Monday, September 30, 2013


It feels very ironic, but this afternoon we applied for a passport for my 11 year-old-son (he needs it to return from our trip to Brazil in Dec-January). If the government shuts down, there will be a delay to receive his passport. We have 2.5 months, but I still worry.

All of last week I was sick of hearing the news and today I was glad that our local NPR station was doing their fund-raising, so I didn't need to hear a whole lot about this ridiculous debacle.

On the other hand, last Friday I went to a meeting explaining the new health-care options for U#2 already anticipating the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It was an excellent and informative meeting which demonstrates how everyone is really preparing for this new LAW that Congress is trying to shut down. NPR also had lots of reports on the "navigators" that will be helping people in various cities and states to make informed decisions.

All right. Let's hope that this shutdown has "good" consequences (the only good I can think of is having an effect in the re-election of extremist politicians) and not only disastrous ones.


Productivity Continues

I know this great phase may end eventually. Maybe it's the weather that's just so gorgeous and still warm -- something that makes me oh, so happy -- but I'm truly enjoying the extra energy!

Yesterday, besides the grading, I did three loads of laundry, all of which dried outside (did I mention the great weather?) and I finally -- FINALLY! -- organized my sock drawer.

I know, most boring accomplishment ever, right? But you don't know how every single day of the summer I looked down at that horribly over-stuffed drawer and told my husband in a slightly whiny voice: "I need to tidy up my sock drawer! But I'm never gonna do it!"

Two days ago I had a great idea to solve my overstuffed sock drawer problem -- I decided to move all my thick stockings and pantyhose to a plastic drawer set in my closet. This was the same solution I had found for my overstuffed hair pins, clips, etc. box some time ago. I moved all the cloth and knit headbands to the closet drawer and... voilá, now I had space to store my (now very few) hair clips and things. So now I can buy more hair clips and socks! ;-)

I also made more marinara sauce which we ate with spaghetti & veggie ground "meat." And I put away my clothes that had been washed & dried (also outside) last Wednesday in addition to making the bed with comfy fresh-smelling sheets that had just dried outside!

Here's photographic evidence of the productivity will be included later. My memory card doesn't want to talk to my computer right now. :(

All Those Lost Photographs...

(ok, maybe I should say misplaced, because this is my hope, that they are merely misplaced, not really lost! ;-)

As you already know, I am a bit of a photo fanatic (huge understatement? :-D), and I have been for a long time. Years ago, back in 1995-6 when we were getting ready to leave Brazil I organized all our negatives and created a system to classify them (very easy: year+letters of the alphabet+photo pose number [according to the negative], e.g. 94A21). I wrote a number in the back of each photo and labeled all the negative sleeves.

I did that partly because our best friend wanted me to print out photos of the previous 6 years for him and I needed to get everything organized for that. When we moved I took all the photos from these small albums I had and put them in a box. Once we began taking photos of our life here in the U.S. I organized those in albums again, but I never took those old photos (from 1990 - 1996) from their box (only to put some in frames).

I always kept the box close by and periodically looked through the photos, especially when someone came to visit. However, since we moved from Pennsylvania back in 2010 that box has gone missing! We had a lot of things in storage in our garage from the day we moved (June 4, 2010) until we bought our new house and moved here (April 22, 2011), but when we unpacked I didn't find the photos!

I have been busy since then and only once in a while I think of my previous photos. I am on a mission to find them now and I'll keep you posted.

Worst case scenario? I will just have to print them all out again from those negatives I have all classified and stored. Too bad I'm very leery of the digital photo printing process and I wish they could be developed chemically, not digitally. :(  (that might be more expensive, though).

Let's hope I find them and don't have to go through the trouble and expense of developing hundreds of photos!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Compositions All Graded! On to the tests... :(

Grading those compositions did take forever! And to make matters worse, the last two I graded were the ones with the most problems... :(

In the end, I graded 3 on Thursday night, 2 more on Friday morning, another on Saturday night and the last 3 today. Nearly half an hour spent per paper (more on the last two). Mind-numbingly boring. Sigh...

Now I have to move on to the tests. Sigh... Good thing I had a productive day otherwise (more on that later). Now back to work!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Only 3/9 so far (Grading Progress)

I tried to stay up late to grade those compositions last night, but I was falling asleep in front of the computer! :-(

The good thing is that the first two I read were amazingly excellent in terms of structure, development, organization and ideas, so I only had to correct language issues* YAY! No need to criticize much, just to write "excellent!" "perfect!"
     *concordance, word choice, gender, etc. and in spite of their essays' great qualities, there were plenty of small problems for these two amazing students.

