -- that Katie Granju followed).

One last thing that irks me:

Pediatricians have little or no training in breastfeeding in nutrition (just ask a pediatrician how many class hours he had about the subjects in medical school, I'd be surprised if they would say more than a few classes), who are they to say that breastfeeding has no nutritional value after 1 year of age and that it could be detrimental to the child's development!! Moreover, lots of pediatricians receive tons of free formula to give away to their patients and are in a way "brainwashed" by formula companies.

I liked this article in Mother Jones that explains "Why Mitt Romney is No Friend of Breastfeeding." Both of my sons were born in Massachusetts and we came home from the hospital with one or two hospital bags from two different formula companies. My pediatrician also had formula samples to give me as well.

So... yeah... I'm a "lactivist" alright, and when Laura (11D) asked her readers whether the cover was "Gross or Cool" I responded:
I dig attachment parenting and all, but... I don't know if a cover like that is good for breastfeeding awareness... maybe it actually does a disservice. . . . I'm generally in favor of anything that brings awareness to breastfeeding, but I hate it when they keep making it such an "extreme" choice when it shouldn't be so. :(
Yeah... but I know it's way more practical to formula feed and that for many moms breastfeeding is very hard at the beginning (it was awful for me, I had to pump for an entire month. It's been TEN years and I haven't yet had the strength to write a blog post about my experience!). But if one perseveres, breastfeeding can be just awesome!

2 months without twitter (March 16-May16)

Yesterday, after I received a "direct message" on twitter from my friend Anjali, I logged back into my twitter account after a long "twitter fast." It wasn't a conscious decision to stay away, it just happened and I didn't log back in day after day and I didn't miss it one bit...

When I went to check my last tweet, I noticed it was from March 16, so that means that I was off twitter for exactly 2 months! Wow... I'm sure I missed quite a bit from my Twitter friends who don't blog anymore or don't do it as often (one of the reasons I follow them on twitter to begin with): Scrivenings, LisaV and others.

Next month we may join the smartphone folks, though and then I know it will be hard not to be on twitter anymore. Sigh... I have mixed feelings about all this, but I want to write a separate post.

So, you should see me replying to your tweets regularly again... I'm even letting people know I'm back. Did they even notice I was gone? I wonder...

And in the end, twitter is WAY better than facebook in all kinds of levels, but that 's another discussion too.

Are you on twitter? On facebook? What do you think of them?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Catching up: parties, applications, surgeries

Today is effectively the very first day of my "summer vacation 2012" -  3 months of not much work & no paycheck. I didn't have a paycheck for 5 years before this, but somehow now that I'm back to the "workforce" (though still working in the margins), it does bother me a lot not to have a salary in the next months. Sigh...

Next year I will have it for at least a month when I teach for the study abroad in Brazil which reminds me that I do have to work this summer planning that. And I am being paid (my airfare to Brazil and some other expenses). I am grateful and I will plan this diligently in spite of the fact that the application that I sent on Monday afternoon makes me uneasy as to my future at either place.

Regarding the application, I emailed several colleagues and by the end of the weekend I was not so sure that it was an internal hire anymore. And when K read the posting he thought it was for a one year position (although that is not in the text), so... we'll see. I did send it with pretty minimal stress (phew!) and my former co-advisor thinks the materials look great and that the new class I designed is creative and good. It's always good to have positive feedback, especially from her (if you're a longtime reader you may remember how tough her feedback was when I was writing the dissertation).

OK, on to the next topic, the parties... I still want to post photos of the small wedding shower we had for our friends and... on Sunday we had a HUGE party for Linton's 8th birthday, I have to come back and blog about it and post photos of him finding out about his big surprise (after an exhausting 16 stop treasure hunt with all 20+ kids running around the yard).

