Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Husband's Dream Car

A TDI station wagon VW (this is a Jetta). Too expensive, though, in spite of the fact that it saves $ on fuel and goes much farther on a full tank.

Blue Poppy

My son took these photos* at Longwood Gardens two weeks ago and I took maybe 100 more of this flower, one of my favorites ever. I hope to share more of those later. I'm feeling ok, I need to get over this and I will. It'll come and go, and that's life.

* And he promptly put one of them as my phone's wallpaper -- gotta love him for that!


I haven't felt alone like this, in a very long time. I feel so alone, it hurts. So I got in the car and burst into tears (and I don't cry very easily). And I hate crying because I try to hold it and it hurts my throat!

The knot in my stomach was still there and I was just now beginning to not feel frozen cold anymore. All because I needed to write an email back to him (see yesterday's post, I'm blogging from phone & will include link later). Writing that email was hard and reduced me to a pile of nerves (all hats going on is that he's actually going to plan the whole schedule, everything and I... I have to stop pretending that I have a real job).

I knew that it would be hard, but I didn't expect it to be so hard. And to think that it could feel even worse when the semester starts and the "new normal" takes its course! Just the thought of it makes me want to quit, but obviously I can't. I need to work. I need to help my family. It's not a choice or an option, it's a need.

Why do I feel so alone? Because I feel like don't really have a forum to vent and listeners/readers to empathize & commiserate with. And also because I'm married to a tenure track professor who is very sympathetic, but who can't really understand and who gets frustrated with my "paranoia" (in his point of view).

I know that Anastasia & some others will fully understand, but she no longer discusses these issues in her blog (it may sound weird, but this small thing makes me feel more alone). There are people who are not sympathetic when we voice these concerns, so I understand why she moved away from his loaded subject. Most of my academic blogging friends have moved on and I feel like I'm stuck and, worst of all, that I have become this endlessly whiny, annoying creature. Sigh...

I could try to begin reading adjunct blogs & online communities, but those people don't know me!

I had most of this post written when I went to yoga. I thought it'd make me feel better, but no. Two of my U#1 tt colleagues (one just hired) take the class too. They both belong to a program that has the potential of opening a tt position that I could possibly apply for. Sigh... I cannot talk to them about these things!!!

Sigh. I cried again on my way to the grocery store and I'm sitting here in the car.

I fell like I'm being sucked into a dark place right now. I hope this doesn't last long, but it might. It might last a whole year and that's an unbearable thought. I pray I'll be able to bear it and learn to be cheerful again. I feel bad for my husband, because he can't help me and I don't want to aggravate him. Sigh...

I'm sorry to be writing this ridiculously whiny post, but I have nothing left to do.

I'm alone.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My drive to work this morning made me so sleepy/tired...

... that I had to take a five minute nap before getting out of the car and walking to class! :(

I still don't want to drink anything caffeinated, though.

P.S. And I just created a brand new category! "Mega-commute" :) and I will now label older posts that deal with this topic.

My New Cross to Bear & New Dept. Chair

Ever since I received that first email from the chosen candidate to the tenure track job (the young guy who is going to be my "supervisor") I shudder when I see an email from him in my inbox. I just received another one with the syllabi for next semester (& already replied), so I had to come write this post for therapeutic purposes. 

For the very first time EVER I will be required to use someone else's syllabus next year. We were really privileged in grad school and could design our own syllabi when we taught our own sections (which I did for about 3.5 years, including summer and winter sections). So... I've been thoroughly spoiled in planning my classes just the way I want.

This is not how things work at U#2, though, and this year was an exception *just for me* because I was the only person teaching my language/literature. In fact, I have a colleague who was an assistant professor at Ivy League school but who was denied tenure (horribly dysfunctional department, more on this on another post someday), and she is only an adjunct, teaching two classes -- she's not even full time like me. As a result, she has to use syllabi designed by people much younger and inexperienced than her and which have actual problems (such as a film that does NOT exemplify the genre the students are reading and studying about). I personally think that this is an indignity, but what can we do? We're just cogs in a machine. As adjunct faculty we're 100% expendable and replaceable, so we have absolutely no voice.


