Saturday, June 30, 2012

On the day the iphone turned 5...

... we decided to wait for the 5, which is apparently coming out in September.

iKelvin was very disappointed, but when he heard about some of the possible features of the "5" he agreed it would be best to wait.

20 days ago we were released of our two year bondage with Verizon and now we can choose another company. I think we're going with Sprint.

It was a long, incredibly hot day, but it was worth braving the heat to see the new exhibit at Longwood Gardens. I hope to post photos soon. (I'll have about 30 more hours of super high speed internets!)

Enjoy your hot weekend!

P.S. I almost cried yesterday when K told me on the phone (I was driving a friend somewhere) that the healthcare law had been upheld. Phew!! Now if only public opinion could sway in its favor! :(

Friday, June 29, 2012

Soakin' up Super High Speeds with Fios

We're visiting friends close to Philly and they have *real* high speed internet  while we're stuck with a ridiculous DLS connection at home!  :(    :P

I have already uploaded and ordered all the photos that my mom wanted me to print out for her and I can pick them up at Costco before the weekend is over.

I am now uploading 700+ photos from our South Africa trip to Shutterfly so I can start making our photo book. Something tells me it will be a really pricey one! ...sigh.

(This week I had a coupon code for a free book there and I made a book as a gift for my youngest son's former teacher using photos I took of her and her students in the past two years. I think the book is super cute and making it got me in the mode for making more books).

I know I should be in bed, but I just can't help but enjoy really speedy internet while I can.

Tomorrow I have to go shopping for stuff my friends and family in Brazil "ordered."  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Connectedness: Imminent Change is coming to Casa in Translation!

well, well, well

I feel a lot of trepidation about this decision, but our lives are never going to be the same again, I'm sure, after we join the ranks of smart-phone owners, something that will probably happen tomorrow.


I do think it's going to make our lives easier at times, but...


I am horribly afraid of having internet access wherever, whenever. I'm just addicted to the internet and having no limits as to where and when I can go online makes me really scared!

If you've made this transition, can you share some of your wisdom and your experience with me, please?

Pretty please?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

March Madness 2013: 3 Consecutive Spring Breaks

I haven't yet compared our three calendars in detail (mine, K's & the kids). I know that I start roughly at the same time as K, but end about a week later, particularly in the Spring, since I have one more week off in January.

The most annoying thing for me was realizing that in March 2013 our family will have three consecutive Spring Breaks. First K's, then mine, and then the boys'... back to back, just like that. Sigh...

If at least K's and mine coincided!! Good thing we went to South Africa with my in-laws (and my parents!) this year.

It's tough to think that this is just one of the small changes that our family will have to face with my new job. I expect it will be pretty "interesting," to say the least and, hopefully, not maddening or ultra-stressful. Wish us luck!

And of course you'll hear all about it here!

Monday, June 25, 2012

And then the really old car...

... went and died on us. The timing couldn't have been worse, but at least I'm traveling to Brazil in a week, so K will be able to manage with one car.

For full disclosure, K drove the car back home from the mechanic on Friday and decided to use the car to go to the university today and may do it again more times later this week -- though I think it's dangerous and inadvisable.

Bottom line: our Honda Civic is 15 years old and has nearly 335,000 miles on it, I think it's had a long useful life and that it's time for it to go. Right now the cost of the repairs that it needs is simply not worth it. Our mechanic even said that someone might be willing to pay 500 or 1K for it, in spite of the facts that it needs repair.

So, we're looking for a new car (a used Civic, probably), even though we don't have the $ to buy one now. :(

The irony about this is that on the day I received the offer, K spent many hours and was up very late researching cars and he'd decided that what would be best for us would be a Volkswagen Diesel car, probably the Jetta Station Wagon. If we could have waited a year to buy a new car, we could have saved to try to have a good initial payment on a VW, but now that we are forced to buy a car all of a sudden, we'll have to settle for a good and cheap Japanese car instead of the German one.

One thinks is certain, we're buying a used car... we were foolish enough to buy a new Civic back in 1999. It served us well, but never again.

Well, wish us luck!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quick Academic Question: Are Courses/Syllabi Intellectual Property?

When I decided to leave my current adjunct position, I assumed that my GenEd class would be canceled, but the chair just told me they need to find someone to teach it (whether they'll be able to is another matter).

This is the class that I painstakingly designed last year... I don't mind someone teaching the same books and stuff, but... does my syllabus "belong" to the university (they have a copy) now that the class has been offered a few times or do I have any intellectual property rights to the class and the many activities I designed for it?* I think I would be willing to help the next person if they asked me to, but I'm just feeling a little sad about it... It's hard to let go when so much effort and energy is put into something...