I never gave you an update on my mother-in-law's thyroid cancer, did I? She had surgery and then radioactive iodine treatment (last week, so she couldn't be close to the two grandchildren who live in Brazil for mother's day :( -- the stuff lingers in your body for a while and it would be harmful for the children). We now wait for the result of the full body CT scan she had, but we're confident that nothing will be found, like my in my brother-in-law's (he's doing great, the surgery incision and the burning in his leg from the radiation healed beautifully, but his leg still swells up frequently). Last, but not least, my father-in-law is having his gall bladder surgically removed today. I hope it goes well!

I guess that's it for updates. I need to post a recent photo of my cute nephew who lives in New Zealand. My parents are still there visiting my brother's family, but on Sunday they return to Brazil via Australia (will spend a few days there) and South Africa.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Oh! It's probably an "inside hire" search!

The day I learned about the position I emailed a couple of colleagues/friends who know a bit about the school in questions. When my colleague emailed me back there was a comment in her email that should have been a red flag but which I didn't pay much attention to until yesterday when I was re-reading the email to K. She said that our mutual friend who has worked there before said that they usually hire informally, and that "someone must have made them post that ad."

I just emailed both friends regarding my suspicion and my colleague says we cannot know whether that's the question, but that there must have been some review of their hiring practices and a request for more transparency. I suppose that transparency in hiring is always good, though the formal process to formalize an "internal hire" is annoying for those applying from outside because we cannot know if there is an insider waiting to be hired. I'm wondering now if there's a "rumor mill" for my area.

I'm still planning to apply for the position, which was advertised very late and for which they're starting to review applications a mere nine days after the ad was posted (but maybe such a tight time frame is not unusual for late postings). If I send an application, it will be on Monday, though, the day they're starting to review it.

The result of these thoughts and conversations is that now I'm much less stressed out about it, which is great! The pressure is off (in my head) and I can see this as an opportunity to start a conversation with my department chair. I hope it's going to be a productive one and the beginning of more conversations about my future. Wish me luck with that, OK?!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amazon just did WHAT??? Get refunded and keep the book?

WOW... I'm blown away right now, seriously. I only buy books at Amazon* (I know, I should be supporting local bookstores, etc... but I love books and I need to buy affordable books) and I always use their free saver shipping (though I've recently decided to dump netflix and get an Amazon Prime account so I can get free shipping always and be able to watch streaming video).

If you're not familiar with it, the free shipping requires that you buy 25 dollars in books, so I always need to buy "tag along" books with any purchases. This time, I was buying one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone as a wedding shower gift to a friend, and I needed to spend about 5 more dollars (a very hard thing to do), so I bought Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles Survival Guide for my son as a surprise, since he'd been asking for it for a while. Well... when we received it, it was a great disappointment to him because he had already bought the electronic book and I didn't know about it! :(

Today I went to Amazon to get the refund process started and... guess what? They told me they're giving me a refund and I can keep the book!! What???!!... these guys are making such big profits that they can afford to give me a book for free? Seriously?! I don't know if I should be happy or appalled, but the thrift-addict in me is cheering and jumping up and down! (and, best of all, my dear "thrifty person in training" son will be very relieved that we just saved 10 dollars -- he'll probably want to claim it to spend it in Legos!). What do you think of that?

In any case, I'm waiting for the refund now, I'll let you know if it really happens, but I think it will and now I'm really curious to know if this has ever happened to you before.

* And in two discount places/"warehouses" in our area. I hope that is OK, since I can't afford to support small independent book sellers.

"She's sweet, but scatterbrained..." or how can one teach with a neurobehavioral issue?

please bear with me today as I throw a small pity party for myself. It gets a little better towards the end of the post (I hope!)

I told my husband that it would be a disaster -- the fact that I'd be forced to look at my evaluations in order to submit an application for the possible job that took my peace away. I generally don't  read my evaluations -- though I know I should (they didn't required us to do it in graduate school and I did it only  to submit job applications years later and oh... how I hated looking at them! It brought floods of memories of those semesters, how hard I had tried, how long those summer course afternoons were...).