I know, that my problem with having to use someone else's syllabi is an issue of control. Perhaps I need to learn to be a more submissive person and to accept "the cross" I need to bear (all the while hoping it will be light)... but it's still hard!


On a different note, they recently announced who the new department chair will be next year and... I've talked with this person a few times since then because we teach at the same time and in the same hallway. S/he has actually been chair twice before and a member of hir family is also a lecturer, so we lectures are hoping that s/he will be on our side. (I better be careful here so it's harder to identify me or the department, etc.)

Back to the syllabus situation and to "bearing my cross" gracefully. First, I should be very thankful that he asked for my input and actually used several features from the syllabi I sent him. Second, I know I can still do what I want in class and it's just a "formality" that I need to use the "standardized" syllabus that he created. So... I just need to calm down. That's why I needed to write this post and it's helping. Thanks for listening! ;)

P.S. I was going somewhere completely different with this post when I wrote it in my head! I was going to say that I feel like a mercenary and that I'm only doing this (continuing teaching at this place even though I applied for the position and didn't get it) because of the need to earn money to help my family. I don't like being a mercenary one bit, but it's necessary. :( On the other hand, the students are great at U#2, so it's painful to think that I may not teach there anymore one day. Sigh... Ups, and downs... that's my life! (and anyone's, right?)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PSA: I Only Check Twitter Once a Week

Those of you who read me here and whom I also follow on Twitter may have noticed that once in a while you get a bunch of replies from me for tweets that you posted several days back...

I don't know why, but I can't bring myself to constantly check Twitter on my phone! I don't want to let it control my life and my thoughts, but I still don't want to miss what's going on with the very few people I follow on Twitter (the only reason I follow several of them is that they no longer blog and I want to keep up with them), so I often read five to six days of tweets in one sitting.

Last week this proved invaluable, because LisaV actually shared with us that she was getting divorced and I'm glad I didn't miss those tweets... I don't like to be out of the loop, so to speak. 

The truth is that tweeting hasn't worked for me at all... I get it how it could be a great tool to communicate with friends, blog readers and even strangers, but I only use it for that (and rarely too) in the account that's under my real name and where I tweet in Portuguese. I've had several fun "conversations" with some of my husband's second/third cousins, particularly about Downton Abbey.

I don't know if I want to be more active on Twitter, I feel it would just take more of my time and I already try to police my time spent on blogs and stuff (which is a lot!). I also have not tried to use tweets to promote my blog posts because I feel very few of them would actually merit being "advertised" like that... Questions:

Do you Tweet? How do you use Twitter and how/why does it work for you?

Monday, March 25, 2013

NOT FAIR!!! I want a snow day too!

I'm pouting like a little kid this morning because my husband and kids have a snow day and I do NOT and I have to drive my 76 miles to go teach.

[big pout]


I know the roads are definitely safe, but still, it's annoying... If it looked worse I would get in touch with a grad student and former student of mine at U#2 so she could teach my classes, but I don't think that's justified at this point, I just need to go teach, it's my job. Sigh.

It's beautiful out there too, I wish I could be taking photos of some blue ski and snow and maybe pretty birds, but no, I have to drive. Thankfully my dear husband is cleaning the car & driveway for me so I can go. I'm leaving around an hour earlier than I generally do (actually, not exactly, I'm running late already in my 1h ahead plan!), so hopefully I'll be fine.

I haven't had the energy to blog anything substantial here... maybe sometime soon, OK?

(and there's no label that will fit this post, Random stuff? update? nah, ok maybe nature & seasons).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Back Home Tonight!

Any minute now K, the boys and his cousin (who is also a K) are going to be home. They were supposed to return tomorrow morning, but K left the conference earlier than expected and I'm thrilled that they'll be home tonight!

And in the end I only spent one night alone. YAY!

I think they're here, yes, it's them! Gotta run hug my boys. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's official, I'm a Megacommuter

A few days ago, Rebecca Davis-O'Brien's piece "Me and My Megacommute" was posted in The New Yorker website, but I only saw it today.

It is little consolation to know that nearly six hundred thousand other commuters drive as much or more than I do to work every day... sigh.