That's why I got stuck in the 3rd paper -- the 3 aspects analyzed in this descriptive/comparative composition (comparing 2 films) were not listed in the introduction, parts of the intro were choppy and didn't covey much (were vague), etc.. And I know that this student is really stressed out about her work and will be asking for justification for each mistake. So... it'll be EXHAUSTING to finish grading it. Sigh...

This "judgy" side of the job is tough (and also being judged when submitting articles for publication, [Dr. Crazy's post about peer review explains the process well]). As Jo(e) well put it in her comment to my previous post, it's hard to conciliate being supportive of students with being "tough" with them while evaluating their writing so they can get better at it. (sigh...)

It's really weird how my own issues (of having a really hard, horrible time being evaluated & getting feedback -- I cannot stomach reading student evals, for example) end up making grading essays and commenting on them so hard for me. Sigh...

But I have to go and do it, I only have about 2 hours to finish before I have to drive to U#2...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Help! I've got another acute case of Too-Much-to-Grade Syndrome!


I've been doing a pretty good job keeping up, but I think this time I'm stuck with a weekend overshadowed by grading. Why in the world did I schedule a test (4 pages long! nearly 40 students) on a Thursday? :-)  Oh, and today my students also had quizzes at U#1 and I have two quizzes and a test from U#3 to grade (they were scanned and emailed to me, but I didn't get them printed out until last Tuesday, and today).

In any case, last week I had even more stuff to grade, but it was all on Tuesday and I miraculously managed to grade it all by Wednesday & Thursday. So... a free weekend!

In fact, I would gladly grade those tests tonight, if it were not for the "small detail" that I have nine 3 page compositions to grade. It's the first draft, so I need to make TONS of comments. And I am annotating those electronically. Sigh...

And they HAVE to be done by tonight because students are turning in the final draft next Tuesday.

So... I've got to go and grade!! NOW!!! I'll be back later to report on my progress.

P.S. If there's one small silly thing that would totally be a big plus of continuing to teach basic language classes for the rest of my life it is how easy the grading is. Grading essays is SOOOOO BORING! And time consuming versus grading a pile of language tests or exams. The worst part for me is really writing good comments that "justify" my grade. Rubrics help, but just slightly. I think therapy (for me!) might help -- I hate to be judged, evaluated, criticized, so I can't stand doing it to others. It's painful!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ultra Energized, though not for long :(

I think it must be hormonal, but I've never really paid much attention* before to this coming and going, ebbing and flowing of energy and good mood.

Right now I hardly ever feel tired, even if I didn't sleep that many hours, and I actually feel very alert and even-keeled. I like to feel so stable and content because I do have a pretty stable mood in general, but sometimes I get whiny and angsty as you know from my posts once in a while. I especially like the extra energy, though!

So I've been productive and enjoying it while it lasts. This evening, from 7-10 pm I made vegetable stock from scratch, cooked 2 kinds of beans to freeze for soup (cheaper and healthier than canned!) and made a huge pot of tomato sauce (after peeling all tomatoes, mincing and sautéeing onions and pressed garlic). I also made some rice and seasoned the cooked beans.

Yesterday I came home pretty late and K had already cooked rice (in the rice cooker) and defrosted a lentil dish, and I put away all the groceries and farmer's market produce I bought and prepared a large pan of fried okra and cooked pumpkin. Oh, and this morning before leaving I did two loads of laundry that K hung on the line later.

I'm not looking forward to sluggish me! :(  I don't like to arrive home and so feel tired and morose that I don't want to cook, just lay down or sit with a good book. I know it's coming, though, it's just a matter of days or weeks -- I kind of wish I knew when the changes are going to take place, but I just don't! Sigh...

I know I had more things to say about this subject, but now it has all fled my brain. I'll edit this post if I remember! Now I need to go to bed. In fact, the weirdest thing for me is how I've been waking up before the alarm every morning and having more energy in the morning (I'm mostly a night person otherwise). I'll let you know when the tide changes!

