Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On October 31st, 2007

K lost the "dream job"at big pharma that he had started only a month earlier, the day after he'd mailed the first mortgage payment on our new old (and fairly expensive) house. I called it "The American Dream, Interrupted" in my blog post.

He got re-hired back temporarily and then later left big pharma to go back to academia. However, this was an event whose greatest consequences were felt only a year and a half later. It was only in March 2009 that despair overcame us when we could no longer afford the mortgage payment.

We managed to renegotiate with the lender and thankfully sold the house really well in 2010 (after investing nearly 30K dollars on it, though, on top of the 30K in down payment. We came out with 10K, precisely what we started it back in 2000 when we bought our first house... sigh...).

Living and learning. This was the hardest experience of our lives so far and we learned a lot from it. It made us stronger, wiser and much less innocent. :(

Five years have passed and I barely remember this ever happened. That's good and how it's supposed to be. I think I'm ready to face other challenges that the future may bring.

post inspired by A's comment on fb.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"We're a Culture, Not a Costume" Campaign

Last year I linked to this campaign from students at Ohio State, so I want to do the same this year (scroll down for last year's posters).

I don't like or celebrate Halloween, but I agree wholeheartedly with their campaign. I am also aware, however, that it's very hard to tell where to "draw the line" because if one thinks about costumes critically there are many other ones that could be accused of racism, "classism," perhaps ageism, etc.

It would be easier if this holiday's celebrations were mostly restricted to children dressing up as more "innocent" things (such as cartoon characters, animals, monsters) and didn't also involve young adults, who are the ones who end up promoting the culturally offensive "costumes."

Just a thought...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Sandy...

Until now we've just felt it's been useless to be stuck at home since we've only had very light rain, but it looks like things are going to start picking up.

I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in and lazily lounging in bed. We haven't made many preparations. We filled a huge water jug with filtered water and I'm considering filling the tub with water in case we need it to flush & clean.

I'm hoping we won't lose power, though. We have a gas stove, so I guess we can still cook without electricity...

I feel weird not teaching with such a mild weather outside and of course days off completely mess up the schedule. :( And it looks like they might give us the day off tomorrow too depending on how bad it is overnight.

At least it's not snow like last year, so I don't think we'll lose the rest of our tree. (Later I found that Bradford pears are really bad trees to have... well, ours came with the house...).

And so we wait...

Friday, October 26, 2012

iPhone Blogging

This is the first post from my phone & I'm already annoyed that I couldn't get the keyboard to switch to landscape, not the most promising beginning, quite the contrary... Sigh... I will try dictating the next post, which should be interesting!

I'm including a photo of this pretty flower :) I hope you like it!

Tomorrow I'll have to pull-over to nap at the Rest Area


About every other week I need to pull over at one of the three rest-areas* on my 76 mile commute to take a power nap so I can reach home safely.

But I'm OK with that.

I'm just hoping that I won't feel like taking a nap on my way to work tomorrow morning!! (last Tuesday I was really sleepy on the way).

In fact, I'm glad that I've been able to pull this long commute off caffeine-free (I really don't want to deal with being dependent on it). I do carry a bottle of ice cold water  to drink and that helps a lot! (I keep it in a cooler with an ice-pack in the car during the day)

Right now the most annoying thing in my life is that I lost or misplaced my iphone's charging/syncing cord as well as the new apple ear buds that came with it (29 bucks!!). I HATE earbuds, but these are AMAZING, they actually fit my ears perfectly. So I'm miserable without them and maintaining two phones with one cable is nearly impossible (I almost ran our of juice today as I stayed overnight at new-job-town and couldn't charge my phone. I did shut it down overnight and during teaching times and that helped).

OK, now I have to go finish some grading and class prep for tomorrow before I can hit the sack. sigh...

* I don't actually drive in front of the rest area just a few miles from my house, but I see it very closely from the parallel road I take to reach my house faster.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Thanks for your support regarding the last night's post.