This semester I'm only driving three days a week and I find it that those two days I get to drive only 20 minutes to U#1 make it harder to have to drive for over an hour the next day. Somehow doing it every morning makes it more routine and, as such, a bit more acceptable. I'll go back to that next semester, but I'm not looking forward to it.

Maybe someday I'll work only at U#1. I sure hope so!

P.S. this afternoon my tele-teaching presentation was broadcast. I spoke too fast in the recording... the very first comment on the pre-recorded talk that people didn't know was pre-recorded, was a request for me to speak more slowly. Sigh... it's just that I had lots to say!

Home Alone...

... on a beautiful, windy day.

Sigh. I hope time will go by fast even though I'll be alone only for two days. Tomorrow I'll be away on the U#2 campus until night and on Thursday I will meet up with K at the university to go to a dinner that evening, but I won't see the boys until Thursday night. :(

I miss my sons a lot and I have missed them since we got home on Sunday night after leaving them with my brother-in-law's family. K and I enjoyed spending time with each other, after all, I barely saw him last week, but the house was strangely quiet and empty.

I need to prepare myself for an empty-nest in about 8 years because I don't want to miss the boys like crazy all my life. How can I avoid that? (My own mother has never gotten over us growing up and leaving and I feel so so sorry for her. It's a completely different story with K's family).

That's why I'm glad I'm working full-time again, so I can "have a life" besides being a mom. I just hope that I'm no longer "working in the margins" by the time I become an empty-nester. That would probably be tough.

I have tons and tons of things to do and yet here I am blogging. I just needed to get these thoughts out of my system... and I'm actually not very good at doing what needs to be done. :(

Keep your fingers crossed that I will (I need to GRADE!!! What else? ;)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Orchid in the Bathroom!

Where else but Longwood would you find a lovely orchid in the bathroom? :)

My Poor Boys! Or The Quick PA Trip Fiasco

It was only after we drove several hours to reach the greater Philadelphia area and we got out of the car when we arrived at our friends’ house that we found out the BIG mistake of our quick trip: in packing the car after he got home K had not packed the boys’ bags (which SADLY, in my hurry to get ready after K got there, I had forgotten to bring from their bedroom to the hallway). -->And that’s officially the longest sentence ever! ;-)

What a blunder!! My poor boys! Both only wearing t-shirts and thin sweatpants in freezing weather when they had each packed their bags by 3 pm and made sure that they had everything they needed. Of course they have their Sherpa lined hoodies and we had brought my youngest’s jacket and a zippered fleece for the oldest. They also have two pairs of shoes and one pair of slippers, but no other clothes.

It is only a two-day trip, but tomorrow afternoon we’ll drop them off with my brother-in-law’s family and they’ll stay with them until Thursday morning. My husband will get there on Tuesday and he can bring them clothes, but I think we’ll still have to buy some staples such as underwear, socks and maybe long winter underpants if we can find them.

And tomorrow I’ll ask my SIL to bring a change of clothes for my youngest for when we meet up (we’re going to a friend’s birthday party), since he’s the same size as his cousin.

Sigh. Last night he boys were pretty indignant, but I told them that someday we would certainly laugh at this situation. My 11 year old didn’t want to sleep on his clothes, so I had him wear my fleece pajama top and fleece leggings I have and I put one of my tighter long sleeve t-shirts on my youngest so he’d have warm arms during the night.

And now we’re going to Longwood Gardens in the snow… and wish us luck trying to sightsee in Philly in this weather! I knew about the bad weather, but I still needed to come in spite of it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

31 minutes left...

That's how many minutes my husband has to submit the grant he just spent a month and a crazed week working on.

I think he must have slept a maximum of 15 hours total between Monday and today and I talked to him for no more than 30 minutes total.

sigh... I hope he can do it! I think he will, but this is crazy insane and I hate it how we always have to be submitting things at the last minute, him and I. I have this looong post that I wrote describing the day we submitted my dissertation online and I'm thinking of posting it on the 5th year anniversary of the event. WOW. Five years.

I'm totally past my expiration date, am I not?


Edited to add: He submitted the application, but he didn't get an email saying that they had received it... so, he still doesn't know if it worked and he sent them an email. Sigh...

