Saturday, November 30, 2013

To-Do List

OK, so it'll be very useful if I make a to-do list to help me with the crazy next two weeks:
I will probably edit it later, and try to cross-out items
Trip related:
- Buy extra suitcases, and stuff that people asked me to take to Brazil;
- buy items needed for trip;
- Pack luggage;
- plan trip to airport (where to leave car); 

Teaching related:
- order books for next semester's lit class online in Brazil
- finish elaborating final exams
- administer and grade last tests and exams
- administer oral exams & final and grade them
- enter final grades

House related:
- arrange with people to take care of cats while we're gone;

Same old, same old. Travel is so extremely stressful! I think the stress is proportionate to the fun we're going to have on the trip, unfortunately! :-(

I'll keep you posted of our progress!

Crazy Two Weeks and a Half!

I have less than two weeks and a half (less than 18 days) to prepare for our trip to Brazil.

And these trips will be the most intense of this semester. Exams, oral and written, final exams (TONS of grading), trips back and forth. Packing. Children's year-end activities. Christmas live, outdoor "theater" event with church.

CRAZY! And I want to help my mother-in-law to make two special photo books for the great-grandmothers (hence the photos of the previous post).

Sigh... I don't know if these books will get made, which will be pretty sad, but we'll see! Wish me luck! Thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

The Missing Grandparent

My mother-in-law took photos of some old pictures of her mother, so we were able to have a rare glimpse of my MIL's dad, who died in a tragic car accident when she was only 10 years old, back in 1961 or 62.

Here he is:
I think my husband looks quite a bit like him. It is sad to have such a gaping hole in a family's past! Maybe sometime I will share more of K's family history.

P.S. I was a minute late for this post, so I'm adjusting the date of this and the next two posts. ;-)

Four posts in four minutes?

I wanted to write 30 posts in November, but in order to do that I need to write 4 posts in the next few minutes... we'll see about that. :)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 -- 11 Years with BIL's Family...

... and maybe the last year for a while.

In 2002 & 2003, our first two Thanksgiving Days together, K2 technically didn't have a family, it was just him and D, but in 2004 two little boys, our own L, and their little D joined the family (and made them a family).

In addition, for three years in a row, 2002-2004, we drove all the way to Michigan (from Massachusetts twice and once from Pennsylvania) to be with K2 & D. Thankfully they moved closer to us and in 2005 we had the first of two Thanksgiving celebrations at our house in PA (I posted recipes in 2006).

From 2007 on (nice photos here, as well as a holiday recap), the celebrations were held at their house, for seven years in a row! 2008 was the seventh year, and 2009 was the last year with my in-laws living here, too bad we had a Thanksgiving "Grinch" for a neighbor! :(

2010 was the only year we "cheated" and went to Florida for Thanksgiving, but we came back to spend time with family over the weekend. The following year was spent with another family visiting K3's house and in 2012 the holiday was low key, but still nice.

This year was great! We had great food (maybe more on that later), 14 people, since K4, the youngest brother, drove from Montreal, and it was lovely to spend this day with those we love. We will miss them A LOT, particularly on Thanksgiving, when they move to Egypt, but I'm sure they will have a good experience there!

I'm falling asleep on the computer, so I have to go to bed. I'm glad I decided not to do any more shopping on "Black Friday" (or Thursday night) -- I only went to one store briefly this evening with my eldest son.

How was your Thanksgiving this year? 

(Almost) Home for the Holidays

started on Wednesday 11/27
As I was driving yesterday evening, I wrote multiple blog posts in my head,* but this is the one I planned to write as soon as I got home -- too bad I didn't have time to do it!

When I finally arrived past 6 pm and I unloaded the car in pouring rain** by myself (I had gone shopping) K had arrived from his conference already (YAY!), but I couldn't sit down and enjoy a cozy home because had to cook some soup for our family, his parents & my nephews.

So... now that they've left for K2's house (my husband's younger brother), we are enjoying some relaxation, in spite of the fact that I still have a lot to cook for tomorrow.

continued on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 11/28
I titled the post "almost home" for two reasons, I was arriving home (on Tuesday evening), but we weren't going to spend the holiday home, but going to my brother-in-law's house (we drove this morning). If K4 (K's youngest brother) and family weren't coming from Canada, we would have spent Thanksgiving at our house, but they are (we're still waiting for their arrival).