I have good news for you! The hard drive may be "done," but after I wrote my post last night I remembered that I won't actually lose anything because that laptop has two hard drives, C, where the operational system is installed and D where all my files are. D is not affected by failure of drive C.


Now, I have no idea when I'll be able to access the files that I need right now. :(

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Possibility of Hard Drive Failure -- First Time EVER

And if I weren't emotional enough right now, we are facing something that never, ever happened before to us since we bought our first computer (a Gateway desktop), back in 1998.

My old Dell laptop's operating system is failing and it is warning us to "Immediately back up your data and replace your hard drive because a failure is imminent."

As you know, I have a new laptop, but I have not had time to back up all the stuff in my old one (only my teaching files). There is not a whole lot of stuff there that I don't have backed up, but there is enough to make me really sad and pretty stressed out.

There are lots of photos from the trip to Brazil that were not downloaded anywhere else but on that computer. On the last day in Brazil I put some in my mom's computer, but not all. And I think I don't have all the photos from last year and this year backed up in the external hard drive.

I know, DUMB me!!

For practical purposes, though, (since photos only have emotional value) there are other things that I need right not and that are only in that computer and nowhere else -- the recent versions of my CV, some recent academic work and, a pretty annoying loss if it materializes, my translation into Portuguese of one of my published essays that I was going to submit tonight for publication in Brazil in an email that is mostly written and that just needed the attachments.

That's now I found out that there was something horribly wrong with the laptop. I had used it yesterday to show my friends some photos (from the external hard drive) and also all night from Thursday to Friday when I was preparing a conference presentation (it was an amazing conference last Friday, BTW).

Last night my youngest son was playing on it and he starting getting upset that it was crashing. This morning the same thing, and there was much screaming and complaining about the computer, but I was busy cleaning the kitchen, getting laundry out of the washer and hanging it outside, so I didn't go check what was wrong.

Then, when I needed to send the email to the journal editor in Brazil I finally picked up my red laptop and, lo and behold, there was this warning screen on it. What is it that people call it? The black screen of death or something?

I just needed to blog this. I know I've already written too many posts today, but I need to get this out there.

Have you lost a hard drive? What did you lose? How was it?

And I'm still in disbelief that this is finally happening to us. :(  We've had nearly crashing computers several times before, but before they crashed K backed them up and reinstalled the operating system, so we never had a problem. I know, very very lucky, 14 years without problems. There was bound to be a first time, no?

Sorry for the annoying post(s)!

The Precariousness of the Margins

I'm glad I wrote that post earlier today, because now that I'm back to being full of angst about work & applying, etc. (more on that in a minute), I don't think I could have written it now/from now on.

The hard cold truth is that I'm still very much at the margins and my current job feels like a dream that is too good to be true and that I will wake up from at some point.

Last Thursday I finally signed up for benefits and for life insurance (just a few days before the deadline as always [sigh]).

Life insurance.

I felt like crying the whole drive back home after that.

For the first time in my life I have benefits and... should I die, my husband and kids will get a little bit of money from my employer.

It's a little thing, but it makes me feel like I have some value, I'm worth something (money-wise).

You know, it's only now that I have a relatively decent paying job that I realize how demoralizing it is and it feels to be "working in the margins." I think that's one of the major reasons why I feel so incredibly happy now. And that's why I felt full of angst at my previous adjunct position.

The truth, however, is that as good as it sounds compared to what I had, my position is still precarious. As part of my thought process of deciding or not to apply (I think I will), I contacted the dept. chair to try to figure out if they are planing to hire me again next year and she said that this will be decided sometime next Spring by the dean.

It's tough having your life and your future, the livelihood of your children and part of the mortgage payment money, decided on a year by year basis.

That's one of the things I was so afraid of when I decided to accept the position. My previous (and half-current) job provided 100% stability. I knew I would be reliably exploited for the next several years should I choose to simply continue.