Well, this is part of the choice I made. And I'm thrilled that I in the new job can teach whatever I want in the upper level class I'll teach in the Spring (I will adapt the class I'm talking about above).

Pleese let me know if you have any opinion/ knowledge about my question above. Maybe I should submit it to Dean Dad? ;)

* The department has a copy of the syllabus, but none of the activities.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We Arrived 16 Years Ago Today...

... and it looks like we're here in the U.S. to stay, after all!

We landed on the old Terminal 4 in JFK -- one that has been completely torn down and rebuilt.* The airline we flew on, VASP (São Paulo Airlines) no longer exists... wow. Those things make me feel old and dated!

We traveled with our choir, who was doing a tour here in the U.S. and, foolishly, wasted about 600 dollars to travel around with them in which was to be the most badly planned trip I ever took in my life. Utterly catastrophic!

It all started when we were picked up by an old bus, owned and operated by a man from Frederick, VA who dropped our group off in central Massachusetts and took off to drive another group to Illinois or something over the weekend. He made sure to collect his payment in full before departing and leaving us behind. He did come back, but that was just the beginning of our troubles! (the worst was spending all day stranded outside of a Ramada hotel in Mishawaka in hot June because the bus had broken).

That trip doesn't matter, though, unforgettable as it is for K and I, perhaps much more than for all our friends who went back to Brazil and their lives after that. We were fulfilling our dream to "move on" and perhaps away. For us, staying meant stagnation and we wanted adventure and a dynamic life.

After 14 pretty adventurous years and lots of ups and downs, we finally seemed to have settled down back in 2010, but I don't think our adventures are over yet... maybe there will be more changes and surprises in our future. I'm pretty sure none will be so radical as the one we started on June 20, 1996!

* I just wasted 20 minutes of my life looking for a photo of the old "International Arrivals Building," but was unsuccessful. :(

Mindless Entertainment...

I just finished a two-day Downton Abbey marathon... I hope I can watch season 3 a little bit more leisurely! (sigh)

Not bad for mindless entertainment, that's for sure, but that's about it, I guess. I think I liked season one better (I saw it back in January, in another marathon, when everyone was talking about this show non-stop). Cheesy ending for this season and I'm sorry we won't be seeing any of Newport (RI) in the next season, but excited to see Shirley MacLaine joining as Maggie Smith's (the best character, for sure) counterpart.

Some quick comments...
Matthew's mom was just so incredibly annoying and O'Brien wasn't that evil this time around, though Thomas continues down the path of villain-hood, but I suppose O'Brien will make a comeback next season, as will the burned Patrick who will certainly marry Edith and become the rightful heir, leaving Mary & Matt with nothing... or... anything could happen, after all, it's television. ;)

I wish I could go back and read everyone's tweets or facebook comments from back when the episodes aired (I don't even know when it was, we don't have cable)... but if you still remember your impressions, I'd love to hear what you thought of the second season versus the first or any comment about Downton you'd like to share!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Very First One

In Brazil, where I grew up, children of middle-class families generally don't start working until after they graduate from college, sometimes during college.

My very first source of income started when I was 19 and in college -- I tutored two very rich middle schoolers in English. They went to one of the most prestigious private schools in the city of São Paulo and were struggling with their English classes. A family friend who happened to know their family and me made the contact and the family hired me as a tutor (I was majoring in English at the University of São Paulo -- which is probably the largest university in Latin America and the most prestigious in Brazil). I took a bus for about an hour, then walked for 10 minutes to their house. A mansion in a sprawling property adjacent to this large man-made lake in the outskirts of São Paulo. I did that for about a semester and the pay was pretty good.

The following year, the elementary school I had atttended hired me to teach a few English classes for 2nd-4th graders, then, the institution's "Language Center" allowed me to take over their English for children's classes. I worked there, teaching a few more classes in my senior year and after I graduated until 1996 when we moved to the U.S. It was always a part-time, hourly wage gig (with retirement/unemployment contributions, though)-- as opposed to my husband's salaried job at the high school (after we got married). We left Brazil and were able to rescind our contracts in a way that allowed us to collected all our unemployment contributions.

When we came to the U.S. I had an F2 visa (dependent on a student on F1) for 2 years, so I couldn't officially work. Klebert worked a few hours as a tutor at the community college where he studied ESL for a year and I cleaned houses to help out with expenses. All our savings of six long years (16K) were wiped out in one year. That was hard. The institution we worked for in Brazil decided to sponsor our graduate studies (MA), so they re-hired my husband and started paying for our studies and giving us a small stipend. K was able to enter his graduate program, but I was a non-degree student for one year. I still cleaned some houses to help some with our family's finances (but thankfully we were out of the woods from our depressing money-draining year of 1994-5).