We're more than happy to come to their house, though, because this is likely to be the last of our eleven Thanksgivings together (except for 2010 when we arrived from Florida to spend the weekend). We even made a video to celebrate all these years, but we haven't showed it to them yet. Let me know if you want to see it. :)

* most full of job-related angst -- I'll probably write them sooner or later.
** because of that, the storm door ended up staying propped open all night. :( Not good for the heating bill!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kind of sad

But not really much... (And I was going to write "kinda" & thought it wouldn't be vey proper... Sigh...)

I'm missing my kids' Thanksging program right now, but I should actually be happy & relieved that my in-laws made it! With my nephews too! And I am, but I feel kind of sad that as long as I work here I won't be able to attend... :-( 

I miss K as well, but he'll be back tomorrow night,3 days isn't long...

My latest worry is the leaves in the backyard & the foul weather that's coming... I did plant the bulbs late afternoon on Saturday!!!!

But now I have to concentrate on the drive back (I'm walking to the car) & I need to decide what to do about the fact I haven't yet eaten today... Sigh...

Friday, November 22, 2013

120 Minutes Driving, 100 Minutes Teaching

That's My life, every Monday and Friday! On Wednesdays I have office hours to add to he mix. :-(

All I wanted was to stay home and to plant bulbs!

But I had to drive to work instead... :-(

I don't have any free time during the day to do anything out in the yard and that's really bothering me. 

A least in the Spring I will have Tu/Th mornings till 2 pm if I want! The problem is that if I want to see more of these:
I need to plant the bulbs I purchased NOW!

Maybe his afternoon I can try to do as much as possible before it gets dark. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Four Boys from Liverpool

I'm not very familiar with the Beatles (though I do enjoy the music I know*), but I have known for a while that my mom wanted to own some of their "Ballads" and I want to surprise her with them for Christmas. I think that she wants to be brought back to her teen years and I'm more than happy to help her! (My parents don't own a lot of music, just some classical and religious stuff).

How could I figure out which are their "ballads" as opposed to their other songs when I'm not very familiar with their catalog, though? So with the help of Wikipedia I looked at the tracklist of this double compilation album, listened to part of all the tracks on YouTube. Then I bought the 1 CD (used, with free shipping for 4 bucks!) because it had four of the "ballads" plus many other big hits. Then I bought six other tracks on iTunes - links to YouTube videos if you feel like listening to these ("Across the Universe", "All My Loving", "And I Love Her", "Michelle", "Here, There and Everywhere", "Here comes the Sun"), so hopefully I'm all set!

I'm just wondering whether it will be possible to burn the iTunes tracks onto a CD so my mom can play them?? Is anyone familiar with that? (I may need to ask my sister- & brother-in-law). I've googled it and didn't get a clear answer. I hope it works! One thing we should probably give my mom is an iPad or at least an iPod. If I can't burn a CD I can at least download iTunes and teach her to use it in her computer.

I LOVE to plan and to buy presents for people! (at least for people I'm close to and know what to give ;-) I already bought gifts for my brother's wife, my nephew & my mom and I'm planning what to buy for my brother. For my dad it's harder, we'll see about that.

* Not so much the one album I own, Love, a compilation prepared for the Cirque Du Soléil spectacle of the same name which K brought for me from London back in 2008 -- he wanted to buy something with "local flavor." :)

Interestingly, the best introduction to the Beatles that I've had/heard (apart from being tired of listening the standards "Yesterday," "Hey Jude" and others) is an album by a Brazilian singer/songwriter named Rita Lee. The album (Aqui, Ali em Qualquer lugar in Portuguese) was weirdly titled Bossa N Beatles)

Doctors & Lunch Date! (with Bonus Nap!!)

Today I had not one, but TWO doctor's appointments with teaching at U#2 in between (Hello Daily 152 mile commute! NPR had a piece on mega-commuters & political engagement yesterday -- K was saying that they forgot to mention poor but highly educated people as a category ;-)

Because of the second appointment at 3 pm (first was at 8:45) I cancelled my office hours and then drove as fast as I could so K & I could go! on! a! RARE! Lunch date! I know, annoying exclamation marks... It's just that such a rare event leaves me almost giddy with excitement! ;-)

During the lovely Indian buffet lunch we had a good idea that may help our in-laws next week. We offered to host the Thanksgiving meal since they are busy working and trying to get ready for their life-changing upcoming move to Egypt. (They still don't have a date, but are preparing because a container will be shipped with their stuff).

