Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Best Class Ever or...

... sheer torture? Because it could be "the last" for a long, long while... who knows how long. :-(

I'm teaching a lit class because "the person above me"* is on leave this semester. But that person just emailed me last Friday to take away the only 3000 level class I teach so we can offer three beginner level classes next semester and try to grow the program. It's good to grow the program, but... sigh... it feels like my losing ground here.

* the no-longer-that-new hire, who is younger than me, has less experience, and is not from my country (a white dude from California, a most typical American academic).

There is a flicker of hope after all the angst of last year (which I was never able to blog about in a straightforward manner for various reasons). [WHOA, there are 126 posts with the "Working in the Margins" label? Wow, I write a lot about this depressing subject, don't I? Only "Academic Life," "Job search" {mostly my  husband's various ones}, and "Family Travels" {yay! winner!} have more posts!] Maybe, just maybe, some of us lecturers will be granted non-tenure track academic ranking/titles. I'm not counting on it and, if my "demotion" to basic level classes is any indication, things aren't really going well for me in this department.

I will try to be hopeful, though, as best as I can. And in the mean time, enjoy every minute of my amazing class. Six bright and motivated girls, readings and films I feel very comfortable teaching. I think it'll be awesome. YAY!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Doing a small thing/ Despair/ What can we do?

this promises to be long, and rambling, and... but... I have to write tonight, I just do, so please bear with me if you're so inclined. (written on Wednesday night 1/25)
I just created two new labels now: RESIST! (can't have exclamation marks on labels) and Unprecedented Times, to go with my older and vaguely feminist "Political and Personal" label.

You know... I have a pretty charmed life, perfect really. Apart from the tough mega commute, some tensions at work, and my heart's desire to be a "real academic" somehow, I need to recognize that I have a really good job when so many people bad ones or none at all. [meta-blogging comment:] I also feel sad that I lost the precious community I had with/through this blog for several years and now I thirstily follow people's updates on facebook (which I hate with a passion) because I miss reading their blogs so much! (sigh... I will never get over this, NEVER. It's an ongoing frustration that I enjoy sharing here, but people who used to read and care about what I have to say don't anymore. Except for Jamie! Thank you so much, my friend!

Anyway... other than that (and some other issues that have more to do with my "fragmented" life), everything is good. Lovely family, husband, kids, extended family.

But I cannot be happy just for myself, and my family. I feel the need to protect the environment, to fight for social justice, to stand up for those who are oppressed, to listen with compassion to people who are different from me, to humbly recognize my privilege (even though I am also part of several minority groups), and do my part to make the world a better place. A place with more equality, less poverty and disenfranchisement, more acceptance and understanding and less racial strife and sexual discrimination (among many other things).

I am having a really really hard time living in this country now. Where millions of people are just APATHETIC because doing nothing, ignoring politics, not voting has no serious consequences for their privileged little lives (or so they think!). Instead of being upset at those who voted, I am upset at those who didn't because they didn't CARE. Because they think politics is corrupt and useless or because they were upset with the choices at hand. I am really angry at those people.


I am getting bitter and bitterer each moment I spend reading what my outraged friends are posting to facebook. So many bizarre things happening all at once. It's been CRAZY since last Friday -- it's hard to take it all in and not despair.

There is one small thing that is making me feel a teeny, tiny bit better right now. It's really small, but it's something.

I mentioned briefly that the network of "house churches" we are involved with sponsored three Syrian refugee families this past December (and it's giving them ongoing support). A couple of weeks ago we decided to stretch ourselves to the limit and sponsor one more family who arrived yesterday. My husband and I were co-signers on their lease.

It's a really small thing, but it's something.

I cannot think that refugees will not be coming anymore, that hard working people (whose jobs NO ONE ELSE WANTS!) will probably be sent back to their countries -- maybe with their American citizen kids (who knows?), and, perhaps saddest of all, thinking of all the people, children, elderly, who will die without health insurance.

I have to keep myself from thinking about any of these things lest I burst into tears multiple times a day.

What can we do?

Friday, January 20, 2017

. . .

