Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year of Transformations

2012 was AWESOME!

In fact, I'm thrilled to go back to my life's regular pattern -- with the exception of 2008-2009, every year of my life has been better than the year before. Seriously. I know that it probably won't be like that forever, but that's OK.

The transformations I'm talking about in the title are two: getting a "real" job that I love, love, love! (my first full time job EVER, at 41!) and getting rid of eyeglasses after my eye-surgery. Both life-changing events.

And the highlight of the year was the trips: South Africa for 10 days, another life-changing experience, and Brazil in July-August.

We're ending the year with this current trip, first to Nashville to visit my aunt and now in Texas, visiting  dear friends and family (brother-in-law, SIL, nephew, niece; K's cousin and her boyfriend; and K's second cousin and his family).

We stayed at the house of two dear friends who moved away from our town last summer and it was lovely to just talk and talk to them. We also visited a long-time friend we hadn't seen in two years (my brother's classmate from 5th-8th grade) and her family, including her parents and her sister whom I hadn't seen in maybe 18 years.

We came to K's 2nd cousin's house this afternoon and we had a great meal at this awesome Tex-Mex place, Papasito's Cantina. Being a vegetarian paid off BIG time, since our meal was way cheaper than our cousins'! ;)

Two days of traveling lay ahead and we're tired just thinking about it, but hopefully it won't be a bad trip back. I will probably be blogging form the road, so you should hear from me again soon.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


I forgot I had already posted enough to pass last year's number of posts!

In spite of that I'll try to write a couple more posts before the end the year.

I don't mind that there's no Internet & wifi at the house we're staying because this trip was primarily to see & spend time with family & friends and we're doing just that!

This trip was the best present I could have received!! I can't thank my husband enough for all the driving he's done and will do. Both of us hate driving and he always does most of the driving when we travel (like now)... He says we're never driving back here -- only if maybe I drive... Sigh...

Friday, December 28, 2012


I had been planning to write a series of end-of-the year posts, but our friends here in TX don't have Internet or wireless (not their fault! It's he street they live in), so my plans went completely awry. :-(

As it is I will have a hard time to surpass last year's number of posts as well. It's ok to blog from my phone, but not the same as blogging from the computer... Sigh. And I haven't read other people's posts here either since he browser isn't that great.

Well... We we are having a lovely -- if SUPER short -- vacation! More later...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Texas Trip Fiasco

Edited to add: We are going to arrive after 10 pm when we could have been here for two hours already! Thankfully after Little Rock things went smoothly. I can't believe that a reader of his blog was driving in the opposite direction! Small world!

We left Nashville, TN at 9 am today and we hoped to arrive in Texas (greater Dallas area) around 8 pm at the latest and we were on track to do that until Arkansas got on our way! :-(

There is a long stretch of road on I-40 in Eastern AK in which we were stuck for 2+ hours as traffic inexplicably came to a stand still and hen crawled for miles and miles until the road narrowed to one lane (with very poor signage, I must say).

I Googled feverishly, but it wasn't an accident, it's just the (seasonally abandoned) construction zone. On he way back we'll need to take a detour and we've already checked which exits. What may have made it worst today was hat it had been snowing and there was quite a bit of snow on he ground (not on he interstate). We took an exit for my son to go to the bathroom all gas stations were closed due to weather! (He had to go on the parking lot in the back).

After the road went back to its regular 2 lanes we thought thinks would go smoothly from then on, but no! There are a few more pockets of slow moving traffic. We're just hoping that after Little Rock things will get better, of else we may have to sleep on he road. :-(

We're dreading the trip back and second guessing our decision to make this super long road trip... Sigh. Gazer delay now? Oh and in less than an hour it'll be dark!

Wish us luck, I'll update this post later. Here's. photo from the road:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

I'm delighted that I got my Christmas wish this year, though we haven't yet fulfilled it (we will in a few days): we are driving to Texas to see family and friends!

We are in Nashville right now, at my aunt and uncle's house and I'm also thrilled that I can spend Christmas with them, the last time was back in 1985, the year before they moved to the U.S. with their three small children. Bere is my youngest aunt, my dad's baby sister, youngest of 8 siblings. She is beautiful inside and out, her bright dark blue eyes brimming with joy at having us here.