The doctors' visits were quick and objective. The first one was with a plastic surgeon (crazy, huh? yes, I know!) so he could take a look at this cyst that is growing on my left palm. Since it doesn't hurt, the best course of action is to leave it alone. The second visit was with a nurse practitioner (I think! or a brand new doctor) with a GI tract/colon practice. We talked about my IBS and when I should have another colonoscopy (next year), given a family history of colon troubles. That was it!

K & I felt tempted to go see a movie and just leave our youngest son with a friend for a couple of hours instead of just a few minutes, but we decided against it & went to pick him up and come home.

So... it was a nice day!

I probably won't be at the boys' Thanksgiving event next Monday anymore (NH actually offered to teach the classes for me, that was nice of hir!) and it's kind of sad to have to teach Monday and Tuesday, but it's my job, I'm being paid to do it and I shouldn't complain! ;-)

Edited to add: we were sooo tired when we got home, so K & I took a nap. He got up after about 20 minutes (he is going to a conference from Sunday to Tuesday and has to prepare his presentation), but I slept from about 4-6 pm!! It was a GLORIOUS relaxing nap! And I'm so absolutely thankful and happy I had it and I can't remember how long it'd been since my last nap... (probably a couple of months)

If only I didn't have to drive 152 miles tomorrow and Friday again! Sigh... This morning I had to stop at a rest area to relax for about 15 minutes (I never fell asleep) before I continued my drive to teach.

Nothing Like a Day After the Other!

We were all very frustrated yesterday, but today was much better!

Kelv had a GREAT time in his field trip as we knew he would and came home in good spirits.*

My in-laws changed their reservation to an earlier flight and will probably be able to make it to the Thanksgiving Banquet. 

We still don't know what the problem with the car is, but it was towed (for 50 bucks) to our mechanic. Keep your fingers crossed it won't be a truly expensive repair! In any case, K was oh, soooo thankful that the car broke last night instead of breaking during the field trip. PHEW!

In addition today was a good day in other ways, but I'll save that for the next post (I need to get caught up with NaBloPoMo &  my goal of posting more than last year!).

* He's been a moody guy from babyhood, prone to saying extreme things that go from "today was the best day ever! This is the best food ever!" to "my day was horrible, this completely spoiled everything, etc..." I'm deathly afraid of what hormones will do to him and his moods in a year or two!! :(

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

When Everything Goes Wrong (On the Same Day)


Everything that matters is well, but today a few unexpected things went positively very wrong -- particularly for our boys.

First, the car broke. It was the minivan and I wasn't driving it (PHEW!). It broke in the elementary school's parking lot when K was picking up our oldest son from his bell choir practice at 5 pm. After the car failed to start even with a jump start, a classmate's father gave K & Kel a ride home.

The car is still sitting in the school's parking lot because we don't have any type of roadside assistance!* I know we'll figure out what to do to get the car to our mechanic (only 6 miles way) and hopefully the car can be fixed, but it's a huge inconvenience not to have the car for who knows how many days. (I can drop K off at U#1, go to work at U#2 and pick him up on the way back, but Tuesdays & Thursdays are complicated!)

The worst thing, however, is that Kelvin has a field trip tomorrow and K was driving him and some classmates and now K can't go anymore (no room & no need for more chaperones). Kel is devastated because he's been complaining for months that in the past two years we haven't been to any of his field trips, but have gone with his brother. (mostly true) :(

The second problem is that months ago when I found out that my in-laws were going to be here for Thanksgiving I invited them for the Thanksgiving Banquet that the elementary school prepares for all the seniors in the community. The boys were ecstatic because they were going to be with their grandparents for the very first time (most kids have theirs attend). It was a big deal for the boys particularly because it is going to be Kelvin's very first bell-choir public performance!

You know where this is going, right? We told my in-laws which day the banquet would be, but when they asked my husband to confirm the date last week, he said that it was a "Thanksgiving Dinner" and they assumed that it would take place in the evening. So they bought a ticket to go to Massachusetts & scheduled the return flight for 9 am so they can't be here on time for the banquet.

K is on the phone with them right now and they are checking their options (it was a 60 dollar non-refundable ticket to Providence which cannot be changed)... so maybe there's a slim chance they could still come.