Chico Bento e os Papas (& the Popes)

Mauricio de Souza is the most famous comic book artist/writer and creator of Brazil. His comic books about Mônica, Cebolinha, Magali, Cascão, Chico Bento and their friends have been around for over 40 years.

He has a twitter account and a few days ago he tweeted this picture which is a joke that only people who know the name of the character will get: Chico Bento (Chico is the nickname for Francisco [Francis] and Bento is Benedict).
Chico Bento says (in his hillbilly/country bumpkin accent):
"I'm proud of my name!"
"I think the folks at the Vatican read my stories!"

And this guy called Renato Tourinho, shared this other cartoon on facebook in which Chico Bento is wondering what is going on (label: Exit Bento!! Enter Chico!!!)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Control Freak

The issue with the photos I blogged about earlier is definitely an issue of control.

I'm a bit... ok, a lot, of a control-freak. I can't really bear to not be in control and just let iphoto take care of my photos, I want to do it my way, which happens to be the way I've ever done it in PCs and which I felt I had lots of control over.

That's why I never really liked using the GPS very much. I always trusted my instincts about where to go much more than a machine that would be in control of where I drove. Now that I can have easier access to the directions and more control using the gps on the iphone, I like it and use it more. 


I think that this is one of the reasons why I hesitated switching from a PC to a Mac... it seems that Apple has an uncanny way to control your life and force you to use their products (that's why lots of people I know are pretty much anti-Apple), but yet, I really wanted to get the iphone, so I switched.

Anyway... one more of those issues that I would want to work in therapy, if I were to start seeing a therapist someday...

I Don't Want My Photos to Be Hostage to Apple and Lousy iPhoto!

I desperately need some feedback from former/current PC users who became or also are Mac users who like to look at their photos and organize them, or, at least, some sympathetic ears. ;-)

feel free to completely skip this post if you don't care for talk about the storage and management of digital photos. Boring stuff, I know.

(And Jo(e), I know you're a Mac user and an avid photographer, but maybe you never used a PC so you won't know what I'm complaining about. Sigh...)

I would be a relatively happy Mac "switcher" if it weren't for iPhoto and for the ways that Apple devices completely hijack my ability to simply view and sort through my photos and to back them up in regular external hard-drives which I paid good money for, but which it refuses to talk to. :(

Let's back track. Although I take tons of photos and I'm CRAZY for photos, I'm a plain Jane when it comes to digital photography (maybe that will make a difference in my narrative compared to those of you who are seasoned photo "processers," etc).

What I mean by that is that as a lifelong "plain" PC user, I have always disliked any photo management software that either came with the computer or even online ones such as Picasa (though I used Picasa begrudgingly to post online albums) so I never used them. I simply opened the files with photos in my cameras and cards and pasted them into files which were then organized by month, by year and also, within the year, by theme (e.g. my garden, cats).

Whenever I viewed my photos I always used the plain "windows explorer" (not the browser, I don't know the correct name) viewer that is standard on the PC. It would be the equivalent to Preview in the Macs, although it's WAY WAY WAY better because it let's me simply click the arrow to the next photos, something impossible to do with the Mac previewer -- one is always forced to go to iphoto (which I hate) to do anything with the photos.

Apart from having a hard time to merely view the photos in my MacBook, I don't like that my photos are "hidden away" in iPhoto and not immediately available for emailing (e.g. it's much harder to attach a photo to an email in the Mac) or viewing. If I save any photos to a "pictures" folder (e.g. when getting them from the internet or a friend) I have to import them to iphoto so I can properly view them because one can't really view photos on the "preview" window (only one by one).That's ridiculous!

The other problem is that my laptop refuses to talk to these external hard-drives I bought (one of them for 100 bucks!). How could I know that I needed to buy a special external hard-drive that would talk to Macs? And I can't even return the open device now, and I can't backup my photos, which is something I need to do to feel at peace. Sigh. (I know that the hard drive part is my fault because I should have researched, but then, again, one of the hard drives I already owned talked perfectly fine to my laptop, but one day they stopped talking, just like that. Sigh...).

I could go on and on about these and other issues, but I'll stop complaining and "publish" this post.