I don't know how to title this.

i don't feel like capitalizing anything... as if small letters could convey better how scared and sad i feel inside. more like disconsolate. expecting the worse.

why are there lots of people who keep reassuring everyone that this is no big deal?

this is not normal, it hasn't happened before. such an unprepared, sick man who picked questionable people to help him dismantle everything...

i've never really checked the news, but now i do even less. i may have to stop listening to npr. is npr even going to survive? or any other humanities and arts initiatives that depend on government funding?


government in this country is about to change forever. i saw a headline saying that there will be permanent changes in civil rights laws...

the rich will get even richer and polute even more

those who most need help with their health and their kids' education won't have it

. . .

In the meantime, our small network of "house churches" has just signed up to sponsor a THIRD family of refugees from Syria who arrive in 4 days. The first two arrived before the holidays and we were so busy with grading that we couldn't help at all :-( though we donated furniture, money, raised money and donations from my husband's department.

The families, both from Aleppo, if I'm not mistaken: a young couple (she in early 20s, him 30) with three small children (3, 2 and not even 1). A middle aged couple with four kids, twin boy and girl aged 14, autistic boy aged 12 and 9 year old boy -- they had been in Turkey for two, three years and the children had never been allowed to go to school.

The new family is an older couple (50s-60s) and a son in his 20s.

Refugees are being hurriedly brought into the country by agencies before it's too late, before the door closes. I will concentrate in helping the refugees (I haven't met them yet, actually), I will refuse to let this bring me down.

Resist, we need to resist.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Meal of the Day:

5 pm.


It was a wonderful day of teaching!

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. [Trying to!] One. Word. At. A. Time. Literatlly
(Except this note I cut & pasted)

ETA -- and cutting and pasting from Notes on the iPhone doesn't work (different color text, see below):

P.S. Blogging on my phone again. One. Word. At. A. Time. Literally. 
(Except this note I cut & pasted)

First day and...

... of course I forgot to take my medication!

I guess I'll have some coffee instead!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Last Day

Tomorrow I go back to work, so I'm spending a few extra minutes in my cozy bed this morning, even though I already had to drop off my youngest son at school. 

It's raining out there and I wish that maybe I could sleep a bit more, but I already took my medication (hoping I can sleep earlier tonight -- it still makes me more alert at night than I'd like (and I'm already a night owl -- that's my biggest worry if my son were to take medication, he'd never sleep!). I will just read in bed to prepare for my classes, I'm really excited for the opportunity to teach literature once more -- I'm making a HUGE effort to try to look at a "glass half-full" here instead of being my regular negative self. I promise you I am. Sigh...

Ok, more later, before I relapse!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Gorgeous Baby Brother's Birthday!

WOW, I can't believe it's been seven years since I last blogged about my "baby brother's" birthday (he's only 2.5 years younger than me, I don't think I should call him baby brother, but, oh well... I will!). This is actually the third time in 12 years I blog about this, the first time was nine years ago.

So, let's do the math, I guess he turned 43 today... we're both getting old (duh! as my oldest son would say). I congratulated him on Facebook (where he doesn't list is b-day BTW) and thanked him for giving me the gift of the most gorgeous nephew and niece in the world. Totally true! (especially the niece)
I don't know if I should be sharing this last photo (that my husband took back in 1995), but my bro will never see this, so I guess it's ok! ;-)

Firsts in 2016

First graduation (our boys never had kindergarten graduation).

First son in high school and working (though his wages go straight to pay the school).

First death of a close family member.

First time we took the boys to Rio de Janeiro (and Iguazu Falls/Cataratas do Iguaçu).

My first three year contract (sigh...) and raise (not associated with teaching more classes).

K got tenure (I think that's not a first because I'm pretty sure there will never be a second. Sigh...)

First suit purchased for Kelvin (plus a tuxedo for music groups & a few formal jackets -- lots of money spent on this boy last year!).

Oh, first time each boy has his own bedroom (more expenses ;-P)! 