*I've always had extremely irregular cycles, so I never know when I'm PMSing or something, I generally realize it after the fact. I don't mind this unpredictability, that's the way I've always been, but I feel dumb for only realizing it in retrospect. I think this is the first time I'm consciously paying attention to my energy levels and mood and attempting to record something.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The New Semester

(started on 09/02 -- additions are in italics)

I don't ever make resolutions and I don't like them at all (I don't like to set myself up for failure, remember?!), but I thought that Anastasia's "Propositions for a new school year" post was really good.

The semester started a month ago exactly today, BUT...

If I were to have any propositions for this new school year they would be:

1. "Be more positive" (something my eldest son often says to me when we're playing a game and I begin to whine that I'm doing really bad);

2. Grade in a more timely manner, try as much as possible not to let it accumulate; (so far I'm doing GREAT in this aspect! YAY! I hope I can keep going)

3. Have a good relationship with new colleague (the tenure track hire) and try to have a new attitude towards his job (did I really want it? Not really, it's way too stressful). 

4. Try to be less angsty about academia in general. Make a decision to be happy and more positive (which won't preclude being critical and analytical). 

5. Be an even better teacher to my students. Prepare better to teach, help them learn.

6. FFFF: Continue putting family, friends and (sometimes!) fun first instead of work (that's why I need to convince myself that a TT job is NOT for me).

7. In spite of that last item. MAYBE, just MAYBE, try to send something out for publication and try to to go a conference! ;-)

OK, that's enough for now, isn't it?

P.S. a good strategy to posting more is to salvage posts from the draft folder!! :)

83 posts

Another meta-blogging post from the blogger who loves to talk/think/write about blogging. ;-)

I'm just writing this to debate (with myself) whether I should try to write 83 more posts in order to pass last year's count of 247 posts...

The thing is, I try to avoid to set myself up for failure at all costs!

(except in the case of the 365 project blog thingy, I never managed to do it, but I do have my own reasons, including wanting to share too many photos & being perfectionist in this respect).

It's part and parcel of being a realist or, as some would prefer, a "realistic pessimist."

I am planning to write every single day in November again, so that would be 30 posts... then there's all of October and December. I am hoping that we have internet access in "paradise"-- the Brazilian version (photos at the end of that post), or else it'll be sad not to blog the end of the year, but I think we will.

OK, let's continue with the math, after those 30 posts I'd still have to write 53 more!! Wow, that's a lot.

As in past years I guess I'll just blog as often as I can deliberately from now on and there's a good chance that I'll reach this "silly" goal of mine!

I was going to post a pretty photo to offset the boring meta-post, but... I haven't been taking ANY photos lately and I don't have any recent pretty flower photos. :-( I will have to rectify that ASAP!

Yesterday I wrote three posts!

I meant to write one more, like this one, to celebrate the fact that my first one worked wonders in getting me unblocked and going, so I could finish the post about going to the doctor and finally remember to write about our car inspection!

There are many other lose ends to tie, so I hope to be able to blog again soon! YAY!

P.S. and I wrote this "meta-blogging" post in case you missed the other ones. ;-) I like to spread my blogging out, but sometimes "when it rains it pours." Oh, and I don't know if I'll be able to keep my goal of posting more than the year before, but I'm OK if it doesn't work out. Most everything else in life is more important than blogging (though it is very important to me!).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

All Doctored Up!

I haven't had a "primary care provider" (PCP) or family doctor in over 3 years (ever since we moved from PA) and this year one of our goals was to finally choose a doctor.

My husband went online, looked at reviews and decided on a particular family doctor. He had his appointment last May, he liked the doctor a lot and thought he was very thorough. It turns out that the doctor is married to a Brazilian woman! (which was just an interesting coincidence, not correlated with the doctor's quality). ;-)

The problem with this practice is that they only see one new patient a day and once I decided to make the appointment they only had openings for October or November. I did go to an OB-GYN in July to get my annual exam (three years overdue in this case), but if I ever get sick with anything else not "gyn" related I need to have another doctor (and I also have other concerns to discuss with a PCP).

Last week K went to another doctor in the same practice and asked the receptionist about making an appointment for me. Luckily, someone had cancelled and they had a slot this past Friday! The problem is that it was at 9:30 am and I taught at 11 am (1h away), so I had to email some of my students a contingency plan in case I didn't get there on time.

Everything was going well and the visit was almost over at 9:46, but then the doctor had a phone call and I waited for over 15 minutes in the room, so I was slightly late.