When I walked into the house this evening after K called me to share the double bad news I went into damage control mode immediately! I told the boys I would cancel my class to come to the banquet and see them perform. Poor Kelvin said that it was the only good news all day... Sigh... I have emailed NH to ask whether it would be OK to cancel classes for that day or whether I would need to find someone to come show a movie or something. I haven't heard back from hir yet...

Sigh... Wish us luck!

P.S. yesterday I was less than 10 minutes late to class!

P.S.II Somehow these misunderstandings feel like a "bad omen" regarding our end of the year trip. I hope not!

* Ha! I keep telling K to do something about this! With two very old cars it's a pressing need! We always had it through our car insurance, BTW, but now we have the cheapest insurance for car+ home in the world and it doesn't include it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Mystery of the Missing Photos - Part II

The mystery continues, now with an interesting twist!

I wrote on the previous post about the mystery of November 2008's photos and then I read some of my posts of that period and I was reminded that it was part of the "dark days" when I was "teaching" an online class for University of Phoenix's affiliate Axia College -- the most horrible job I've ever had in my life!

So I reasoned that I had probably forgotten to take our camera when we went to my brother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving. Then I visited them this weekend and looked through their computer to copy photos of times and events that I was missing.

Look what I found!
Photographic proof that I was photographing that weekend. Sigh...

So the mystery continues! I doubt that I will ever find those photos and I'm OK with that. I suppose these crazy things happen, even with the most organized photographers. (I think I'm pretty organized). In fact, it was pretty interesting to come across this photo!

Super Stupid me! Stuck on traffic

Before we left the house, my husband told me that he had heard on the radio there had been an accident on the highway close to university number two. I assured him that I knew the parallel roads and all the exits I could take and that I would be okay.

There were also signs on the highway telling where the accident was And warning is that the right lane was closed. 

However, I was talking on the phone with my mom and when the exit right before the exit where the accident exit was came, traffic was just running fine and I just drove straight ahead. 

Ha Hah Hah

Alas! Now I am stuck in a 7 mile long traffic jam and I have to teach in 35 minutes. 

How dumb is that?

Have you ever driven a standard shift car in a traffic jam?

Huge sigh…

In any case, I don't regret the phone conversation, I really enjoy talking to my parents while on these long drives and I was using earbuds as well.  Talking on the phone while on long drives is a lifesaver for me and my husband, because it keeps us awake.

I bitterly regret missing the exit because I was so engrossed in our conversation.

Well, rant over. 
now I have to go write an email to my students, wish me luck!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Quick Scheduling Update

I was going to post this yesterday (or Wednesday night?), but I forgot. Here it goes.
Yes, I can definitely teach Monday through Thursday!! No more worries about that for now.

Two of my classes will still meet two class periods more than a regular class while I am being paid the same, but hopefully that will change, wish me luck!

Sigh... will I have to endure this life of "contingent labor" forever? I think it's pretty likely. I'm getting to old go get a "real" job. It would be possible only, perhaps, at U#1, but the way things are going with academic positions, I don't have much hope. Sigh...

At least I'm striving to "ameliorate" my own working conditions, right? :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

L's Bot

That is really funny!

I hadn't done a "Meme" in a really long time, but this (What Would I Say?) is positively HILARIOUS! It's an app that scans your fb account and comes up with possible status updates that sound like you.

Thanks for the heads up, Jamie! (I was so tickled to find the many references to breastfeeding in your Bot updates!). I have a couple in Portuguese and it's so interesting to see lots of things that I've really said jumbled up together! (I'm alternating "quotation style" with plain, I hope it looks goo!)
we've moved to the street finished it with us in New Zealand, he had a business trip goes smoothly, including security at the airport, my nephew who just so we have a fifth nephew or, finally, a niece.
I'm very relieved and thankful that made the semester Two exams next week, a delay of over seven years ago yesterday 03/09...
I'm very relieved and thankful that while the boys will be working to fully empty the day teaching earlier update, but on my update, but it with his four sons and SIX years away from the HUGE parties we've thrown in Providence, RI for five days.
mas vai embora com as letras do seu nome com e 9 meses, então tá ok, né?
My aunt was optimistic when she talked on the proper equipment, it would be just so nice to see you that detect, I guess the tables were in Brazil, so we don't want everybody else to be our first significant snow this to Portuguese [class]. Last, but I cannot bring myself to be moving to [New State] K[] will be online, my sons and a split second, there...
mas vai pra fazer um abraço! Depois dos metais fazerem a introducao! A gente conversa mais, tenho q ir preparar prova, desculpe. ;
You guys have yet And see my hopes up.
I have a little today.