I didn't/don't read them because I know that it's just too devastating for me, I can't handle it. I am fully aware that I have issues, tons of them and I know I need tons of therapy too, and that I need to "grow up" -- I know, this is true, don't tell me it's not! -- and that I'm a pathetic human being -- I know that this isn't true so you don't need to tell me either -- but it does feel that way a lot of the time when you're a "faulty" human being with ADHD.

So... I had to make copies of some of the evaluations, so I had to read, and... well... it was and is pretty disastrous in my head right now. 

The truth is that I can't (and have never been able to) handle criticism -- though I'm a really harsh critic of myself, all the time. I don't know why, but I just can't deal with it at all!! It poisons my entire life, it makes me want to quit and never do a thing again, it proves my point that I can't do anything right and that I'm just really horrible at what I do. (OK, not entirely true, I know).

And I know you have to student evaluations with several grains of salt, but... ultimately? They are writing the TRUTH. They know who I am and I truly am not a good teacher at all. I should be doing something else with my life. (OK, that's extreme again, but still... maybe I should, who knows?).

Those of you out there who receive glowing evaluations semester after semester -- you know what you're doing and how to do it well. You've been well trained (or learned from experience how) to do a good job, you prepare for teaching as you should (and perhaps, unlike me, you're actually paid decently). Well... I'm not you, I don't know what I'm doing, I haven't been well trained to do it, I don't have ANY confidence in my abilities, I just can't do it well... MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, *YET.* oh, and I'm paid next to nothing and I seriously am not going to give more than the minimum necessary time to teach these classes. seriously. (so it is partly my fault and I recognize that without regrets in the way that has to do with dedication of time).

The worst part for me right now is that now that I know for sure that I have ADHD, it's much, much more painful! Because now that I have it, I'm stupid enough to mention it to people, without thinking. And the main thing several students wrote was what's in the title, and that I'm disorganized.Other than that (and a few attacks on the irrelevance of the material -- their fault, not mine! some really didn't care to learn about Brazil at all), they weren't that bad, but it's the bad that stays with you.

One last thing. I know what one of my biggest problems is that I'm too transparent. (and I've always been and I value that a lot in me, I really can't stand hypocrisy). For living in society, though, this trait is a very negative thing because it means I don't know how to "fake" and pretend that I know it all, that I'm really prepared (or, in other circumstances, to pretend that I'm not upset, or mad or disgusted at something).  Regarding the classroom don't know how to look serious and collected and authoritative. I'm just plain old me... all the time. Sometimes frazzled, sometimes more confident, most of the time, pretty insecure.

I remember that one time Professing Mama wrote about her persona and how she posted a photo of her wearing glasses in her blog and how that was part of her "persona" and looking smarter, more professional. I just can't do that. 

OK, pity party over now!! please don't throw rocks at me!! I wrote most of  this hours ago (minus the transparency comments above), about 4:30 pm, but I won't delete a thing, I need to process this.

The post is already too long, but I promise to write another one letting me off the hook and totally blaming the students for their lack of interest and laziness...

P.S. I hope someday I can blog about this whole inferiority complex I have because of how absolutely brilliant some Brazilian professors I had were/are. Oh, and I've had students who were way brighter & more insightful than me in my classrooms. And I felt inadequate.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Melissa: The Shoes of My Childhood & Present, Now Available in NYC! ;)

I just wanted to let you know that I endorse this Brazilian product of my own will and have not been sponsored in any way to write this. In fact, it's been years since I've reviewed a product in this blog -- I don't think that marketers turn to "small" mommy bloggers anymore, just to the big and influential ones. I don't mind...

My first "Melissa" shoes were not the ones I wanted, which were the polka dot ones (these are recent, but the mid-eighties ones were similar, though in paler colors):

but the "spider" one (in red):

A Melissa Store just opened in Soho, NYC and Jarbas Agnelli made this ad for them (other stores sell them too, here's the link to Melissa Stores):

Plastic Dance from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

 Another of his Melissa ads -- I have this exact shoe, but grayish (lead color) blue, the design is made by the Campana brothers. I'd write more, but this post has been in my draft folder for months, enjoy:

Melissa Corallo from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Enjoy! More later, OK?