Yeah, I know what you're going to say next. Trade-offs... yeah, that was a trade-off that I knew about but chose to gently ignore for a while. Not anymore, now that the honeymoon's over. ;)

I have lots more to say about that (and about applying/not applying), but I will stop for now. I don't want to think about these things too much because I don't want to start crying. I'll go grade some and make sure I know what I'll be doing in my classes tomorrow.

The Honeymoon's Over, but I'm Still in Love

I was walking on air those first days and weeks, I really was.

I returned to earth slowly, but surely.... but all I can say is that I'm still very much in love with my new job.

I couldn't be happier and I don't mind the drive at all! So, I hope to keep on working there for the foreseeable future. I have decided to apply for the job, but I'm hoping to continue working there even if I don't get in. I'm trying to prepare psychologically for that.

I'm also thinking that if I do get the job, by any chance, I will no longer be using my first name in the blog. I know that my first name name will still be associated with this blog in comments left all over the blogosphere, but I'm hoping that if I delete all photos in which I appear and no longer use my first name in the blog itself I'll feel a bit "safer" for having a "true" academic position and being a long time semi-academic blogger who's written a lot about her academic experiences. What do you think?

There's another "honeymoon" that is over. This one lasted for nearly two years and it's our relationship with our church. I think we can also say that we still love it, but now things are changing a bit, e.g. they no longer have a second, more contemporary service, and we need to get to church at 9:30 am, an hour earlier than in the past two years.

K has also been nominated as a leader and now he is learning all  about the "behind the scenes" stuff and church politics and those aren't always agreeable things (though nothing can compare to the negative experiences we had for several years in Philadelphia). We're here to stay, though, so I think it was about time we got more involved in leadership. It was good to take an almost two year break from that, after doing way too much in church for the past 14 years, that's for sure!

These two things, our work and our church family, are really important to us, so feels good to truly enjoy both (K is doing extremely well in his work, I need to blog about that separately at some point). I hope it continues this way!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Is Marlo My Cousin?" Or About Being the Child of a Blogger

A few years ago my youngest son approached me as I was reading Heather Armstrong's blog (Dooce) and a photo of Marlo was on the screen.

"Mama, is she my cousin?" He asked.

I know, it may sound like a strange, out of the blue question, but it does make perfect sense to me. I check the blogs I read daily and I consider many, if not most of the people whose blogs I read  as my friends, whether or not we've met these in person. (of course I'm not referring to "celebrity bloggers" like Heather here, with her it's a one way "relationship" unlike the one I have with my other blogging friends).

When we lived in Philly, the boys got used to meeting my blogger friends and their children (more notably Kateri's, Andi/Cloudscome's & Jeanette's) in person and then seeing photos of them online when I was reading their blogs. I'm sure this is what prompted my son to ask that question about little Marlo who was a beautiful baby at the time and, by the way, my sons didn't have a girl cousin then yet, so maybe he was "wishing" she was his cousin.

I actually thought that his question was awesome! He understands that these people are real and we have a "relationship" with them even though it's only through a computer screen and I like that.

As I've mentioned before, I've grown very attached to Rebecca Wolf's blog (Girl's Gone Child) and her gorgeous family in the past year and a couple of days ago my youngest son was looking at this post with me and he was really interested in the children. I told him their names and we browsed through the photos. I told him that I thought he and Archer would probably get along and I wished, as I often do when reading blogs, that we could meet their family in person.

Are your children aware of your blog writing and reading? Do you talk about blogging and blogs with them? Do they have opinions (like my youngest son)* on whether you can or cannot blog about them?

(I wish Katie would answer these, I don't comment often enough in her blog to say we have a "relationship,"  but I know she would probably be open to meeting, were I to go to TN. I love Katie! :)

* I know L wouldn't want me to share the story at the beginning of the post, but I think I'm addressing this subject very delicately and I'm not exposing him. In fact, I know that he doesn't even remember that episode, it must have been back in 2009, (I don't remember when Marlo was born). In any case, I am consciously avoiding blogging about him though I'd love to. Oh, and I've been writing this post in my head for years now, literally, so here it goes!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oi Mãe! (Hi Mom! :)

My mom checked out my blog today and she thought I'd lost my job after reading the previous post :) (she asked me on the phone this evening about it).