In 1998 I was accepted as an MA student at K's graduate institution, but... I was not offered a teaching assistanship, because, after all, I had a private sponsorship from Brazil to fund my studies, like K, who also started working as an R.A. his second year.  However, a few weeks before the semester started, the department found itself short on TAs and they hired me to be a TA!! That was my job from September 1998 to May 2004. In some semesters I "double taught" a continuing education class and I taught summers and winter sessions. I felt rich, really, making 18K a year once.

We still had a stipend from Brazil -- my husband remained a full-fledged employee at the college there -- not me, though. Even after we switched to PhD programs (with full-tuition waiver the whole time) and argued with the Brazilian employees that they should officially hire me too, because when we went back to Brazil I was going to be more needed by them than K because they had (have) a language and translation program in English and Portuguese. This religious institution is very "male-oriented" though, to say the least, and they didn't hire me, just kept giving us (K!) the stipend -- until in 2003 they decided to release us from the obligation to go back because thy no longer would have a job for K (their engineering major was flailing -- ironically today it's back up again and running). It was great for us that they "released" us because by this time, K already wanted to go on for a post-doc and we were thinking of perhaps staying in the U.S. (we consider ourselves "accidental immigrants," BTW).

We left Massachusetts for Pennsylvania in 2004 and by this time we had two sons, one was a newborn. I was still on an F1 visa (I was on F2 and then F1 that for TWELVE YEARS), which allows the student to work only at the graduate institution, so... I couldn't work anymore. As longtime readers know, my dissertation defense and being granted the PhD in 2008 coincided with our residency and a newly acquired ability to work. Which work, though? Greater Philly area had many schools, but I couldn't just "beg" to work somewhere! My neighbor taught at night at the local community college (he was an ABD in English who ended up in the county's school board system, from which he'd just retired, but he enjoyed adjuncting on the side), and he offered to help me, but I would have to say a white lie about having experience teaching composition and rethoric classes and "hide" my experience mostly in world lit classes. I didn't like that very much and I decided not to pursue it. Beside, I'd have to teach at night and be away from the boys.

That's why in 2008-2009 when we were just starting the most difficult year of our lives financially and emotionally, I offered to "help out" at my son's tiny church school and ended up working there, 12 dollars an hour, a few days a week. But in practice I stayed each day I went until 5 pm, preparing (I didn't get paid after 3 pm, obviously). I was close to my boys and that was important for me, and I "helped" the school too. 2009-2010 saw the end of that and was full year of cyber-schooling the boys (it was so intense on all levels that I couldn't bring myself to blog about it even though I started a blog specifically to do so). Oh, and I also cleaned our whole church each week (6-8 hour job) for 100+ dollars because our financial situation was just dire. (oh, and I almost forgot to mention about the miserable U of Phoenix/Axia College almost job that I tried that year and that was the worst thing I've ever experienced regarding teaching).

In 2010 K finally got his tenure track job and... coincidentally, they had an opening for one language class which... a few weeks before the semester started, turned into two language classes (there's a pattern here, I suppose -- this last minute hiring!). This year, after I started to teach 40 students to double my income in my culture and literature class, I was going to have the most income I've ever had in my entire life, 23K. I was happy and proud, even knowing I was being exploited.

I had an interview at the MLA back in 2006 that was, until last month, my only job interview ever. All other previous hirings had been informal, part-time ones. I know that the "last minute" element is still there (they opened this position extremely late and that's the main reason why I got it to begin with) -- definitely a pattern in my life, but I'm OK with it.

Guys, this whole long-winded story is to let you know that the job that I just accepted will be my very first relatively adequately* compensated full time job with full benefits, including retirement** that I will have in my entire near 41 years of life.

How could I have refused myself the dignity of such a thing? I'm just soooo happy to have made a decision that I'm fully satisfied with -- yesterday I was positively blissful! Of course today I've already been playing many scenarios in my head. Thankfully, I'm still not freaking out about the commute -- I want to cross that bridge when I get to it. I know it will be hard, and costly (we estimate 1.8-2K a year, less if I sleep there a day or two), but I think this job will be a very good thing for me. I need to value myself. I deserve to be wanted, valued, pursued, offered a pretty decent job. For the very first time in my life.