Free!! Just to be immediately perturbed...

I love to live dangerously, OK, irresponsibly, and I finished grading less than a couple of hours before final grades were due. I checked everything carefully and reviewed the grades.

And then I was FREE!! To enjoy my three months without work (OR PAY ! :(  )... I felt relieved and free for all of... say, half an hour?

And then I got the email that told me that I have to apply for another teaching job (which has the possibility of being a non-tt full time, though!), one for which I have to drive for a while, but which would probably be worth it. Both for the pay and for the institution.

And my peace was gone. Just like that! :(

Monday, May 07, 2012

Rainbow Love or... I wish I didn't know this existed and that I weren't so "in love" with it :(

I just pinned it in Pinterest, but this deserves a blog post too. A quick one as I take a breather from grading. It's going well, but it does take a long time even when it's just "quick" no annotation and no rubric-filling grading.

So this is the product I found out about this week from the catalog that kohls sends to my door every week:
 It's Fiesta's (I didn't even know this brand existed until Jenna blogged about it a few weeks ago) Masquerade Flatware set:
 This photo by Tempest Tea is lovely, isn't it?
I wish I didn't want it so much. Now I'm wondering whether this is a "permantent" product of whether it's temporary like Jenna's marigold dishes. Sigh... My love of rainbows is absurd and visceral... I don't even know where it comes from. All I know is that I LOVE colors and the rainbow combination just makes my heart soar, or sing, or something, whatever it is!

ease droppings

I'm grading papers like crazy, but have to share this here before I forget!

My student obviously meant "eavesdropping," but I thought that the ease of droppings was hilariously great! It made me think of the multiple piles of droppings I saw in the safari in Africa. The rhinos most certainly were at ease with droppings on neat piles that marked their territory!

Edited to add: Seriously, look at this gem of a sentence!!! "she would simply linger an exceptionally long period of time ease dropping on others" :)

And hoping for more future fun typos, I'm creating a new label: "Students Write the Darnedest Things!"

Sunday, May 06, 2012

She should know that ALL PhD Dissertations are basically "Irrelevant" and will be only read by a few people and that's how it works!

I'm not a reader of the Chronicle of Higher Ed [after all, one has to pay the subscription to read most content], I only read when colleagues or blogger friends provide links in their blogs or on facebook (I'm not on twitter anymore), so I'm not really familiar with Naomi Schaefer Riley's columns and/or her qualifications.

Two days ago, Laura linked to this piece by Riley's, provocatively titled "The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations" and, ironically in Riley's response she wrote, shooting herself in the foot: "It's Not My Job to Read Entire Dissertations." (the title of Laura's quick post)

I really like the comments in the response, which disparage Riley's argumentation, particularly this by Aron Bady and this one by Ed Lessard, among others.

Now, I don't really know much about the field of  "Black Studies," but in the end Riley is right about a couple of things -- that new fields are created all the time in academia, studying more and more obscure things. Is that a bad thing? If one thinks of "real contributions" for the "real world" -- whatever that means!! -- sure, one can argue that these obscure fields are irrelevant, but MOST academic fields in the humanities and most phd dissertations that are written are equally "obscure and irrelevant" in a sense! and that's the whole point of academia... we want the freedom to study anything, authors that are known only in their country or area, people who were significant historically only in a certain part of the country, etc.

I personally think that my dissertation would be relevant for anyone interested in Brazilian literature (I don't want to get more specific because of my "semi-anonymity"), but the truth is, probably less than 20 people will ever read my dissertation. So what?!!! I'm OK with that! That's what happens to most dissertations, it doesn't mean that they were not as meticulously researched as possible and bring into light unique aspects of a culture, a historic period, a person, etc.