We got L (younger son) his first phone for his 12th birthday (like we did with Kelvin), but he never uses it or carries it around, so it was kind of a useless thing to do. We did get to use the phone in Brazil (did we? can't remember, at least we could have if we needed it) and I'm sure he'll use it on his first trip along this coming April.

If I remember more firsts for 2016, I'll edit the post and list them. Gotta share this before the year is too "old"! (in this process I'm editing a few other "Firsts" label posts, you'll see those if you get a feed that also gets recently edited posts, I suppose).

All of the clothes

Today I'm washing and line-drying all of the clothes. Seriously. Sheets from the beds (that will go right back on) and even all stinky snow sports clothes. The clothesline is full right now, but many clothes are nearly dry so I can swap them out by wet ones when the next wash is done.

Obviously I'm just so happy!!

I wrote this at 10:30 am when I had already hung three loads and the fourth was washing. A lot has already dried now and I have put back the sheets in my bed and my older son's as well as put all his clothes in his room.

And now, since it's still fairly early and these "microplush" sheets dry fast, I'm washing a fifth load (or is it sixth? I can't keep track today!) with a king set of sheets and some other things. I'll add some photos in a few minutes. :-)

Here they are (3:14):

Friday, January 06, 2017

Books Read in 2016

I want to blog more about books and reading in 2017, so why not start and try to remember the books I read in 2016? This post will have to be a work in progress because I cannot remember most books I read.

The last week of the year was a great time for reading, since we were mostly hanging out in my youngest brother-in-law's house and it was very cold outside (it's Montreal after all!), so I read three books there, first I finished Feed by M. T. Anderson which I had bought together with the The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing books I and II for my son (I am yet to read those).

Feed is crazy and gave me a bit of a headache. It's all too real even though it was written BEFORE we were completely glued to our cell phones 24/7 and to our facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. I picked it up after a friend and children's lit scholar (and former blogger) mentioned in passing that the president-elect (a creature whose name shall never be mentioned in this space except by titles) sounded like the few quotes from the president in Feed.

Then I read a Brazilian book, Desde que o Samba é Samba by Paulo Lins, the author of the now famous novel then movie Cidade de Deus/ City of God. It's a supposedly historical fiction book about the history of samba music and it's pretty interesting, but way too full of sex and red-light district skirmishes to my liking. Sigh... and it was pretty repetitive in its structure, not well edited at all. It was interesting to learn more about how "Umbanda" -- one of the Brazilian African inspired religions -- originated. Lins had a few well-placed (if coming out of nowhere) cameos of famous people such as Carmen Miranda and the Brazilian poets Manuel Bandeira and Mario de Andrade (not very flattering portrayal of the sexual life of those two, probably the reality, though).

And I began, but not finished until Monday Jan. 2, another Brazilian novel, Azul Corvo this one available in English translation (Crow Blue) which I imagine must be good -- I'd recommend this book if you're interested in the experience of immigration/migration and knowing a little bit about the guerrilla movements in Brazil during the late 60s early 70s. Adriana Lisboa is an extremely talented novelist, I need to read all her books (I have read and taught another one, Symphony in White -- pretty heartbreaking tale of two sisters, trigger warning: sexual abuse & incest. It's masterfully written, though, and oh, so poetic!).

That was it for the last week (I've read two more books since Sunday)

Other books I read in 2016:

Between the World and Me. Wow, this book is a must read for those who want to know what it feels like to grow up Black in America. A tour de force.

Books I re-read: Sense & Sensibility back in February.

Then, before I watched the movie version of Lois Lowry's The Giver (precisely this beautifully illustrated edition), I re-read the book (which I'd read for the first time last year and never got to blog about! ;-(

And around the time of the election, I re-read the three sequels, Gathering Blue, Messenger -- very relevant for today, especially the whole thing of building a wall and shunning immigrants and refugees, and Son (which I didn't love when I first read it, but now think it's pretty good). I heartily recommend this quartet if you haven't read them!

I'll edit the post when I remember other books I read -- they weren't that many, unfortunately!

Monday, January 02, 2017

11 Days Away

And nearly 12 hours to get back, but we're home now!! 

May 2017 be a tolerable year! Sigh...