Monday, June 29, 2015

Too Much to Say (or Not)

These past two weeks were intense. The main reason I haven't blogged about the horrible terrorist attack and hate crime that took place a week an a half ago in North Carolina is that it's very hard for me to know what to say and how to say it. I want to be an outspoken ally of the African American community and to condemn racism, but I need to be keenly aware of my white privilege at all times.

I am grateful for all the writing that my online friend LaToya (Dr. Mama Esquire) has been doing on Twitter and in her blog. Hearing her voice and her perspective is very important to me and one of the reasons why I stayed silent even though another online friend whose opinion I value, Susan, was upset at those of us who didn't speak up.

So many things are so complicated -- I know this is a cliche, but it's so true of my life. Things are even more complicated when you are an immigrant, living in several conflicting worlds and cultures. In addition to that "condition" I also am part of a faith community about which I have extremely complex and mixed feelings. Ditto for academia. Sometimes my brain and my heart hurt at the same time because there are so many forces pulling me in so many directions. I can't even articulate my thoughts and feelings.

I just happened to come across something critical about NPR's coverage of Israel and I was reminded once more that in a few weeks I'm going to visit a country I have very mixed feelings about as well, because of the Palestinians.

Then there's the daily reality of our lives. My husband is scrambling to finish writing a grant proposal and academic articles, so he spends 15-17 hours away from home working in his office at the university every single day except Friday night & Saturday (and, Sat. night lately). He leaves between 9-11 am and comes back between 2-4 am.

Most nights I've been awake until he gets home, but it's mostly been coincidental. Sometimes it's because I took some short catnaps and have just been able to stay up, sometimes I'm just naturally awake. I'm going to bed now, but maybe he won't even come back home -- because he needs/wants to finish writing the grant tonight.

Obviously, I still have TONS of things I want to blog about and end up not doing it. I will try. Today I prepared food for a bridal shower at church and I want to share photos of that! And some other things.

Gotta go to bed now, though!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


I just made an interesting mistake! ;-)


I didn't give the best instructions to the hairdresser, so, instead of two tones of highlights, I ended up with my very first full head hair coloring experience! Two tones of blonde. Darker and lighter. The plan is to add more light brown highlights in three weeks, so family will be less shocked by it when we meet in July. ;-)

In the meantime, I will hopefully enjoy looking quite different for these next three weeks. My sons thought it was okay, but different. I already called my husband, but I have to wait for the verdict when he gets home. I think he'll be ok too. 

I guess at 40+ one has to shake things up once in a while!
I'll let you know what K thinks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Retreat

I've been at a writing retreat since yesterday and it's been great. I'm reading more than writing, because I'm working on a conference paper for next week which I had not done any reading for, but I have seven pages of notes for the paper (and it only needs to be 9 pages long). I hope to get some more work done tomorrow morning.

And even more meaningful than reading and writing I am making some great new friends that I hope to keep in touch with for years to come if possible! There is one person I already know (her daughter goes to the same school as our sons and has been my oldest son's classmate for the past five years, they also go to out church), but I met several others and I'm particularly excited to have met a colleague from Russia who moved here a year ago.

Interestingly, there are several of us with children that are 12 or 13 years old, that feels interesting! I should be working and not blogging, but I've missed blogging.

Oh, last, but not least, the food at this retreat center is pretty amazing!

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Mockingbird/ Mockingjay

Well, it didn't work out very well to watch the Mockinjay Part I movie almost back to back with To Kill a Mockingbird (the movie with Gregory Peck)! ;-)

Not only are the books and movie styles completely different, but movies made so many decades apart (half a century, in fact!) have incredibly different paces and techniques. So, yeah, it was almost a joke to do something like this, but it's not often that I go to the university library's Media Center to borrow DVDs (this time they had Bluray for Mockinjay, yay!!), so I got those two plus the documentary Hey, Boo which I don't know if I will finish. [Hey, if you're interested it will air again on July 10 on PBS to "honor" the July 14  release of the prequel Go Set a Watchman!].

It seems that the To Kill a Mockingird screenplay was hailed as one of the best adapted screenplays of all time and I think it's OK, but I was truly pleasantly surprised by how great and how "faithful"  to the book Mockinjay Part I was! It didn't end exactly where I'd thought and said it would end (I think that would have been way too much suspense!), but almost. It was so faithful that they even showed the lake and certain areas of District 12 that had not been shown in the previous two movies. I really really liked it!

Of course I hadn't read the Suzanne Collins book as recently as I had when I watched the first two movies, which I basically didn't like at all, particularly the first one, The Hunger Games. They cut too much of the book (in the words of my 13 year old son who has read them all and watched the films with us, in the first movie, it feels as if the games themselves last for a few days, not over two excruciating weeks). Catching Fire was slightly better, but still not that great -- too little time was spent showing the Capitol, among other faults. Their portrayal of how they controlled the Arena with a model was cool, though, as was having a view of the background of what's going on. After watching Mockingjay (on Tuesday night), I re-read the ending of the book again and I think it's pretty great. I hope the last film won't disappoint!