OK, so these are my thoughts on this subject. And, contrary to Ms Riley's work as an opinionated journalist, as someone who truly enjoys being a scholar, it is my job to read entire dissertations and I love doing it!


brought to you courtesy of "iKelvin" ;)

This afternoon I took some time to talk to my firstborn son while laying down at his bed.

After we'd been talking for a while, I asked him:

"How do you feel being a 10 year old now?"

"Wired," he answered.

"Wired?" I said, looking at him quizzically, to which he smirked.

"I don't feel any different,"  he responded.

"But you're now a decade old!"

"A decade? A decade is nothing! You've been around for almost half a century!" 

Talk about a sense of perspective! ;)

(sigh... and then I had to remind him that I still need one more decade 'till I reach half a century).

I love my "wired"  boy. What's fascinating him right now is Ninjago Legos. And Rick Riordan books, but I want to try to write a whole post about the latter.

P.S. I obviously should be grading, not blogging. bad, bad me!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Because I should be grading right now...

... I'm going to write this post. Obviously. (warning: it's full of exclamation marks. At least it's not caps like Dooce ;)

In any case, I've been busy and I haven't blogged because blogging is in my list of "forbidden" procrastination tactics and I try not to "go there" although I do all the other things I shouldn't do. Including those that I legitimately need to do around the house, but which I shouldn't because there's so much grading to be done.

before I go back to talking of work, what are -- you might be asking -- these things that need to get done around the house?
Well, well, well, this weekend we are going to have guests from Brazil (my former music history teacher, her husband and her mom -- their son is studying in the boarding academy in our town) and... if that weren't enough, I'm also hosting a small wedding shower for two of our friends who are getting married in a month.

so... I need to clean, clean, clean, do laundry (accumulated in the last 2-3 weeks to2 months, if you count table-cloths, which reminds me that I was going to buy this beautiful tablecloth yesterday and I forgot! But it was 20 bucks... but it matches the decor... whatever), try to clean the fridge. Plan the menu, shop for food, etc. etc.

And I also WISH we could paint the hall bathroom before Friday. I should go do that right now. I think it's a great and legitimate procrastination tactic, unlike blogging.

But this is not the worst, the worst happened last week. After I taught my last day of classes, I knew I should get right into grading, but a friend (from grad school, no less!) posted a link to PBS's Masterpiece to facebook, saying that she just couldn't help it when it came to Downton Abbey. I commented back, saying that after a marathon watching season one back in February, I hadn't had time to see Season 2 yet. I knew it wasn't available for watching in the pbs website anymore, but I went there anyway.

Guess what? I ended up watching all of Great Expectations, whose episode 1 expires today and 2 on the 8th. This is one of the two books by Dickens that I actually read (the other is David Copperfield -- I wish I could follow in my friend Jamie's footsteps and read all of Dickens, sigh...) and I thought it was a really interesting and pretty disturbing work. I wish I could re-read it because it's obviously much superior to the adaptation... but, of course I don't have time.

Then, instead of working all weekend long -- and it was a long weekend because our sons didn't have school on Friday (the school is using up its unused snow-days) -- we went to the Brazilian consulate in Washington D.C. to get our passports (only not for Kelvin) -- D.C.'s Brazilian consulate is infinitely better than New York City's!!! And then... we went to Pennsylvania to visit our friends, stopping for one delightful hour at Longwood Gardens (where I forgot my camera in the CAR!!!).

The weekend was lovely, but we were talking to our friends until 3 am on Friday and then again until 1 am -- almost falling asleep over freshly made sushi -- I was SO excited I got to teach them how to make sushi!!! And then on Sunday we had an almost 4h mad-dash from PA to VA to get 1/2 hour late to soccer...

So, yeah, I guess I'm all caught up with my three blog readers now, right?

Well, except for all the cooking I did two weeks ago (some last week) and all the craziness trying to buy pillows for the living room, but these will be later posts!! (and I haven't forgotten about my bathroom's before and after).

Now... back to grading! I'm sure I'll be way more productive now that I've finally relented and blogged!