After they moved to the U.S. we saw each other sparingly across the years, but since 2003 we have been able to get together every two or three years. Her only granddaughter (her daughter's only child) considers my sons her cousins (she has only one grown up cousin in her dad's side) and she remembers all her past meetings with them even though she's only 7.

It also was nice to meet my youngest cousin's wife and her daughters (my cousin's step-daughters). They are more or less same age as my sons and they are very much like them too! I hope that we get to see each other again more often.

I hope you all have a wonderful day with friends and family!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

USELESS! Netflix Streaming and Amazon Instant Video (Prime)

Well, I haven't had time to blog this (hopefully I'll share some photos at some point), but we finally "broke down" and decided to update our TV to a 21st century model -- in spite of the fact that we most definitely do NOT watch TV!

Occasionally, however, I enjoy watching some live broadcast stuff, so we bought a leaf antenna and I'm excited that I finally can watch SNL, the Oscars and other stuff like that. Last year was the first in many years in which I was unable to watch the Academy Awards & I felt frustrated and out of he loop 'cause I couldn't watch online! I also think that it's useful to be able to watch he local news as well, on e in a while.

We don't watch TV (with a few exceptions), but we do enjoy watching films once in a while, so I went back to Netflix, hoping that maybe its streaming service would be better and also signed up for Amazon Prime, for the shipping and hoping they'd have some good stuff streaming for free.

Boy was I wrong!!!! Both services are virtually useless!!! My Netflix queue that had hundreds of titles was now reduced to a pitiful selection of films I didn't want to see and Amazon offers are equally paltry.

So... We bought a great quality TV, but unless I we buy he Blu-ray Disc or wait for days until a disc arrives in the mail from Netflix (costing 8 bucks a month EXTRA now) or pay from 4-6 dollars one more per feature to stream it through Amazon, we can't watch anything we want to watch!! And I'm really mad about that!!! Hollywood is evil, they want to make as much money as possible. :-(. [insert big pout here!]

All I wanted last week was to see Love Actually again!! :-(

What do I do??? I miss video rental stores!! They had an awesome one in Amherst that had a 5 DVDs/5 days/5 dollars deal that was awesome! I can't believe that I bought a new TV a month ago and I haven't seen one single film in it because of his "situation."

21st century my foot!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Revisited

I'm planning to write a series of posts here about this past year which was quite remarkable... watch this space!

Nothing yet... (or the elephant in the room)

... I didn't want to write about this, so I will write this post quickly and let it be buried by several others.

I have heard nothing yet regarding the equivalent to an MLA interview (since I won't be there). Do those of you in my field think I still might hear from them or can I count myself out?

In my last few weeks teaching I felt that for those that are in the know about my application (I don't know who the search committee members are, but I suspect), this has become an "elephant in the room" which makes our interactions a bit awkward.

OK, let me move on. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

18 Years Ago Tonight...

...I was waiting at the airport with my brand-new husband to board a flight to go on our honeymoon.

We were married earlier that day, around noon-1pm (some images here) and what not many people know (only our [only mine? can't remember now] parents who drove us to the airport) is that the honeymoon trip had a bumpy start!

We got to the airport early and noticed that our flight was delayed, so we didn't hurry to do our check in. However... because we didn't check in, we "missed" the flight even though we were there with plenty of time to fly! I was flabbergasted. It all worked out for the best, though, because the later flight we were re-scheduled to take meant that we arrived at our really old hotel in Recife early in the morning instead of in the middle of the night (which would have been slightly disagreeable).

A friend of the family had booked the hotel which was very cheap and had a wonderful view, but which was in such disrepair that the taxi driver who took us told up flatly that we wouldn't be staying there long! (That was pretty ominous, but it was OK, we were there for a week and we were fine. In fact, we took public transportation [crowded buses] in several occasions during the honeymoon! That's what budget honeymooners like us do -- and also buying food at the supermarket not to go out to eat for every meal).

In any case, 18 years later here we are, happier than on day one, actually! We continue our stringent budget lifestyle (which today meant going out for lunch while kids were in school instead of hiring a baby-sitter, which we don't really have anyway).

As some of you have seen already, today I decided to post about our anniversary on facebook and it was nice to receive a bunch of congratulatory comments! The blog post comes a little late (it's after midnight, but I'll change the date so it's posted on the 18th), but better late than never, right?

