Thursday, December 29, 2005
I was going to write a post on this subject, but I spent all my energy on an email reply to my mother instead. And then I realized that everything I had to say is pretty much in the email anyway. My sisters read this blog, but I was going to send them a copy of my email anyway.
So... an insight into my family relations:
Yes, if you had said that you wanted to come to REI, we would have said, "Okay woman, then get your ass in gear and come with." But you said, "Well, I could take you down if you want." And since you always seem to have fifty other things going, we figured that we could take care of this by ourselves and not take up your time. When I called from the store, I asked, "Are there any plans for dinner? Because we're getting hungry and we don't want to go out if there are plans." And you told me to go ahead, whatever we wanted to do. So we did. Yet I am the rotten, exclusionary one here.
I am not used to getting your undivided attention - not since I can remember, in fact. Generally, I feel like I'm pretty far down on your list of priorities. Because I'm so used to hearing Kathy/Kate/othernickname can handle it, I just go ahead and do exactly that instead of waiting for you/anyone else to help out. I realized that you weren't going to figure out that I needed help with stuff about the time I was 14 or 15 and had exactly 3 pairs of raggedy underwear... for about 3 months. Finally took myself shopping and bought my own. I don't ask for help, because just like it doesn't occur to you to offer it to me, it doesn't occur to me to ask. Back in elementary school I used to be totally bewildered about how all the other kids would have these fantastic, professional-looking projects. I mean, how the hell did they manage to all be so good? The thought that maybe their parents were helping them never even occurred to me. Not once. And I'm not mentioning these things as a point of blame, but just to establish the pattern.
I think that's partly the reason that none of us can truly accept [my half-sister's daughter]'s presence. We know that it is the right thing for her, certainly. And we don't begrudge her the escape from the Churl. Objectively, I think [niece] is a pretty cool kid. But she's ahead of all of us on Mom's List of Priorities, and it's hard not to resent that.
With K3 - I look at it and think - hmmm... well, I asked her repeatedly to come out and visit me in Utah while she was still in high school, and somehow she never thought there would be anything to do, and so always put me off. From my perspective, this says "hanging out with my sister isn't enough to keep me entertained" and therefore, I figure that K3 prefers to be elsewhere rather than spend time in my company. Not an unreasonable conclusion, I think. When I am around her, she's either lighting up - smoking in a circle of non-smokers, which is incredibly rude and something that I was told (by other smoker friends) never to do when I was a smoker - or she is on her cell phone. Again giving the message that the people around her are less interesting and important than her friends. Yet if I say either of these things, I am judgmental and a bitch.
I feel like I hear you tell me how wonderful I am, how mature and capable, etcetera soforth and so on, but just as I really am starting to feel good about myself, you aim some low karate chop at my knees and I'm back on the floor in pain again. I don't like it. So next time you have a thought about what an ungrateful, stuck up, cruel and unusual daughter I am, can it. Keep it to yourself. Because I'm not taking that BS anymore. We pretend that you are the reasonable parent, but sometimes I am more wary of you than I am of father.
And I'm not too hard on Jay. I give him a lot of credit for returning year after year to a place and family full of bipolar-acting freaks. His family dynamic is so utterly different, it's just alien. But I don't take shit from him either. I didn't want him to feel more under attack than he already does around the Fam, so I try to conduct most of our personal business just between the two of us. And we had some talking to do at the airport, and I didn't want to put it off any longer, so that's why I didn't say, "Yeah, mom, come in and let's try to talk in the loud, crowded places this side of security." Also, I don't like crying in airports, and I was close enough as it was.
I don't understand how you think I am in the position to be hard on the rest of you. The only judgement I make is that I don't like to feel like crap, yet somehow I always do after spending time with some members of the family. I feel like I'm being held to some bizarre standard that no one takes the time to explain. You presented the wedding guest book with the explanation of don't worry if you don't like it, it's just something I picked up. So when I tell you that it's not really Jay's or my style, it's a little too girly, you snipe that I've always been so hard to please. I feel like I was set up. If you told me that you really liked this guest book and hoped it would work out for me, I would have said, "Hey, you know, I think this will do just fine."
With Christmas this year, I emailed you fairly early on with my specific preferences and an explanation about them - I wanted to spend time with the family, not watch everyone run in their own directions again. And at first, it seemed like you were on the same page. But then I get this list of all the people who just can't live without you, and so what I suggested simply wasn't possible. You don't include me on the list of people who couldn't live without you, so somewhere down the line, I stopped including myself on that list, too. Yet somehow, I end up being the judgemental bitch again. I don't get it.
I don't know what you think I'm like, or what you think I do in my "real" life. I can tell you that there are people who make fun of me for smiling all the time. Most of the time I'm a pretty happy, positive person. Don't know what else to tell you. I'm sorry that you don't know this about me, and that you seem to think I'm someone I'm not. But for as much as I might bitch about our cold, frozen north, and Jay's being sometimes clueless, I'm pretty happy with the way things are. I'm not you. Jay is not Dad. Please don't think we are.
I love you, and everyone else in the family, and I hope we figure out how to communicate as a family some day. You are all welcome to come visit whenever you like.
Happy New Year
It's taken me a long time to be able to write that letter. I'm at peace with every sentiment in it. And I've looked inward, and really thought about things, and I'm not angry about any of it. