Thursday, May 09, 2019

Things I Did NOT Do This Semester

I've been writing this post in my head for weeks now. I already wrote that this semester was hard, but now I'd just like to register some concrete markers of how it was hard. Some of these things are kind of silly, but they still demonstrate how challenging it was.

This semester I did not...

... go to yoga or any exercise class. Not even once. :-( And I didn't exercise on my own at all either, although I intended to.

... get an ID that gives me access to my husband's university's (U#1) exercise facilities -- including free exercise classes. I didn't do that even though we found out pretty early on in the semester that I was eligible for one -- something we both wish we'd known for the past THREE YEARS since I quit working at U#1.  Better late than never, though, right?

... wax my legs even after the weather got warm (this means I had to wear either maxi skirts, leggings or fancy patterned pantyhose after it was too warm for pants and sweaters -- it really severely limited my wardrobe options).   (I only did it last Sunday when K and I went with our younger son to U#1's pool and exercise facilities).

... apply nail polish to my fingernails at all! I really, really wanted to, because it's fun and makes me happy, but I was always stressed out or in a hurry in the mornings before going to work (my preferred time to do it). I did do my toenails quickly on the Saturday previous to the last day of classes. That means I also avoided wearing open toe sandals in warm days as well.

The I taught my last class, though, I treated myself to an IMAX movie (Endgame!), first film I ever saw by myself in the theater. I even ordered popcorn (it's crazy to pay the price of an entree for popcorn!). And I posted to Instagram & Facebook that I did it! ;-P

If I remember any other things that I did not do, I'll edit the post. Of course I did countless other things, many of which were quite intense (such as driving for over six hours to take my students to and from shows, twice), cooking for my students and hosting guest speakers (three times each), organizing and hosting a music concert (once!). And some of which were fun (taking students to eat out! Enjoying the music concert immensely!). It was quite crazy and stressful, but also fun. I hope my "haven't done" list is shorter next semester!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Back in the Home Renovation Bandwagon

WOW, I'm writing a new post only a day later! ;-) This feels so 2006 or 07 or 08!  ;-D

I think it's a healthy habit and now that I've been journaling on paper almost daily for a month or two, I feel like blogging again.

10 and 11 years ago we were deep in the throes of endless home renovations because in 2007 we bought our "Old New House" (the link displays all posts with that tag) which needed countless renovation projects. My favorite post is this "before and after" (lots of photos!) from April 2, 2009, ten years, a month and 6 days ago.

In our past 8 years in this house (we bought it in April 2011!) we have done some small renovations, such as painting several walls (dining room, bathroom), putting new knobs in the kitchen cabinets, getting all new appliances for the kitchen (last year), and changing broken living room and bedroom blinds. I didn't blog about any of this because I was having a hard time posting photos to the blog and then I pretty much stopped blogging.

Last December, when the water softener burst and we had water damage in the first floor of our split foyer house (garage under half the house, most living spaces upstairs), we knew we would be doing some serious renovations downstairs and we started them a couple months ago!

First we painted the family room and yesterday and today we started putting in new vinyl plank floors! I'll post some photos tomorrow so I can post this before midnight!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

A New Kind of (Awareness of) "In-Between-ness"

Five days ago, Laura (at 11D) wrote a post with a great title, "White Collar Blues," that compared adjuncts to freelance writers and lots of people joined in the discussion about these "white collar jobs" that lead to a life of poverty.

I wrote a long comment last Friday, but WordPress "ate" it, so I wrote a shorter one yesterday. What I wanted to add to the discussion was that my current job is a third, in-between position between tenure-track faculty and mere adjuncts (the "desperate adjuncts" about whom Laura said there's a story in the news every week). My position is pretty much permanent, but it doesn't have most "perks" of a tenure-track position.

I agree that it's not a really "bad" situation to be in, but it's still demoralizing, especially for those of us whose primary work is to teach, I imagine that for researchers it's may not feel that bad. They have a permanent research job, still have funding (I guess grant money) to go to conferences, they publish, present, etc. They just don't have to teach and don't have to go up for tenure. We, on the other hand, in spite of our training, are only expected to teach, and do a little bit of service (10% in my case). I personally feel demoralized because I was trained to do research and I would really love to do it, but I have no support whatsoever -- and, of course, with ADHD, I can't muster all it takes to get it done on my own, without being required/expected to do it. (in addition to the lack of support).

Then I looked at my blog's mast description and, to my horror, what 15 years ago when I started blogging was the "in-betweeness" of being an immigrant and of having an academic and a home life, has now transformed itself into my work situation!! I'm stuck in this "in-between" space for life! (unless I quit, which is very unlikely)

I often feel despondent about this, almost daily, but I'm STUCK!! I need to help support my family and if I can have a stable, if partially unfulfilling, job that pays a reasonable amount (more than 50k), that helps. You may or may not remember, but this is the very first full time I've had in my life, and I got it when I was 41. Sigh...

Look at the (very unfiltered) note I wrote on my phone one of these days (1/18/19):
There is hardly a day in which I don't leave work at [the university] despondent. I love my colleagues, but they teach a different language. They also have meetings and other activities which I don't have, so I feel that I don't belong, and feel horribly isolated most of the time. The person who is supposed to be my colleague [the tenure track in charge of the program -- just awarded tenure, BTW] never meets with me, only if s/he absolutely has to. My mega-commute is almost unbearable and makes for grumpy mornings and evenings. I don't feel valued and well regarded by the super-hierarchical department that treats tenured and tenure track faculty as the only deserving members.
Sigh... I feel stuck for life in this in-between space! There is no way out!

And... just like that, it feels easy to blog again. This is what most of the writing in this space has been for the past 15 years, the fruit of despair or stress or a profound need to work through stuff... it's very therapeutic, really! And, in spite of the utter lack of readers, even if just for myself (because it helps me process things), I will probably blog more often for a while.

I guess I've reached "the end of my rope" right now and my last resort is blogging. I hope it helps somehow!

Sunday, May 05, 2019

A Hard Semester (Yet Incredibly Exciting)

I began this post before April was over (I wanted to write at least once in April), :-( but of course I didn't write anything but the title.

I am still grading, and we REALLY needed to use this coming week to put new floors on our downstairs that suffered flooding from a burst water-softener, but I don't know how that's going to go.

I think it's partly hormonal, but I've never finished a semester with so little energy. I sleep and I don't wake up refreshed, I'm just tired.

I had three preps this semester, two of which were brand new classes. It was exciting, but exhausting. I wish I had the energy to write more about this. One of the classes was about music and that was really cool! It's a class I had wanted to teach for over 10 years, actually, make it 20. I hope I'll get to do it again.

Enrollment in my classes is down, though, and that makes me upset and depressed. It's hard to carry the whole program pretty much in my back -- only students who actually like me keep going, since I'm the only person to teach this subject. Sigh...

And I'm tired of doing it over and over and over again. Of course students can tell that. And it reflects on enrollment. I need a minimum of 8 students on the upper level class next semester and I have only 3 so far. :-(

OK, I have to go back to grading. I'm sorry this is such a depressing post. Not that anyone is reading, but still, I wish I could be more upbeat. It feels very unlike me to be like this. Hoping that soon I'll feel better.

P.S. three weeks ago I went and lost my pretty Katie Daisy Planner which I used as a diary. I suspect it may be inside the house somewhere because I have a vague memory of taking it from the living room to my bedroom when we had guests coming over, but I can't find it anywhere. So sad!