* That's "adverb girl" (me!!!) for you. sorry about that... it's ridiculous, I know, but I just can't resist it.

** I had that in Brazil, but I was part time and on a student visa I could waive saving for retirement -- since if I left the country I would never see that money anyway. K and I still contribute for retirement in Brazil and we'll be eligible for a small pension if we keep paying until we're 65. We may decide to stop at some point.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I wrote last night's post while still disappointed and angry about the chair's email -- which I read after a long day and a long drive. (and tone is the first thing that can be misinterpreted in email)

Impulsive, as usual... (I have to be more careful now that I know for sure that I have ADD).

In any case, I don't think my comments here have been balanced at all (either trashing current institution or belittling possible one). The pros and cons list I typed this evening is pretty balanced, actually -- 5 pros and 5 cons for each place. I think I need to put things into perspective, both here and in my head. and I think that this lack of perspective is what leading you to lean towards telling me I shouldn't accept.

Today I was told by my friend who works there that the chair is a very "dry" (we were speaking Spanish, so "seca") kind of person, so that explains her language in the email.

My other friend (the one who sent me the link to the posting to begin with and who has been working for 6 years in current dept and is now going back to Mexico) continues to encourage me to accept and be more challenged and grow professionally.

I emailed my chair to tell her I hadn't made a decision and she said she'd already been communicating with people from the other schools that have that tele-teaching thingy because the course I was going to teach may fall through. She wants to try to pressure possible new employer to let me still teach that class. I don't know if they will want to accommodate her/current school.

OK, still haven't made a decision, but have been leaning towards maybe accepting. I'm pretty calm right now...

My biggest worry: regret after the decision. K is joking with me that I will regret the decision no matter what. Is that really so? :(

P.S. my mom and dad are really against it now. Sigh...

Indecision R Us

You know, I'm just going crazy with my stupid "indecision" here and then I remembered!! I'm the QUEEN, the "Goddess" of Indecision!! How had I forgotten that? So... instead of writing another stupid and boring angst-ridden post, I'll just go humorous and link to this, very old 2008?? (wow, has it been 4 years since I finished my stupid useless phd?)

I have new readers now who won't have read that... my very first "Issues or cheap therapy" post (I was supposed to have posted tons of them, but I think there are only 13 of them (14 with this one) -- I thought there were less).

In any case, I'll go and re-read it now. I need some comic relief. Not that the post is comic in itself, I wish I could be a funnier, wittier person, but my indecisiveness is truly ridiculous, that's for sure!

the lesser "evil"

Thanks feMOMhist and Anastasia, for your feedback (and Spanish prof too) -- sorry for lack of links!

I think that at this point it boils down to which of two adjuncting positions is the "less bad" -- for lack of a better term. (right now for me the fact that current u pays for conference travel, is happy with me doing scholarship and allows me to design new classes is a BIG thing).

Oh, and I forgot to add the "not answered" questions from the last post -- I emailed the dept. secretary to know what the Spring schedule is like and she didn't give me the schedule -- knowing that is really important in my decision too, because if I have to go every day again... nah, I don't think it's worth it at all.

OK, more later, gotta go.

answers (and no answers) to my questions... not a good vibe

On Sunday night K & I literally spent hours drafting and carefully writing and email to the "other university's" department chair (who is away). I sent it first thing Monday morning. Than, last night I sent a copy to the dean (who had said I could get in touch in the offer letter).

This morning I got an email from the dean saying that s/he would get in touch tomorrow and the dept. chair said s/he's answer my concerns soon.

The email from the chair arrived this evening and it was a disappointment for both K & I. no good vibes... in the last line the chair argues that the main reason I should go teach for them is that the students are really enthusiastic. wow, that is the best you can come up with? seriously? the "congenial department" wasn't featured there this time -- was that because she had just informed me that lecturers don't get funding to go to conferences? And that all lecturers are paid the same (a flat rate per course), regardless of the contact hours of each course. And regardless whether they have an ma or a phd.

The answers were pretty laconic and out of character with the strong commitment in convincing me to take the position that seemed to motivate the other people that talked to me on Friday.

well... it was just a slightly more "sweetened" adjunct position which doesn't really pay double of what I'm paid here (because of more contact hours and more intensive teaching). The main difference is that because I have a contract & a salary, they have, as per state law, to take a pre-tax retirement contribution from my salary towards my retirement.

that's it.

now the balance is leaning towards my current institution again. OK, I have to go to bed. I drove almost 4h today (round trip) to take my sons to spend a few days with his cousins in a camp-meeting. We'll join them on Friday.

I can't wait to be 100% at peace again... sigh.