The visit was short but productive and as a result I will see three more doctors! He agreed with me that it's a good idea to see a dermatologist just to check my numerous moles since my dad had several cases of skin cancer. I also have this small "cyst" that is growing on my left palm and he said that I should see another doctor who will take care of it. Last, but not least, I'll see a GI doctor because of my history of colon problems in the family & my IBS.

So I'm all doctored up now! ;-) And it feels good to know that if I get sick I now have a doctor I can see (K had to go back to him when he had a really bad case of poison sumac/ivy back in June). I do hope I don't have to go back until next year!!

The light that temporarily (and "magically") turned off!

I keep forgetting to tell you what happened to our car inspection situation a couple of weeks ago!

K ended up taking the car to the Hyundai dealership and this didn't help at all because the car was made in Canada and they can't do anything about it (they did plug the car to their computer & stuff). After he drove off the light turned off momentarily, but came back on.

As he told me this on the phone as I was driving back from U#2 to U#1 on our minivan to teach (I was SOOOO thankful that I had air conditioning because it was a really hot day!) I remembered what my friend whose husband sold us the car last July had told me.

They got the car inspected before they sold it to us because they knew about this problem. Carol told me that Marc had taken the car to the dealership and the light had turned off and that he then had it quickly inspected (he drove from the dealership straight to the inspection place).

When I got home after teaching K shared the good news with me -- I could go back to driving the car because it now had a good inspection sticker! It turns out that when he started driving back home from work the light was off, so he drove straight to the inspection garage, told them that he'd taken the car to the dealership and that the light was off (unrelated facts, but both true!) so they checked it and put the new sticker!

Phew! That was a close call. And we have a year until the next inspection to decide what to do. The problem is certainly because of an electric wire and a faulty connection and it may be pretty difficult (long hours) to fix. We'll see, right now we don't have to worry about it anymore for a while!

Sometimes I feel like...

... watching a movie, but it's just so hard, it  hardly ever happens!

And, to be frank, I feel like doing this only once in a while, but when I do I'm generally busy with other things, it's not a good day, my husband doesn't feel like it, etc.

P.S. All right, this is a super-short "throwaway post" because I've been trying to blog since Friday (and I have several things to talk about), but I just don't get to it. So it's easiest to just write a post that is about two sentences long to see if my "blogger's block" goes away!).

P.S. 2 Maybe it would be a smart idea to write a post with a list of movies I'd like to see & try to motivate myself to do it!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Macaron Rainbow - I love Trader Joe's!

Two weeks ago these yummy treats from France made my day and today I bought some more so I can enjoy them on my long drive back home. Thank you so much Trader Joe's!
Edited to add one more photo, they're so pretty inside! 

Crazy Driving Day & Overnight Stay

Yesterday was one of my two über-packed days every week -- on Tu/Th I teach all my 5 classes, at two universities [three if you count the tele-conference students], totaling about 7 class periods since 3 of the classes are 75 minutes long -- and in addition to all that I'd been invited for a dinner for Brazilian students at U#2.

Therefore... I drove to U#2 from home in the morning (76 miles!), then from U#2 to U#1 (about 50 miles), and then back to U#2... sigh.

The dinner was nice and I met many Brazilian exchange, graduate and undergraduate students and I hope I can keep in touch with them -- I wish I lived here and didn't just commute and had to go back home every day, so I could spend more time with these new friends.

Because of the dinner I stayed overnight at a friend's house. She is a department colleague who moved here last year and I just love spending time with her. We talk non-stop and she's one of the few people with whom I share all my "Academia Angst." We discuss these issues a lot since her story is much worse than mine -- she was denied tenure at the country's Northernmost Ivy-league institution several years ago. They moved here because her husband was hired as a librarian here last Spring and I'm so thrilled to have them as friends.

OK, I have to go get ready to leave their house so I can teach at 11! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vision Therapy Has Ended

Five thousand dollars and nearly a year later (technically 7 months, but with several breaks it stretched out a bit longer) my youngest son has been "released" from vision therapy.

You may (or may not) recall that back in 2010 we finally took him to the optometrist (at 6 years old -- our fault) and realized that one of his eyes had really poor vision and didn't see at all (suppression & amblyopia or lazy eye).

After a year and a half of patching (and a wrong prescription that made us waste 70 dollars on a pair of spare glasses) we switched doctors and then, last March, had him evaluated by a vision therapist who recommended therapy, so we started it in September, after coming back from Brazil last year.