I really like the next to last one. Yeah, hope, I love hope! ;-)

Almost On Track for NaBloPoMo

This is my 13th post this month and today was the 13th day (I know that technically it's the 14th already, whatever! ;-) So I'm basically on track.

I do enjoy posting every day or more often, so this is actually very easy for me -- for once in life I give myself "permission" to blog with abandon. YAY!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


After last week's meeting I'd been a bit worried about next Fall's schedule.

As usual, I'm beyond exhausted by all the driving and all of the teaching and just thinking I'd have to keep on commuting 5 days a week next year was pretty upsetting. (sigh...)

Well, this afternoon, NH stopped by my office and at the end of our brief conversation he had the idea to suggest a mixed schedule: M/W mixed with Tu/Th. That way the class would still meet for 5 class periods a week over 4 days and I wouldn't have to teach on Fridays.

I talked to the department secretary who deals with scheduling and we brainstormed a bit. She also called the registrar's office and they said that such a thing would be possible, but I'd be teaching in two different classrooms (M/W & Tu/Th).

So... I'm hopeful, BUT, I still need to ask them to pay more for these two classes, they've been literally exploiting me these past two years (last Fall and this Fall) with me teaching a 5 day a week class and being paid the same as for a class that meets three days! I wish they could compensate me retroactively because this is NOT fair. (and the meeting with the chair totally confirmed the unfairness!).

I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Mystery of the Missing Photos

I'm indulging in my favorite obsession these days (OK, last Friday and tonight): dealing with our thousands and thousands of photos! I began to do this because I decided to compile photos from the past 11 Thanksgivings, given that this may be our last one with K's brother's family (they will probably soon move).

I am very close to having all of our photos in one place -- an external hard drive that I bought last year. However, in the process of trying to transfer all the photos, I found that some months were incomplete or even nonexistent!

After looking for back-up CDs and DVDs from 2003, I finally figured out where some of the files were stored -- in an extra hard-drive inside our old desktop computer, one that isn't even connected to the internet!

So since I started writing this post I already recovered some photos I thought were lost, i.e. November 2003 and 2005.

November 2008 remains a mystery, though, I cannot find photos of that Thanksgiving anywhere! :(

Dealing with photos is a great "mental hygiene" for me as we say in Portuguese (it means relaxing activities and it totally does NOT have that meaning in English! NYC actually has a department of health and mental hygiene, which I gather should mean "mental health! :-)

In any case, apart from the small frustrations associated with the missing photos mystery, I'm enjoying a lot my "mental hygiene"! ;-)

P.S. This has got nothing to do with anything, but I thought I'd mention that toilet paper is actually called hygienic paper in Portuguese! (papel higiênico) This is totally the kind of comment that I abundantly make in my language classes -- random word association language tidbits. Particularly when a word has an "inappropriate" usage. Hihihi! (no examples of that sort here, though! This is a respectable blog. My classroom is respectable too, except when I go on these random digressive teaching jags!) :-D

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Grading Day & Fallen Leaves...

I FINALLY am grading and starting to make a small dent in my huge backlog of overdue papers, compositions and tests.


It does feel good to be working and getting things accomplished, but I wish so much I could be outside planting some bulbs while K & little L rake, blow & vacuum leaves...

I don't think last year I blogged about cleaning leaves, but it was a very prominent topic in this blog back in 2007-2009 when we lived in a house with huge trees & huge mountains of leaves. I will try to link to some of those posts:

Oct 2007 - leaves and job angst

Dec. 07 - "chewing" my scarf  ;-)

Feb. 2008 - (photos) Piles of leaves (wow, I only cleaned them in February? crazy!)

Nov. 2008 - raking in the moonlight (no photo)

And I hope to be back with some photos later... I'm actually surprised at how FEW posts about leaves I've written over the years, given that I always take photos intending to blog them.

Yeah, I've long given up sharing photos here, haven't I? Sigh...

Friday, November 08, 2013

Eating out with my boys!

We hardly ever eat out (we try to stick to our frugal lifestyle as much as we can), but this evening the boys & I are going to enjoy dinner after a nice day at U#2 together. The food just arrived, so I'll share more about our day later!

6:01 am

That's when my eyes popped open this morning (I got up to look at the alarm clock next to my husband) -- I hate this "automatic waking" time! :(

Thankfully I was able to go back to sleep (and have some very interesting dreams about my family looking at the Alps and being close to my birth-place while we were visiting Europe -- big real dream of mine)! I did get up briefly to brush my teeth, 'cause I fell asleep on my clothes yesterday AGAIN (like last Friday)!

But I went to bed relatively early, before midnight for sure, I think it must have been 11:30.

In any case, I think yesterday I couldn't go back to sleep because I was stressed out thinking of my work and that meeting and all the grading I still have to do and on which I am SOOOO behind. In addition, one of my cats (Lepton) hadn't come into the garage the night before, so I also wanted to go call him so he would come in.

I ended up going outside in my robe and pulling the dead tomato plants from my garden bed in the backyard and also pulling the tomato cages. It was pretty therapeutic. And I wasn't late because of it -- I need to leave before 8 am on Tu/Th so I'm not late for my 9:30 am class.

Today I'm taking the boys to U#2 with me. I hope we'll have a good time. I only teach two 50 min. classes, so they stay with me and maybe even speak Portuguese to my students.

Later we'll walk around the campus, eat somewhere and go to a couple of model train stores that they say that town has. We'll end the day by stopping at TJ's and driving back home, maybe stopping at the library if we have time? (maybe not)

P.S. and to be blogging in the morning before work! So decadent! hahaha! There's nothing like being well-rested, is there?

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Automatic Waking (or the woes of "Falling Back")

I agree with other people who are OK with "falling back" to Standard Time that it is hard to wake up/get up when it's dark, but I really really really DREAD how short the days become.

I can't wait for December 21 to come so days can begin to get long again.

My biggest problem is that after a few weeks into the semester, I begin to wake up automatically at a certain time, even before the alarm clock and by last week I was pretty good at this. When K was away (in Canada) three weeks ago I woke up before the alarm every morning.

And then we "fell back" last Sunday. So this morning I "automatically" woke slightly startled at 6:11 am -- because I would actually have been late, since it was after the old 7 am time -- I had been waking up before 7 am.

I'm going to bed now and really really hoping that I don't automatically wake up. Especially because the boys don't have school tomorrow and we could all sleep in a bit.

I'll let you know what happens... sigh...


I knew it was going to be hard, but I thought that somehow I would survive it and I am (surviving, that is), but I'm having an extremely hard time handling the exhaustion.

It's too much. Teaching nearly 7 hours plus over two hours driving. Having breakfast (bread, fruit) & lunch (some chips or crackers, a bagel, or sometimes almost nothing) in the car... Doesn't leave much time for rest, or for grading and preparing.

Today I was frankly frustrated at my exhaustion, at how much I work and how unfair it all seems. I couldn't help but share with students that I was just way too tired and they sympathized. They too are pretty tired, though not as frazzled as I am at this point.

OK, pity party over (for now), just to give way to angst-ridden thoughts. (Ha Ha, welcome to my life!)

What can I do if I realize and decide that I really don't want to spend the rest of my life teaching language? I don't feel I have much chance of getting a "real" academic job -- nothing short of a "miracle" would bring that about.

Right now I just have to keep on living. Trying to plan for next year and not to think too much about the future.

(good luck with that, says one obsessed with planning)

I hope it will all be fine and that in 10, 15 years I can look back and feel good about my life.

I just have to trust and pray that it will happen.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Dad's birthday

OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!

Today was my dad's birthday and I didn't even call him. That's HORRIBLE! My mom's birthday was last week and though I didn't blog about it as in previous years, at least we called her.

Can I feel a little better about my daddy because I blogged about it? :( OH WELL.

Let me go to facebook and write something for him (I just did! My mom actually made a fb account for dad!). Sigh...

I had a horribly busy day with my husband gone for two days, but thankfully only one night (last night), he's back!!

I still feel bad for forgetting... :(

A Tale of Two Meetings

In spite of the semi-pompous title, I don't really know how to write about this in an interesting, not pessimist way. Sigh...

A week ago I met with the chair of my department (who is new this year, but who has been chair before for a long period) and today I met with new hire (NH for the rest of the post), my "boss."