Monday, June 11, 2012

why exactly should I do this?

I'm sorry to keep bothering you with this possible new job stuff... blogging about it is good for me, not only because it helps me with the decision process, but also because several of my readers are academics who can give me good feedback (and you already have, thank you so much!).

so, maybe this is the key question: why exactly should I take this job? what would I gain?

K's reasoning, from day one (the day I heard about the position) is that it's good for me professionally because this is a unique opportunity to join (even if "in the margins") an outstanding department.

Everyone in our acquaintance who's familiar with the institutions we're dealing with agrees (if you're really curious, email me and I'll tell you more about that). This agreement is even stronger among K's department colleagues at the university (some of whom we've sought advice from as soon as we heard about the position and who resoundingly encouraged me to apply and go there). People in K's department think that my current department is really bad (and it is an incredible machine of exploitation, that's for sure).

so... what exactly would I gain?

1) More experience teaching language because I'd be teaching higher levels and much more sophisticated and motivated students. It would look very good in my CV (both the classes and the school).

2) Excellent collegiality at a department that everyone I've talked to has described as "congenial."

3) Retirement benefits.*

I am waiting to hear from the dept. chair whether they would support scholarship (though it's not required) and other important concerns I have.

Detrimental points:

1) Still an adjunct position, maybe more unstable than my current one (which can basically be considered "permanent" -- as in permanently exploited who knows for how many years more ;)

2) Teaching language only, not culture & literature (though teaching a GenEd class is not that great anyway and I will probably still teach it in the summer);

3) Long commute and lots of contact hours in the Fall (it gets better in Spring) (I will probably sleep a couple of nights there at the house of a friend who has just accepted a similar lecturer position. Her husband teaches at our current institution. I want to pay, but it probably wouldn't be much, and I could cook with her to keep my costs down);

The driving can probably be turned into a good thing if I use it to listen to books, which would be an excellent use for my time.

What say you, my dear readers?

* and an additional half-joking benefit -- there are more stores there than where we are now. I don't want to get into specifics, but I'm happy about that too.

WASPs and Academia

remember I told you they had a failed search for the tt position? Well, I think that yesterday I found out who the person that they'd really loved and had wanted to hire was (he got what he wanted somewhere else, BTW, I'm just waiting for the confirmation in the new school's dept. website come fall).

I was a little bit angry to find out he was a WASP male (aren't wasps always male? I thought so somehow). I really find it ironic that he was to be the sole representative of my country and culture in this institution of higher learning. I guess that's why they need a minority person in a subordinate position to compensate.

yeah... right.

now, wasps are highly valued in academia, that's for sure.

OK, this is a pointless rant, as the professor emeritus this guy was going to be replacing was also a wasp and he wrote good stuff about my country. but... more often than not, it's wasps that they want for senior positions in academia. minorities and women can even become dept. chairs (as is and was the case), but still... they want to hire a wasp. They may hire another one next Spring, but maybe not. Maybe it'll be a man from my country. ;)

Facing Fears... Home Alone! :(

This who I am... a "realist" or... as some like to call it "pessimistic realist"... my husband can't stand this trait of mine and I know that he'll have no patience whatsoever for me if I say anything at all about the surgery. Especially considering we're going to be paying money that we don't have for it. Sigh... 

So please indulge me in this hopefully short and pathetic "fear fest" while my three boys are away having fun at a water park (surgery precluded me from going. I am slightly happy for saving the money, but... my situation is not ideal for being alone right now).


- the long drive, being too exhausted, the danger inherent in driving which will be basically tripled (every day when I drive back home I think about how dangerous it is to drive a car, but we often don't think about the risk);

- having permanent damage to my eyes, like some astigmatism (I know, I should have given more thoughts to the risks before the surgery, not after);

- losing this new job after one year and not having the old one anymore;

- continuing problems using the computer/looking at screens or the slight glare and that I'm experiencing now (this one makes me despair because I generally use the computer a lot, both for work and for leisure);

- the challenges of the new job and the feeling of intimidation of being at a more prestigious place (this is actually not a bad thing at all, right?);

yeah... I'm sure there are more, but so far, this is a pretty short fear-fast, aren't you glad?

Now I'm going to try and watch a film or two... even though the subtitles (which I don't completely need, since I know French, but which I read anyway) are slightly out of focus/ "glare-y."

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I don't know if it's because I spent too much time in the sun this afternoon (my son had a birthday party at a pond -- I wore sunglasses the whole time) or if the glare from the computer screen is bothering my eyes (I have it dimmed as much as possible and I'm wearing sunglasses right now!), but I had an uncomfortable headache this evening. I'm feeling better and I'm hoping that my eyes will adjust soon and that I won't have trouble using the computer.