I can let you know more about our month-long honeymoon which involved a week or so of travel with my husband's family -- something that horrifies some of our friends! I had a wonderful time getting to know Brazil's Northeast (which is the part of the country my husband's family hails from) and several places where K spent his childhood, including the town where he was born. We went back to some of these places last summer, but that decrepit hotel has been gone for years and replaced by fancy high-rises in front of the beautiful Boa Viagem beach.

Ha! Boa Viagem means a "good trip"-- in spite of the bumpy beginning, our honeymoon was a good trip indeed!

P.S. I was going to include some photos of Boa Viagem I took last August, but my browser is horribly slow, so maybe I'll do that in a separate post so I can go to bed! (it's 1:41 am, this morning after K took the kids to school we went back to sleep and woke up at 11 am, it was awesome!)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Because Getting "Almost There" is Not Enough!! Apple Allows Google Maps Back

Last night my iPhone 5 took us ALMOST to the hotel we were going to spend the night in. "Almost there" at 10:30 pm when you're exhausted is pretty aggravating! Thankfully we had seen photos of the hotel online and we were able to recognize it on the other side of the road after we drove around a bit.

Interestingly enough, when K opened his laptop inside the room, the first piece of news he saw was that Apple had relented and allowed its devices to have Google Maps again! I was elated to hear that and surprised at the timing of our trip & the news.

The very first time I used my brand new iPhone's map feature, it almost took me to Whole Foods as well. I already knew it was a defective feature, so I didn't think anything of it, especially since I could plainly see the error and the store in front of me on my left and not 300 ft. ahead on the right as my phone was telling me.

The next two short trips were uneventful and precise -- and when K first saw the Maps in action he was delighted with the interface. Last night's frustration, though, made it clear to us that it's unacceptable to have this feature make so many mistakes. I will be downloading the Google Maps app soon!

More on the FedEx Arrow...

... or, thanks Kate and Jo(e), you made my day!

You cannot imagine how many times (hundreds!) I wrote this post on my head while on the road. But I could never do it because: 1) I was driving; 2) I didn't have a smart phone. It was only now that I have an iPhone and on a rare day in which my husband was driving and not me (we're hardly ever together in the car during the semester) that I was finally able to pull it off!

To answer Kate's question, nobody ever pointed out the arrow to me (as I did to you today), I was just in traffic, behind a FedEx truck and all of a sudden I saw it! It was sometime between 2004-2007 when I lived close to the Philadelphia airport that I first saw it and then became a bit obsessed with it.

When thinking of writing my blog post, I imagined that there must have been someone reading the blog who had never noticed it and in fact, there were! Here's another photo that I took from my living room one day when the neighbors across the street had a delivery:
Last, but not least, my dear friend J emailed me this very interesting link titled "Clever Logos - Can You Guess?" It has some other fascinating logos that have some "hidden" images too. Thanks to you too, J!

Anyone else hadn't seen the FedEx arrow before? I'm just sooooo curious to find out!

FedEx's Arrow

There was a time when I didn't know that the FedEx logo had an arrow. Have you always seen the arrow?

Once you see it for the first time, you'll always see it afterwards (I know... Pretty obvious... In spite of that I still wanted to blog this). Here's a photo I just took on the road between universities 2 & 3:
If you need some help, look between the E and the X! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12 12:12 pm

Fun, "historic" date! I couldn't miss posting today, could I? Since there are only twelve months, it's the last possible month/day/year "matching" date until next century, right?

I blogged on 11/11/11 last year, at 11:11 pm, but I missed 10/10/10. This one I'm scheduling, though (it's 9:24 am right now), because I will probably be at my sons' school at 12 pm today -- the principal printed out many posters saying "Today is 12/12/12" and spread them through the whole school, I thought that was cute!

Remembering of Matching Days Past
I should take photos of all the silly stuff I wrote on 8/8/88, I was really excited about that day! And 7/7/77 was my 6th (not 7th) birthday... interesting, huh? (my mom took several photos with the date on this green "blackboard" I had received as a gift). Oh, I posted on 07/07/07, my 36th b-day! My last "matching date" post (apart from last year's 11/11/11 one) was on 09/09/09 and I wrote about reading Little Women. My sister-in-law thought it was a "thoughtful and refreshing post," thanks, A! Yeah, that's it for matching dates and me & the blog.