If photo taking and organizing weren't such a central part of my computer use, this wouldn't be an issue, but it IS a huge problem for me right now!!! And I have noticed that I take photos much more sparingly now that I feel that Apple has hijacked my photos forever. I feel truly depressed about all that. :(

Is there any hope for me? Is the only way out sucking it up and getting forcibly used to loathsome iphoto? I hope not!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam

With this simple sentence* from a friend on Facebook, I learned of the new pope, not even 10 minutes after white smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel.

She had the TV on thousands of miles away in Brazil posted to FB as soon as she saw the news... pretty cool! I think that this was the earliest I ever learned of a piece of news...

Now I'm watching NBC to find out who it is...

(and I couldn't come back to edit until now 3:34pm, picking up kids in school)

... WOW, a Jesuit from Argentina! My Brazilian friends on facebook weren't very excited (for those who don't know, there's great rivalry between Brazil & Argentina, particularly in soccer). ;)

I love the name Franciscus/Francisco (Francis), beautiful choice (after a lovely Saint too).

Congrats Spanish prof! :)

*minus the "m" -- I corrected my bad Latin after I looked at the CNN site ;-) -- I was forced to take two semesters of Latin in college in Brazil and I passed with my worst grades ever (C-/ D).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thank you Anastasia... and Anjali

Thank you Anastasia! Just what I needed right now. It makes me feel a lot better. And I miss you, I miss you lots. It's good to know that you're still around, reading our blogs. even tough...

...WHAT??? You're back?  :)

P.S. Your comment was lovely as well, Anjali, like I said in my other post, constructive criticism is always welcome!

P.S. II  I write these "meta-blogging" comment-like posts because I have never consistently responded to people in my comment section (I know... bad, but it's not like I get lots of comments, you know! If I did I'm sure we'd talk more in the comment section like it is in other blogs).

Now let me go read Anastasia! YAY! I hope it's not temporary (haven't read yet).

Rainy Days and Mondays...

I know that there are people who really enjoy rainy days (lucky you!), but I'm not one of them.

Some people get headaches and other yucky feelings when there's a low pressure system and I'm not one of them either, but still, rainy days always bring me down. I just want to go back to bed and stay there. Sigh...

This morning I already drove the boys to school and dropped off a cake for my son's teacher that I baked last night (and, BTW didn't really come out well... after taking hours to bake and basically burn, so frustrating), but I need to get in the car and drive to teach my class at U#1.

Gladly, U#2 is on Spring Break this week (so yesterday, even though it was a gorgeous sunny day, I did go back to bed as I wish I could do today). OK, let me try to think positive. It's just one class and then I meet with some friends and then I can come back home. And maybe... even crawl back into bed early? Nah... probably not! ;-)

Blistering Blatant Blunder, Batman!


I guess the past 24h have been a learning experience. Almost 8.5 years of blogging (and turning 40, boo!!!....) have been working their "magic" on me, though, and making me slightly thicker skinned. Just slightly, but when you've been oversensitive all your life, any little bit of extra skin helps a lot!

And, of course, I am the only one to blame anyway for blundering like that. I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I will think more before impulsively hitting the publish button, etc, etc.

Thanks again for speaking up. I mean, if you're even still here.

Lame post & silly title, I know. I kept writing that title in my head while driving today, couldn't resist the alliteration (and the imaginary original title had no ridiculous reference to the superhero -- which I don't like BTW -- it's just another one of those "impulsive" writing decisions, hopefully harmless this time). As for constantly blogging in my head... this blogging thing is an addiction that has taken hold of my brain. Sigh... Hopefully it's not a bad thing, though, if it can help me become a better person.

Edited to add:
P.S. the moment I hit publish, my husband finally walked in the door! YAY! He's working on a grant, so it'll be very lonely over here until he's done on Friday. Sigh.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thanks for the Perspective

I need to go to my sons' school and I'm already very late,  but I wanted to thank my friends Anjali and Jennie (no longer blogging) for their comments and their perspective -- I think that what I wrote was unnecessarily harsh and unfeeling. Constructive criticism is always welcome here.

And I edited my previous post too.