Then, of course there's the continuing headache of this position I've been offered. I literally spent the day either actively "working" on it... calling my dept. chair in Europe, calling a friend who has taught a class at the university, writing emails to friends and drafting the all-important email to the other department head... or talking about this headache with my friends and with K. I'm getting sick and tired of this and will be glad once it's all over...

[I'll add links later] I just wanted to make a quick correction to Friday's email (because of Spanish Professor's comment -- thank you so much, BTW, and thanks to everyone else that took the time to comment, or email me): it was my department's secretary (not my chair) who had an enthusiastic reaction. I didn't talk to my chair until this morning and she was, understandably, pretty upset -- but she immediately said that the university cannot offer me a full-time position, as I imagined she would say. I hope I can help her find a suitable replacement. In fact, we spent a lot of time today brainstorming who -- among the people we know -- could come and teach these classes. We even called a couple of people!

OK, I have to try and finish the (new) chair's email and send it. K is reading my draft now... I have a lot of questions for her, I hope I can find the right kind of language to ask them!

I'm exhausted and headache-y, so I have to go, but I'll keep you guys posted.


edited in 10/23/13 to remove links at the request of medical equipment vendor Allegro Medical (I hope I can mention them, this is no link!) I'd linked to them myself, they weren't paid links, but they're having trouble with Google so I removed the links.
I have to wear shields like these for sleeping:
And I secure them to my face with surgical tape (3M's Transpore)...

The tape just won't come off my face, though and I've been pretty sticky in the last few days. Yesterday I tried soap, moisturizer and vaseline, but it didn't work. Today I googled how to remove surgical adhesive and one link told me to use either oil or rubbing alcohol (which would dissolve the tape). I went straight for the isopropyl alcohol, and rubbed and rubbed my face with a cotton pad. It helped some, but I was still mostly sticky.

That's when I went to 3M's website and found out that this particular tape (which is used for keeping tubing in face after surgeries other medical procedures) does NOT dissolve in alcohol!

One thing this Q & A document suggested was using a medical grade adhesive remover or moisturizer (I tried the moisturizer already!) to remove the tape.

I don't want to spend 26+ dollars on an adhesive remover like this one
{this link & the next ones were removed at the request of the online vendor}, but maybe I'll need to! :(

HEY!! There are wipes that don't cost too much -- the problem is that it's a box of 50, if sold individually, they'd be 1.02 each...  I wonder if I can find these wipes in a pharmacy, since I can't really wait several days to get rid of the stickiness in my face. Sigh...

You know... I will email/call my LASIK provider and tell them that if they always use the 3M Transpore (they give us a small roll), they should include a few pouches of the adhesive remover for us patients -- that would make their care even greater. Maybe they'll listen to me and future patients can have an easier, less sticky post-operative week.

Friday, June 08, 2012

job offer: i'ts getting REALLY complicated, I'm almost anguished!

So many emotions in one day and everything still very much up in the air. This is very unnerving. I wish I could just sit in peace after my surgery and didn't have to strain my eyes reading, writing, etc...

note: throughout this post "here" refers to my current institution, "there" to the one offering me a job.

After my doctor's visit, I visited the university and one of the professors came to meet with me since the chair is away and the dean had a prior commitment. He was extremely effective "selling" me the university and, most importantly, the department and the students (most excellent quality, according to him). K met him too and we talked for a while.

The secretary helped me figure out the schedule and I was quite discouraged when I found out that two of the classes do meet every single day of the week. This basically makes it impossible for me to try to conciliate the two jobs as I was hoping to do (unless they agreed to change their schedule, which is not very likely) -- which would be a huge sacrifice, but with a good monetary payoff in the end. And because they're all language classes I was thinking I could pull it off.

On the drive back to our current university we discussed various scenarios. Background story: this position that I've been offered appeared because their lecturer decided -- at the very end of the semester -- to go teach at Harvard which is closer to his graduate institution (he's ABD at the moment) and... that's the hardest part, they also had a failed search for a tenure track position in my area (K says it's good that I didn't even know about that position because I am/was not in a position to even apply for a TT job at this point).

Anyway... half-way through our drive I called my department and discovered that my department chair is away in Europe for the whole summer, so there's no use talking to her and seeing "what she can do" for me. We didn't talk much the rest of the way.

I decided I needed to email both chairs right away and went to K's office, where I found an email from the other university's former department chair, wife of the professor I talked to, encouraging me to accept and giving me her phone numbers in case I had any questions.