His eye can see way better and it's almost 20/20 now, but there is some suppression still going on, especially when he tries to focus on something far. The doctor says that contact lenses would help with the binocularity and making the left eye work better (because the good right eye takes over, basically). We'll see if our optometrist can help with that. Apparently 9 years old is not too young for contacts, if it's done well (with lots of patience).

His therapist (the woman who actually works with him) thought he should keep going a while longer, but the doctor who owns the practice released him. The super-tall and pretty young lady was sad to see our son go, so she told him:

"I hope you can come back, maybe you can have other vision troubles."

My son didn't miss a beat and retorted: "And we'd pay another 5 thousand dollars?" (like -- are you crazy? We're not doing this again!).

The adults in the room (there was another lady with her son) laughed slightly nervously, but that was the truth, we paid way too much for what had been done (and part of me wanted him to continue, but the doctor doesn't think it would help). He will see my son in 6 months again, so we'll probably see the young therapist again at that time.

They gave him a Target gift certificate to celebrate the end of his months of therapy. It was only 5 dollars, so dad helped him buy a small Ninjago Lego set. He was beyond thrilled that he no longer need to do therapy at home or come to weekly sessions (we drive nearly an hour each way).

I am glad that his vision improved so much, I just wish it hadn't cost so much! (insurance doesn't cover it) Now we need to take to the optometrist because his last visit was a year ago. I'm sure he'll be surprised to see such improvement! And maybe my little one will wear contact lenses at some point (he's not too excited about that). I'll keep you posted!

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Absent Minded-Driver

I drove "my" car* for two weeks without noticing that the inspection sticker on the middle of the windshield was WAY expired with a big "7" (July!) in the middle. So today I drove the van to work & K took the car for inspection. Lucky me that I didn't get pulled over and fined for that one, huh?
   * we don't really do this "my car" & "your car"thing  in our family, but for all purposes I use the smaller & more economic car for my super commute and my husband drives the old minivan

Well, it turns out that now we have a big R in our windshield and we need to repair the airbag sensor or something related to it because the airbag light is on. Boooo! :-(

And our trusty mechanic cannot see the car for an evaluation until Wednesday next week. Same thing with the guy at the garage at the end of our street. Sigh... We don't want to pay through the nose, so we can't take it to the dealership.

We do have two weeks to get it fixed, but I guess I'll have to drive the Odyssey to work everyday until then (and spend double on gas) or risk being stopped because of the "R." I think it's best to risk it than to waste the money on gas.

Oh well... what can we do. These annoying things are part of life. I can't wait to afford newer cars, though. CAN'T WAIT!!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

from Chattanooga, TN

We're in Chattanooga, TN for a (church related) conference and thanks to some friends that we have 30 minutes outside of the city and who agreed to have our sons for the day today K & I are enjoying the conference on our own. Last night the boys just stayed in the hotel room while we were downstairs listening to the talks and tomorrow morning we'll do the same.

Just thought I'd let you know what we've been up to this weekend. I didn't take any photos yet. Maybe tomorrow. :)

Friday, September 06, 2013

2013's Only Blogger-Meet-Up

No summer is complete without a blogger meet-up, right?

Well... It took me literally months (ok, one month!) to blog about it, but I did have a lovely-but-way-too-short meet-up with blogger (or almost former blogger) Sarah Sometimes!!!

We didn't take a photo, (we could have, but I was thinking I wouldn't have posted it anyway, so why bother! ;-) but coincidentally we were both wearing black & white skirts & black blouses (not 100% about her blouse, but I think so).

And we talked about our lives, families, and work, her move upstate, and about Jo(e) & her family and her canoeing trip. We had a simple kid-food picnic sitting at a bench in a park and I wish we'd had more time!

K said that we're not going back to that city again, but maybe we can meet again somewhere close by (together with Jo(e)? That'd be nice!).

I drove by very closely to where several other blogging (or former blogging) friends  live, but I didn't have a lot of time, so I decided not to contact them.  Oh, and of course I was where she lives and I was all... oh, I hope I could talk to her!

Blogger-meet-up wish for next year: meeting Jamie & family. Maybe we'll go to your neck of the woods, friend! Oh, and B*, I want to meet her!!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

True Museum Buffs! 14/20 of the World's 20 Most Visited Museums!

Today CNN published a list of the world's 20 most visited museums and my husband emailed me all excited that we'd visited almost all of them!

We've been to 9 out of the top 10 and 14 of the total 20.