Before today I hadn't even noticed that the words "hired" and "fired" looked/were so similar and now "fired" makes more sense to me [it always sounded so weird/wrong to have fire as a noun and as a verb mean such different things]. Hey, do you know where I learned the word fired? In Back to the Future 2! ;) K (and his brothers) & I looove the trilogy.

No, mami, I didn't lose my job because of my bad spelling (ortografia) and thanks for checking the blog! I'll have a surprise for you in 9 days. :)

Speechless! (at my glaring error)

I cannot believe it.

They hired me in spite of the fact that I had a GLARING typo in the first paragraph of my cover letter. "Interest"  instead of  " interested"  (as in "I am interested").


And yet they hired me.

Guys, I'm considering applying. I think I'm crazy. Actually it would be crazy NOT to apply. I promise to write more about this soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How did "Going Smart" Change your Life?

I've had a smart phone for two weeks and I'm enjoying it, but I'm holding back and not doing too much on the phone yet and I'm very curious to know:

Do you have a smart phone? How did it change your life, or not?

Secondary questions:
What do you most do on your phone? Any app recommendations??

Thanks a lot for sharing/helping me out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What a relief!

Very uncomfortable to watch at times, but... PHEW!! This was a very satisfying debate in the end.

I LOVE what Michael Moore tweeted just now: "Wow. Everyone up early tomorrow and let's get to work. Every day counts."

I haven't been reading MM's tweets (or anyone's) for the past 3 months, so it's a relief to see him energized to get Obama re-elected. Relieved again...

And there were many  hilarious things like the women in binders & marriage, two parents (a man and a woman!) being the best prevention against assault weapon killings!

Sigh... just relieved. I can grade in peace now. :)

Madonna Quiz ;)

Prompted by Dooce's post from today, I had to find out which Madonna era I was and I wasn't one bit disappointed! I'm "Mid-80s Madonna," so precise!

Because "Crazy for You" was the soundtrack of my 14th year of life and I loved "True Blue" and "Live to Tell." Oh and I thought I didn't know "Borderline" (posted by Heather), but it just turns out I didn't know the title of the song, since I don't think it was top 40 in Brazil like it was here. I really don't know much of anything about the 90s on Madonna, I'm stuck back in the 80s!

I hadn't pasted one of these cheesy quizzes in my blog for ages, but here you go!

Your results:
You are Mid-80's Madonna
Mid-80's Madonna
Political Madonna
80's Madonna
Rocker Madonna
Disco Madonna
Blonde Ambition Madonna
Movie-Star Madonna
Veronica Electronica
Cause-Celeb Madonna
Cowgirl Madonna
You are willing to Open your Heart and Live to Tell what's on your mind. Although you are maturing your Papa still Preaches to you. You are responsible, you have made up your mind and you are Keepin your baby. You love to vacation. . . in La Isla Bonita!
Click here to take the "Which Madonna Era are you?" quiz...

Up in the middle of the night to write emails...

... I decided to fall asleep with the boys last night & then moved to my bed & continued sleeping (with the bedside table lamp on -- poor K who had to endure the light).

So I got up now to send a few needed emails that I should have sent last night and just to make sure I know what I'm teaching tomorrow... sigh...

I've been extra tired lately.

So, yeah, I still need to send the other email to my students before I head back to bed, so I better stop blogging now. ;)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The New Normal (disrupted)

Our lives have fallen into a routine and the "new normal" (which involves me driving 152 miles to & from work four days a week and still picking up the boys at school three days a week) feels normal indeed.

That's why last week felt so chaotic when some things were different or had to be done differently.

1) I had Fall Break from my commuting job on Mon-Tue and... thankfully it coincided with a break for my sons, whose teachers had a convention to attend on those days. Things would have gone fairly smoothly, were it not for...

2) The car I use (and which I've been wanting to blog about forever, not yet today) needed to have an oil change and we opted to have that done on Tuesday. However, oil change morphed into a brake pad change which got delayed and made us a one-car family until Friday morning! So...