Today I don't have much to say, apart on reflecting on matching dates past. It's a cloudy and cold day in December. I'm thankful that both my sons are in school (the oldest stayed home for two days with the flu) and that my husband will be able to drive me to university #3 this afternoon (we're staying overnight, they are footing the bill) so I can give my second final exam tomorrow morning (two more to go at university #2 on Saturday night and next Monday).

So, all is good! (more later!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Day Off: Home with Sick Child

Today it felt a little sad that on our first day after classes are over we had to take care of a sick child!
I cannot imagine how hard it would have been if the boys had fallen sick while I was still commuting daily. K says he'd just have to take the sick boy(s) to his office, teach his classes for a few hours and come back home with them.

Last year I had to drag a very feverish older son into my office where he stayed for 1h15 min while I taught and then we drove back home... not ideal, but since we don't teach that many hours and can work a lot from home otherwise, it's pretty feasible.

I can only imagine how hard it must be for those who don't have any flexible hours, which is most people in the workforce. Sick children must be an incredible difficulty for them!

Luckily for us, today K & I were able to take turns caring for our older son -- K in the morning while I volunteered at the boys' school and me in the afternoon. We'll do the same tomorrow, except that I need to take younger son to vision therapy and I may have to drag older son along if he's not well to go to school. :(

Worst of all, though, is the possibility that I'll have to drive by myself to my 3rd university on Wednesday (I'm going to give the final exam for this class) if our son is not well enough to stay at a friend's house overnight. :( K had offered to go with me and I was so happy that we'd finally get to spend some time away together -- even if it's just for work!

Well, keep your fingers crossed for me/us!

Sunday, December 09, 2012


So I decided to have my initial "L" as my name on the blog for now. I'm still deciding on whether to delete old photos or not. I'll leave them for now...

Thanks to the eight people who voted! :)

Friday, December 07, 2012

The "Tele-Teaching" Poster Child or...

... according to my husband's department chair, "everything that is wrong with [that] university."

Apparently, I've become the "poster-child" for tele-teaching at my former institution. My husband heard that from a colleague and then from his department chair, who stopped by his office to share this story a few weeks ago.

Higher-up administrators such as provosts and others had a meeting and K's department chair and colleague attended. The provost was talking about how the project is going extremely well at the university and then cheerfully mentioned that there was this language class that was a great success.

K's department chair immediately commented (probably not to the speaker, but to those around him): "I know who teaches that class, and she's not even ours. She can be a successful instructor for this program, but the university can't even hire her!" and after sharing this with K, he added "This is an example of everything that is wrong with this university."

Well, I couldn't agree more!!!

Yesterday was my very last "extreme tele-teaching" class and I'm relieved that that this is over as well. At the end of our last class I got some feedback from the students and it was all positive, surprisingly to me, since I didn't think it was that great. It did go pretty well, though, my only complaint was that I felt they didn't talk to me much (they recognized that as true). Maybe the administrators are right, it was a good class. Next semester it'll be a regular tele-teaching gig, I'll be in the room with the students and a group from the other university will join us. I'm very relieved I'm done for now (except for two separate finals -- I insisted in driving to the other university to finally meet the students in person and they'll pay for my trip and lodging!).

OK, two posts back to back, that's a little too much for me, so I'll go now!

The Last One!!/ Back "Home"

I'm so thrilled that today is the last day I have to drive 152 miles to work and back every single day of the week!

I have a lull in grading until I give my finals next week (four separate finals, mind you, in three different universities too -- I HAVE to blog about that "teleteaching" gig thingy... I know, I should treat this experiment I was subjected to with more respect, but I just don't. Period.), and then.... I'll be "free" for a few weeks (except that I have a BRAND NEW class to prepare for, but I'm not too stressed out about it, I think it'll be fine).

It will be my very first literature class in 8 long years!! YAY!!! I'm coming back home, baby!

Not to stay, though. If I continue as a lecturer, "home" will continue to be taught by someone else. :(

Yeah, maybe I'm not meant to be a real, grown up, professor. Maybe I'll be in this "in-between" position my whole life. But I know that if that happens it's "meant to be" and it'll be fine!

OK, now I'm ready to write another post about being "in-between" but I need to go shopping for my nephew first!