Of the ones we didn't visit 2 are in London (Science & Natural History), 3 in China and 1 in Korea: needless to say, we've never been to China or Korea or we might have visited those too. ;-) And our 6 days in London back in 2001 were insufficient to visit all 5 of the London museums included in the list! :-)

Of course we've visited dozens more that aren't on the list, but we did realize one thing: after the boys were born we have visited very few museums. :-(  I hope we can resume that practice soon!

So, we've been to:
- the Louvre (Paris)
- the National Museum of Natural History (D.C.)
- the National Air & Space Museum (D.C.)
- the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC)
- the British Museum (London)
- the Tate Modern (London)
- the National Gallery (London)
- the Vatican Museum (& Sistine Chapel)
- the American Museum of Natural History (NYC)
- the National Museum of American History (D.C.)
- the National Gallery of Art (D.C.)
- the Centre Pompidou (Paris)
- the Musée D'Orsay (Paris)
- the Victoria & Albert Museum (London)

Those and the many many other museums, churches & landmarks we visited in Europe back in 2000 consisted of most of my bucket list. It was awesome to be you're able to visit most of my dreamed of locations before turning 30 (I'd already had my b-day when we went to London, though ;-)

17 Years in Limbo & Counting

This afternoon I thought* long and hard about my life and all my continuing angst about work and I realized something very sad.

I am still in "limbo." Still "in-between," in-translation, in process. Still on the way, just don't know where...

And I thought, for the first time in this (relatively) long journey, that maybe I should simply quit. But how?

What else could I do?


My husband was saying last spring, sighing with satisfaction, that our lives were finally good and that one of the main reasons -- he had realized -- is that now we finally had "stable jobs." (insert sarcastic smirk from me here. Ha. ha. ha, very funny).

Working two jobs (as full-time lecturer in one place and adjuncting a couple of classes at another) did provide me with the most money I've ever made in my entire 42 years of life (around the same as my lived years multiplied by 1K) and brought more comfort and stability to my family, there's no denying that. But my marginal "jobs" still keep me in a limbo with no end in sight.

The issue here is not that I necessarily "want" a tenure-track job, but I want (and NEED!!) a job that pays decently (my yearly lecturer contract doesn't & my semesterly adjuncting gig is miserable) and in which I will have some stability so I know what to expect for several years to come.

And frankly, teaching language for the rest of my life is not what I want to do. Even if I do become a "senior lecturer" with 3 year contracts and decent pay (something that happened with 3 of my friends at U#2 last year. Good for them!). And especially now that I'm about to have to use someone else's syllabus, assignments, tests, etc. That feels very "University of Phoenix" to me and we all know how that did NOT work out for me. (and yet, that's how my 3 friends work at U#2, one of them with a phd and a former tt job at an Ivy League school -- having to work using junior faculty produced materials**).

Yes, part of what triggered this post was receiving an assignment for my class from the junior faculty who is my "boss" this evening. But it's not my main motivation. I really need to address the issue of being in "limbo."

Right now, there's not much that I can do. I wouldn't know what else to do with my life but teach. Teaching high-school is not something I'd want to do. I do enjoy working with college kids.

I know things will work out. Deep down I know that. I'm constantly praying about it and surrendering it and asking for strength to be more submissive and less rebellious and even "conceited."

I just hope I don't have to be in a limbo work-wise for the rest of my life. Because that would be tough.

If you've made it this far, thanks for listening. Blogging as cheap therapy did do a fantastic job this evening, I must say! :)

P.S. In spite of all the angst, and all the driving I have to do every single day, I am thankful that I have a job, however "marginal" it may be. It is still a blessing and a big help for my family. I don't want to be ungrateful.

* I think too much. I found out in the past year, to my utter surprise, that I am actually an introvert. I never imagined that, but yes, I am! I'd like to blog about that at some point, I hope I'll get around to it.

** Do any of you have that in your universities? Grad students, adjuncts and/or lecturers having to use syllabi and course materials already prepared for them? That wasn't the case when I was a grad student. They trusted us. We were prepared to teach our own classes. But it wasn't a language department. Maybe it's different in language departments and maybe it makes perfect sense and I am the swhiny jerk here. I will admit that.

The MLA Job Info List Access is Now Free...

... so now I can see all the jobs that maybe I could think of applying to and/or fantasize about having, but which I never will.

Ha ha.