A few minutes later my phone rang and it was her. We talked for about 20 minutes, I asked questions, shared my concerns, explained that I didn't want to stop teaching here, discussed my teaching load, etc. It was a productive conversation in which she was able to tell me the textbooks they use there and some of the things the former lecturer did. Just for you to have an idea, in their elementary intensive class which meets 5 days a week they cover in one semester the same textbook we teach in here in FOUR semesters.

After we got off the phone, I got the cell phone number for my department's chair in Europe from my department secretary who effusively congratulated me on my job offer (I thought that was very strange -- shouldn't she be sad that they were losing me? I was taken aback! She did know I was applying for something because I'd previously asked for copies of my transcript & teaching evals).

I also learned via email that a friend and former colleague here is also going to be a lecturer there too and another friend/colleague I called (the one who urged me to apply) was very happy for me too.

We drove home and while still divided, I felt slightly more inclined to accept. We reasoned that if I sleep there two nights, I only have to drive 3 times a week there and back. And I can try to work a way with the students not to have classes on Friday.

When we got home and I was already writing this post, K and I decided to calculate pay versus contact hours. And... guess what?! Considering that I have more contact hours there, I'm paid nearly the same per contact hour even though the annual pay is a bit higher. Of course in number of students I make a measly 185 per student per semester here and about 720 per student there (if the enrollment for my classes stays where it is, pretty low now, in full capacity for the beginner classes, it drops to 400 - still more).

I don't know if we should be doing the math or what, but still. Another thing, we're wondering if they pay more for people with phd or not (here they do, 500 per class).

In any case, there are tons of issues to consider, but the bottom line is that it's still "work in the margins" and I begin to regret past choices and think that maybe I should have done things differently. oh well... but that's stuff for another boring post on my ongoing struggles with this complex beast: academia.

Sigh... sorry to bore you to tears with my wonderings, it's just that it would be nice to have more feedback. It's such a difficult decision to make!

Not to mention I feel bad for my students... and for me if I have to drive so much (I know, there's always audible and listening to books would be a good way to use the time)... sigh again.

20/15 Vision

That means I see better than 20/20 (which is a weird way to describe vision for me to begin with. According to this, it's 20/20 because the normal length of a vision testing room is 20 ft. long).

I really can see absolutely perfectly and that's awesome! More about the surgery later (the most annoying thing is having to put drops in my eyes all the time, particularly the lubricating ones, which I need to feel comfortable)... now I have to blog about something else.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

Incredible: Modern Miracle

I can see!!

I shouldn't be writing, I need to go down for my 3h nap, but I couldn't resist blogging. I'll describe the whole thing in more detail later, in case someone is interested.

Off We Go...

... I'm not nervous at all and I hope everything will go smoothly (and quickly).

I hope to be able to blog again by the end of the day, we'll see!

Last night I felt slightly panicky for a few moments and also guilty for spending all this money on an elective procedure, but the feelings passed quickly.

Now I just hope that my adhd forgetfulness will not interfere with putting drops in my eyes every two hours and then 4 times a day for a week. I've been told by other LASIK patients that the lubricating drops are particularly important. I've already been using them for a week, but less than faithfully at times.

All right, gotta go now!

Good-Bye Netflix

I don't know why I stayed with it for so long. Once back in 2008 when I was dissertating I think we kept a DVD for 3 months... I suppose that's how netflix made their money.

we had the cheapest plan, one that didn't even exist anymore 5 dollars, 2 dvds per month, 5h of streaming. Their DVD collection is great, with tons of international films (something important to me), but the availability of stuff for streaming is very weak, I suspect that Amazon Prime is better.

I saved my super long queue in a word document, but I know I don't have time and wish to watch films anyway, so... I think I won't miss netflix at all. Too bad the last DVD I just saw was a really bad Brazilian film. :(

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

offer letter... still adjunct... 36 vs. 23

(follow up to previous post if you haven't seen it)

The email contained an offer letter.

Still adjunct, obviously no guarantees of continuing employment, one year position, but "lecturer" with benefits.

13K more than what I make -- not even that much, though it would help -- & less students (I currently teach a class of 40 to be able to make double on that class).

not really the best bargaining tool, especially considering that my own dept. is not in a position to offer me anything like that.

still very much working in the margins, but a little better.

classes are every day of the week. 3h commute. edited to add: round trip

If I were to continue working there (which might happen), we'd probably have to move in a few years. But I LOVE our house, where we live, the kids' school. I know I'll love the job, but I don't want to have to move again, I want to stay here! :(

I can't stand all the psychological upheaval that these thoughts bring.