3) I dropped K off at his university on Wednesday & Thursday, which made it necessary for us to drop off the boys at 7:30 am on Th. at our friends'  house so they could drop them off at school. And having to get off the highway to drop K made me slightly late both days...  (oh, the good thing was that we got to talk a little bit more than we generally do. I think we should "car pool" at least twice a week).

By Friday, things were "normal" again, but by then we were just exhausted with the "different" week, so we planned to "lay low" on the weekend and rest. If only we hadn't wanted + desperately needed to talk and catch up... (which led us to very late nights talking & talking both Fri & Sat).

Other things that were "different" last week:

On Monday I woke up determined to make the days off useful & I called our family's optometrists to see if they had openings for the boys. Lo & behold, they did! So both boys had eye exams on Monday afternoon & Linton took all of two minutes to pick his new eyeglasses (I will HAVE to show them to you, soooo stylish!). I showed the results of Linton's vision therapy evaluation to the optometrist and he took extra long to examine his eyes, confirming that there's suppression going on. He thought that Linton has very good depth perception given his limitations in vision. He thinks that therapy (which will cost over 5K) will help the eyes to work together & help with suppression, but won't improve his visual acuity in his left eye. :(

I went to a yoga class on Monday, but because of dropping off the boys, I got there late & then I had some back-ache afterwards. :(

My sick arm (correctly self-diagnosed "tennis elbow") started hurting more & now I'm back wearing a brace (this one) 100% of the time, so pain is better.

What else? Oh, I decided to take "pão de queijo" (Brazilian cheese rolls) to my class on Tuesday morning -- it was the only day I was actually present in my "tele-teaching" class. So I was late and it was pretty stressful. Being there didn't make the class much better. :(  Let's see how next semester will go.

I've got TONS of other things to blog about, but I will try to do it more later. At least I'm more or less caught up now. And last, but not least... I'm not looking forward to the upcoming week at all. :( But I should! I will have a conference at the end of it. If only I didn't have to WRITE my paper! :(  I see long nights in my future this week. And I should be grading compositions now!! :(

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I took a nap today!!

A glorious, peaceful, restful nap!!

I can hardly believe it. I can't remember how long it's been since I've last taken a nap. Even when I was in Brazil I didn't take any naps.

Of course I'm still awake because of the nap, but I needed it and I'm glad I could take a "night off" tonight after my restful late afternoon nap -- ALL my classes have exams tomorrow, so I don't have to prepare or grade (I returned all previous tests and quizzes today).

OK, I have to go take a shower and go to bed now. :)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Just because I have only forty exams to grade... :)

Of course I've been putting that off for a whole week, I'm ashamed to admit. :(

And  now that I NEED to be done by tomorrow, and it's getting close to midnight, I am just finding another way to postpone the work a little more.

This was a crazy-busy week, but I feel more energized than in all past weeks. Maybe it's the yoga (more on another post) and the beautiful, warm weather we had today.

So much going on and I don't even know where to start. About the debate/election, I hope that Laura is right and really relieved that we were eating out with friends and missed the whole thing. The closing remarks back at home were enough to make my skin crawl, as one of my contacts wrote on twitter.
~  ~   ~
I was writing on Thursday evening and it's already Friday morning. I ended up sleeping in the sofa around midnight and then I woke up (the lights were on in the dining room where I was grading) 2:50, got up ate a piece of bread with hummus and graded 22 exams, but I couldn't keep going and went to bed at 3:40. Sigh...

I had a slight headache when I got up, but now it's gone. I need to try to grade the rest of the tests before I leave. Sigh again...

Oh, and our nephews are coming to spend the weekend (we'll have them for a couple of days while brother & sister-in-law are busy with retreats and such). K's cousin (the high school senior who came from Brazil to study in the boarding academy nearby) is coming to help babysit, so we'll have a full house.

OK, gotta go!! Hopefully I'll be back later with photos...