For those of you out there not in languages, literatures, cultures/humanities, access to the job list -- the main concentration of job listings in our subject areas -- used to be restricted to MLA [Modern Language Association] members or to people whose departments gave them a username and password to enter (this was my case until I finished the PhD back in 2008).

Now they've opened access to non-members. I have only been an MLA member on years I went to the convention -- 1999, 2004, 2006: the only time I actually presented. I just can't afford being a member of my preferred professional associations and only do that when I decide that I'll go to the national conference (when it is in a location where I have free lodging at a friend or relative's place).

P.S. when I re-read yesterday's "Grading"post I noticed that the "rant" in the second part of the post gets a bit "lost" because it's subject is slightly unrelated to the beginning of the post. I suppose that's s good thing. I'm sure you're tired of hearing me say the same things over and over again. Good thing I at least have photos of pretty flowers to break up the tedious series of job-related angst posts. ;-)

Let the Grading Begin! :(

For four months grading will be the central thing in my life and the one thing that I will always be thinking of, probably with guilt instead of relief.

I wish I could be more firm about just doing it and feeling the relief more often. Sigh...

I already have nearly 40 quizzes and 40 exams to grade. The biggest disadvantage of teaching language (as opposed to literature & culture, then it's mostly paper and classes tend to be smaller in size) and, consequently, a big disadvantage of being an adjunct or lecturer versus a full-fledged "professor."

And the angst continues, day in, day out. I wish it would just go away, but it doesn't. So I have to keep on blogging about it. (I am mostly happy with the work & students, etc, but still angsty).

I am always keenly aware of my position in the margins of academia. I wish I could feel more at peace about it.

Someday, perhaps. One can hope.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

It is Impossible to Take a Bad Photo of Lotus Flowers (and foxes! ;-)

Maybe I had seen lotus flowers before last August in the Montreal Botanical Gardens, but I sure don't remember it. And I think I would have remembered because I was absolutely was entranced by them!
(and by the beautiful foxes lounging close to them in the Chinese Imperial Garden)

So I switched to my zoom lens and a few minutes later I had to bear the wrath of my husband for "taking so long" to photograph flowers. Sigh...

It turns out I didn't take enough photos. They are beautiful, but I wish I had more.

Without further ado... a selection of my photographs of lotus flowers (with bonus fox!):

Monday, September 02, 2013

Many birds, 8 species

This morning, I was reading a chapter of a wonderful book titled Celebration of Discipline. The chapter was about silence, and the need to "let our words be few." So I know I shouldn't be writing this post, because it's precisely the kind of "speaking" and reacting that the spiritual discipline of silence warns against. But I'm going to do it anyway. I know, very sad... I guess blogging goes against a lot of these disciplines to begin with. Sigh...

I received an anonymous comment in my Montreal Mosaicultures post today half-amusedly demonstrating that I'm very bad at counting. I know where this well-meaning person is coming from because I also have the annoying habit of correcting people, often publicly (like in Facebook!) -- I know it's bad and it's pretty irresistible, but I hope to work on that in the future. Especially after having experienced first-hand the effects of "know-it-all-ism." I suffer from that disease too (that's why I'm writing this post). Sigh...

In any case, thanks for taking the time to count the birds at the magnificent Tree of Birds (see a couple* more incredible photos here).
* a couple of photos the tree, there are more than two photos in that article, of course

When I wrote about 8 birds in my post I meant eight species of birds, which is what I learned from this sign describing them (I only photographed the English descriptions, but I'm pretty sure there were just eight species of birds). I tried googling to find more info, but my search didn't yield much, so I resort to my own photographs.
4 one one side:
And , and 4 more on the other side of the sign:
A close up on the Brazilian and the Trinidadian birds:
Another Brazilian bird:
 And the last Brazilian one:
They portrayed several birds of each species in the tree, not just one of each. I found the stories to be very moving and I thought that it will be sad when these birds, like so many other species of animals in the planet, become extinct. :(

100 to Go (Counting this One)

For a few years now I have set one and only "blogging goal" each year: to write at least one more blog post than I did the year before.

100 posts from now (including this one) I will have reached this goal for 2013.

I think I can do it, but given how tired I've been at the end of the day after teaching, and it's been less than a week, I think it won't be easy.

I never lack things to say, but having the time to actually do it is the challenge. As always, I wish I could actually write decent blog posts, but I simply can't. If all I did was strive for good, well written content here I'd just never write because I don't have the time. Sigh...

So... yeah, I just thought I'd say that for the record. ;-)