Sigh... and, most importantly, I can't handle all that driving. I need to be here for my sons after school (I would make it most days, but I'd be dead!). Those are some of the main reasons why I almost regretted applying.


Ideally? I wish I could teach three days there (two in the future if possible) and 2 at the current place. It would be crazy, but... I could always go back to current school if they offered me something better.

NO!! ?? !!

I can hardly breathe (I had originally written "brief" -- I suppose I can hardly think or type as well, blah).

After days and days of checking my university email to find whether there was by any chance a "rejection note" from that job I'd applied to and interviewed for, I quickly check my personal account a minute ago and find an email about my "appointment" to the position, requesting I sign something for my background check.


I can't even go back and read the email. What to do?? I have to teach at least two classes here in the Fall because I don't want to lose my position here -- what if the other one doesn't work out in the end (even though it's a full time lectureship). How to approach my department chair? WHEN to talk to her, given that I have surgery tomorrow and an appointment the next day?

Well, I'll hit publish and call K, it's all I can do.

And I will HAVE to go talk to these people (this department) on Friday after my appointment, that's for sure. I might as well, since my doctor is there.


What will I do? Lack of peace AGAIN. :(

Pillow Fight, or... buy and return, buy and return...

(extra title "Saved by Target")
I wanted to update the looks of our couch & living room for Spring/Summer, so I went out and bought countless decorative pillows in April and May. OK, I guess they can actually be counted, but it did feel like the buying and the returning of pillows would never end!

I wanted "aqua" colored pillows, but they were nearly impossible to find. First, I got these green/brown pillows at Ross (they were so cheap! I couldn't resist), but they were too bland & blah...
...So I returned them and thought that these inexpensive and nicely colored outdoor pillows from Costco (including one to sit on the ground) were nice, but changed my mind in a few days (rougher fabric, definitely looks like it's for outdoors):
I returned them and stopped by Tuesday Morning, where I thought that the color of these was just the perfect aqua green that I wanted. They were pricey, though, 15-20 each! 
I went back to Ross and found these other pillows, more blue than green, for half the price of the green (two for 15):
... but the fringe of the cheap blue ones were not as pretty as the green's, with black in there (in addition to the blue, brown and beiges):

K settled my indecision because he couldn't stand the taffeta fabric of both pillows -- he thought it was super scratchy! So I returned all of them, together with this cheap (6.99!), but bland oblong pillow from Ross: 

Finally, Target to the rescue! I was overjoyed to find these true aqua pillows @ Target. The solid ones were 2 for 14, but the striped ones were 14 each (not very cheap), but they were so perfect, so I didn't mind!

So... 16 pillows later (12 of which were returned), I now had the four cheery ones that I wanted for our couch!

P.S. Last week I bought one more of the stripped pillow on the right ($2 off!) and now there are two pillows on the love-seat and three on the couch.

It's The Day Before...

... my LASIK surgery. Bright and early tomorrow at 8:45 (which means we have to leave home at 7 am).

Since I have been posting so little on the blog lately -- and I'm afraid I'll have trouble catching up in the second half of the year -- I want to post a lot today.

I am slightly nervous, but not really. The doctor said they give us a Valium before surgery so we can relax... I've never taken one or anything like it, so I don't know how it will feel and I was thinking of saying I didn't want to take it.

What do you think, Valium or no Valium?*

*I just checked the NIH site on it. I had no idea it was also used to treat IBS (which I have -- my IBS could be bad tomorrow morning from waking up so early, that's for sure).

P.S. it might be good to be drowsy, since I've been told that the best thing to do is just to sleep afterwards since one can't read or do anything else. Sigh...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Salty foods may not be really bad for you!

Today I saw this interesting NYT opinion article about salt, titled "Salt, We Misjudged You" and I was happy to read it because I've always loved salty/savory foods better than sweet ones and I love my food on the salty side (can't stand food without salt). In fact, I think I need to eat more salt because my blood pressure is generally very low.

One of the most interesting features of this article was demonstrating how oftentimes policy decisions (particularly those related to health issues) are NOT at all based on conclusive science, but on hypotheses and "commonly held" beliefs. I find that very troubling, to say the least. The fact that the organs that promote a "less/no salt" point of view  (USDA, NIH, CDC) choose to simply ignore the studies that demonstrate that salt deficiencies can be detrimental to one's health is pretty outrageous...

well... I know this is one small issue, compared to others, but since I crave salt so much, I thought I'd share this link!