I should have read the magazine before, since it has this quote from Taylor Swift too (re. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler -- whom I really like, BTW): "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." Which is kind of like my previous post, I guess -- though pretty ironic to include here (since I don't necessarily agree with Swift), but... there you go.

Let's not pick up the "mommy wars" again, right? Thanks again.

The title of this post wasn't very nice...*

*I decided to edit this post and the title after three readers (see comments below and my next post) pointed out that it was quite offensive. (3/11/13)

I generally stand by my words, though I also apologize and can change easily. And unfortunately I often have reasons to regret my words because ADHD causes me to be very impulsive -- I'm getting better at this. In any case, here is the original title, which was a comment on Penelope Trunk's blog by this random guy (more below) and which piqued my interest: "There’s an old film about a kid who had a mother like Sheryl Sandberg. The first word in the movie? 'Rosebud'.”

I haven't read this week's Time magazine cover article yet. Because of my blogroll and Penelope Trunk's post, I knew what it was about even before I pulled it out of my mailbox tonight as we got back from a weekend trip.

I like what Penelope Trunk had to say about it and I can't wait for Laura's take on it too. But for me, what Steve Y. wrote on his comment to Trunk's post and that I cite above decided to use in its entirety as my blog post's title is pretty interesting regarding the effect on the children of parents (not just mothers, but parents in general)  who may not give their children the attention they need... which may not be the case with Sandberg, let's hope!

next paragraph deleted.

Maybe I'll have more to say after I read the article, maybe not.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

He's 11! The Best of Kelvin

When Kelvin turned five, I posted about his five favorite things and things I liked about him too. It's about time we do this again, six years later.

Eleven favorite things for Kelvin:
1. Food:  Fettuccine Alfredo.
2. Electronics: iPad Mini and computer.
3. iPad Games:  Air Tycoon 2, Jet Car Stunts and Doodle Jump.
4. TV show: Ninjago.
5. Things to do: eat, ripstick, read and do electronics.
6. Author: Rick Riordan.
7. Music performers: Coldplay & Adele.
8. Songs to play on the piano: "Don't Stop Believing" and his own compositions.
9. Friends: David F, Brandon, Manuel, Lucca, Stefan.
10. School subject: Math
11. Family Member: second cousin Kenny.

My favorite things about Kelvin:
1. How we laugh together.
2. He still lets me hug and kiss him a lot.
3. How he loves to play his own songs at the piano.
4. His curiosity and motivation to learn about things that interest him.
5. He can reads for hours and hours, just like his mama before him!
6. He's really skilled at the ripstick and also at skiing. (unlike mama)
7. He is a good friend.
8. He loves most of the food I cook.
9. His enthusiasm about life (i.e. "This is the best thing I've ever eaten!").
10. How smart he is with electronics and academically.
11. He is a loving and caring person.

I love you my son, thank you for being part of my life!!

March 09, 2002 4:14

My son Kelvin was born, precisely 11 years ago! I'll write more soon!

Friday, March 08, 2013

One Year Ago...

... we were in South Africa.
In Kruger Park.

I don't have many words to say about that. Just looking at these photos makes me speechless.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Greg & Rodrick

One more post brought to you thanks to the popularity of the "Wimpy/Degonflé/Banana Kid" at our house right now.

Earlier today my youngest son told me something that made me a little sad...

He remarked matter-of-factly that he feels like his life is similar to Greg's and that his brother acts like Rodrick sometimes.

I have only read snippets of these books, but the title and the cover of Rodrick Rules say it all:
What can parents do to deal better with sibling rivalry? My mom was telling me on one of our phone conversations last week that she has "video proof"(in the many home videos that she made of the boys over the years) of how harassed my youngest was by his older brother when he was little. Sigh...

I know sibling conflicts are normal and that birth order determines so much in our lives, but still, I feel a bit impotent before this situation (well, and many others too, to be frank). Why is it so hard to teach love, patience and compassion? Some people seem to have personalities that are more conducive to these qualities, others don't (and my oldest seems to be more of the latter, unfortunately). 

OK, let me stop here. I hardly ever share these stories and concerns... this is hardly a "mommy-blog" at times, but I feel compelled to do it from time to time. Do you have any thoughts to share about this?