My husband worked on reading the trilogy over many months (maybe close to 6 months) and he finished a bit over a month ago and thought the author did a fantastic job, particularly in portraying post-traumatic stress disorder. Not a lot of time in the movie(s) shows that, even because the films don't have a first person narrator, but we get to see the effects on Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress. Phillips Seymour Hoffman is splendid and I don't know exactly how they'll get around not having him in the sequel. He only appears at the end, so I guess they'll have Haymith say his lines.

As for To Kill a Mockinbird it also cuts most of the novel, no scenes in the school, barely any relationship with the neighbor ladies, no aunt Alexandra, but it keeps the main scenes and Peck and the girl actress who plays Scout are splendid. I think we're spoiled by the way movies are made nowadays, though. Thankfully, great books transcend the passage of time and the novel moved me greatly.

Next, I'll blog about Lois Lowry's books which I read last week (The Giver & companion books).

Good Question!

Thanks for your question, What Now? Obviously there could still be something, but I have a sneaking suspicion that in this particular case, being a local candidate didn't work in my favor. Of course this "local" is relative, since I don't work in this department of with any of their faculty.

Besides, my application was more of a tenure track application. That's what I was advised to do by my (fabulous) friend. Incidentally, she had a meeting last week, or two weeks ago, with the chair of the department where the position is and she had promised to make some inquiries. To be quite frank, I'm afraid to ask anything... Sigh...

In any case, my friend had told me that this was my one shot, so my application should look like an application for a tt job -- I should try with all my might, give 'em all I've got. So I did. Maybe they'll want to give me a chance next year? Maybe they only want to hire a person that will clearly know that this is a ONE YEAR thing -- because that's not what my application was for. I mentioned solid projects that have potential for many years of work with students. So... yeah... maybe that's part of the problem.

And I'm not upset or disappointed. I'm just preparing myself for another year of language teaching and for fighting again to keep my jobs and/or get another one.

It's OK. Part of the process. Too bad that I'm turning 44 and it's been 7 years since I finished my PhD so I'm probably past my expiration date as an academic. I'm not ready to quit yet, though. I won't go down without a fight. (She says, sardonically, always aware that it's pretty much a lost battle, that on this very day we learned more about the decline of the humanities... Sigh).

Yeah, whatever... ;-)

Nothing... & Benign

Two short posts in one, to save time. ;-)

Nothing is what I heard from my job application. I hope they'll at least send a rejection letter. It's better than NOTHING. Sigh... :-( I guess it was just a dream and, as I've said before, I'm confident that whatever happens will be for the best.

(what if I lost my other two jobs, got this one year position and then lost it after the end of the year? If they open a TT position I'll apply. And I'll try to publish at least a couple more articles until I have to send out that application [I don't know when I'll find the time, but I can try]. Sigh...)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The second part is about the polyps from my colon. I got a call from the doctor a week ago to say that they were benign, but considered "pre-cancerous," so I'll need another colonoscopy in 5 years (my mom thinks is too far into the future). I'm glad I'm OK, but slightly concerned at the same time. I don't know if there's anything I can do to prevent future problems. I'll look in to that.

. . . . .
Last, but not least, a weather report. Yesterday it was even colder for swim practice (59 F), but the boys braved it again. Today, both soccer and swim practice are cancelled because of the rainy cold weather.

At least I think it'll get warmer tomorrow. Today it's drizzling... which kind of reminds me of the city of São Paulo and its famous drizzle. I wrote a poem about that many years ago (1992) and posted it to the blog for Jo(e), eight years ago. Wow, I've been blogging for an awfully long time, haven't I?

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Chilly Swim Practice

61 F (16 C) is a little chilly for swim practice, but the boys said the water wasn't cold & did ok! 
And the coach put both together in one lane. 

Monday, June 01, 2015

The Last Salary

Every end of May/beginning of June I get paid my last salary from U#2 and then I have to wait until the end of September for the next one. It's always very depressing. (I know I recently blogged about this, sorry about being so repetitive!). I have given up on teaching summer classes because nobody registers for them anymore. I need to teach online, but I won't develop an online class without being paid to do so. (and I don't have time during the semester to participate of the workshops that lead to that payment).

My husband didn't get the NSF grant he applied for two years ago and another collaborative grant he had been promised went wrong, so he doesn't have a "real" summer salary either (only 2.5K that he managed to salvage from the second grant). Of course, his meager wages as an assistant professor are distributed through the 12 months of the year (although it's technically a salary for 9 months only), so we still have enough for the mortgage and other living expenses, but still... I hate this side of summer. 

With our big amazing trip coming up (Egypt, Jordan, Israel & Europe), I'm just very apprehensive at the thought of the credit card debt we'll have until my first salary is deposited. (in addition to our current debt due to the car we bought last summer [that post has a spam comment from a car dealer, but it's so cute I won't delete it! ;-)])

OK... enough complaining. There are more annoying things to worry about right now than money... Horrible Weeds! A really messy house with misplaced things that I really really want/need to find. A garage that needs to be organized and cleaned to accommodate a new present I'll soon blog about!