P.S. Xmas cards are ordered. Picking up the first batch from evil super-store this afternoon and second batch from wholesale store tomorrow. Last batch (first cardstock cards ever, double sided! thanks to cheap super-store options) being mailed sometimes next week. I feel sooooo accomplished! Even though I stayed up until 3 am to 1) design and order the cards; 2) grade. See how the grading came last? yeah, that's why I'm always happy. Duty comes always last. All right, that's not good, I know, but I don't regret it (and that's why I don't care if I don't get the TT job because if I do, that'll have to change and I'm afraid to adapt & put duty first).

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Right Now I Really Wish I Were a "Bigger" Blogger -- Because of the WiiU

I used to get stuff (mostly books and other things like cleaning supplies and food/drink items) to review on this blog, but that's ended a long, long time ago...

My sons, OK, my older son, desperately wants a Wii U and he has asked me to tell everyone in the family to give him and his brother money for the holidays, not toys (his younger brother is not too keen on not getting ANY presents or toys, I must say) so they can save enough to buy one.

Almost four years ago I actually threw a birthday party for my then seven year old and got the guts to say on the invitation that he wanted nothing but money so he could get a Wii. About 70 guests and 250 dollars later, which our friends generously gave him, he was the proud owner of the game. And happily he's played it surprisingly little in the past almost four years (good!).

And now he wants the new version of the game. Too bad I'm not a celebrity blogger (like Heather or Rebecca) or Nintendo would send me a game so I could host a game party and a give-away on the blog. :(

I'm positively jealous (and I hate to feel that way) and I don't even want to participate on their give-aways because I don't think I'll be the lucky one (that's the pessimistic realist in me talking). Blah...

The worst part of all this is that I'm not thrilled that my son wants the game, given that I can't stand anything Nintendo (I let him buy the console thinking naively that he could stay with the sports games and that we'd steer away from the Mario themed junk. Alas, it was not to be. And now I know that the new console is ALL about the Nitendo characters even more than the old one). even more BLAH!

P.S. I do think that Wii Fit is pretty good, though. It taught me yoga! (I know it has a 'weight problem,' however. We're mostly underweight in our family and the Wii thinks we're doing great. It even said once that my perfectly healthy oldest nephew is overweight -- RIDICULOUS!).

All right, rant over!

Monday, December 03, 2012

So, so sad...

This and that (identical posts from Heather & Jon).

I feel so bad for them that I almost want to stop reading her blog (I have felt that way for a while now, unfortunately).

The saddest part for me was reading Heather's book sometime last year. I read it much too late, after they had already separated, which made reading the book all the more heartbreaking. I feel sorry for anyone picking up that book now and later finding out that their relationship ended.

The book, which I thoroughly enjoyed in terms of content because I hadn't been reading her blog when Leta was born, is as much the story of having baby and becoming a mother as it is Heather and Jon's love story and the child that came from that relationship. It's hard to imagine all of that being simply gone and over.

I'm glad that she's not going to be a second Elizabeth Gilbert, making lots of money from sharing all the details of her divorce (I really hated that about Eat, Pray & Love and other things too... I think certain people just know how to write to make money, Heather is not like that exactly...). She did write a lot about the family and their relationship and when I read her blog now I just feel like there's this HUGE empty space where Jon should be. The girls have so much of him in them and now that is just not talked about anymore. I don't like that. It's not the way things should be in my point of view... perhaps because of my upbringing and because of my family history: there are very few divorces in mine and K's family.*

It's sad to think that Heather suffered so much because of her parents' divorce and now she's going through it too. And that this is Jon's second divorce. And that there are two girls who will have to live separate lives with each parent. Oh well, what can we readers do, nothing, obviously. I just feel a bit bad that I cannot feel very sympathetic. I don't know what they're going through and I hope I never will, so I don't want to know. I know too that they will be OK, but I still feel sorry for them and... yeah, for us, the readers.

OK, enough of this rambling. Back to regularly scheduled business...

*My dad has seven siblings and there are ten grandchildren on that side (including me), all married. There were only two divorces: my dad oldest brother (back in the early 70s) and one of my cousins. In my mom's side there are five siblings and eleven grandchildren. There had been no divorces at all until last month when my cousin, after 25 years of marriage, decided to split from his wife. In K's family -- both his dad's and his mom's side have no divorces, only among my mother-in-law's cousins.