Last week's meeting was kind of perfunctory because I suspected its outcome: I have been assured full-time employment for next school year, albeit in a one-year contract. The chair said s/he will try to secure me a three year contract (which for my friends meant a pretty significant raise of 14K), but probably not for next Fall.

I used this meeting to introduce myself to new chair. We had met before and talked pretty often, since we taught in the same building and at the same time last Spring, but s/he didn't know too much about me. Then I made my requests, the most important of which would be not to teach five days a week next Fall (mostly because I am not being fairly compensated for the contact hours I teach). He immediately told me that he is in favor of changing to 3 days a week like they did for the main language of the department.

I also shared with the chair the literature class that I am going to teach next semester and I presented some ideas that I have for a new possible class and he was pretty enthusiastic about it.

Fast forward to this afternoon. It turns out that my strong suspicion was true: New Hire is the person responsible for the denial of my request to teach only four days a week.


And NH is pretty adamant about this issue -- s/he thinks the introductory intensive class should be taught 5 days a week.

Moreover, NH thinks that we should offer LESS literature classes because there aren't enough students to take them and that we're competing against each other.

Deeper sigh...

I was right in thinking (in my realistic pessimist way) that these literature classes that I'm getting to teach could be my first and my last. That's why they're such a treat. A window into a world that I will be prevented from being part of because I cannot (and probably will not ever) get a tenure track position.

And we always go back to this issue. It seems to be the central theme of my life right now. I wish it would just go away!! I wish I didn't need to feel so deeply torn apart by this (im)possibility in my life. Literally "shredded" by my need to have a paying job, whatever it is, and my desire to do research, to publish, to pursue academic passions.

In any case. It wasn't a bad meeting. We get along well, but it is very clear who is in the driver's seat -- the poor metaphor I've been using since NH got the job and I had to step aside.

OH... and there's more!! From next Fall on I will have to use the syllabi and program created by NH! NH sternly advised me against giving students many tests and quizzes (I cover 8 chapters of the language book, therefore I give 8 quizzes and 8 tests -- fair enough, no?). NH believes I should only give TWO exams and a final.

Because spending lots time grading, according to NH is NOT OK.

SERIOUSLY??? I will need to talk to lots of other language teachers before I can be convinced to subscribe to such a philosophy.

It sounds like a LAZY way of teaching that does a disservice to students. I think I'm being PAID to spend time grading. NH quickly calculated that with the number of evaluations I give I must spend over 50 hours a semester grading and was HORRIFIED.

Sigh... yeah, and I was horrified at NH's thinking. And I'm going to have to put up with it for who knows how long. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Pixie Blossoms is Back!!

I'm so thrilled that my friend Zilá (featured here in the Land of Nod) is back online and has started to blog again at the Pixie Blossoms site she had closed back in 2010.

Welcome back, querida!

I'm glad you kept your Etsy shop open and that you're back at Pixie Blossoms. You are extremely talented and I hope you find even more success as you continue to create and share beautiful art with the world!

You can check more of Zilá's work at her facebook page. I love it when people resurface like that, it is such a treat!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

NaBloPoMo On My Own Terms

I still want to write 30+ posts in November this year, but I will do it on my own terms, that is, I won't force myself to post everyday.

I missed posting on Friday because I was just SOOOOO exhausted that I fell asleep on the couch with my youngest son around 9:30 pm (while my husband and eldest were playing piano). Poor K carried me to bed where I woke up 6:30 am on Saturday morning still wearing my Friday clothes. I got up, changed, brushed my teeth and went back to sleep for a couple more hours. Bliss!

(that's why I wasn't sleepy last night)

I will try to blog more from my phone, though, and that may help me to post more often (I did write last night's quick post on my phone).

I just noticed that I had a dedicated NaBloPoMo label for  for every year from 2007-11, I just didn't create a tag last year & I won't this year either (I just created a plain label without a year, but I don't know if I'll label posts).

OK, boring meta-blogging, I need to move on. ;-)

I can't wait to read daily posts from other blogging friends who have decided to blog more often this month, YAY!!

SNL Tonight is just so GREAT!

edited to embed clips
Especially "Shaquille O'Neall" in Weekend Update!

And how they made fun of themselves by diffusing the uncomfortable  situation of never having had an African American woman in their cast.

But I feel like I could go to bed now. ;-)

Edited to add: but we ended up going to bed 2:30 am (actually, 1:30 with the fall back) just talking about the day & our friends.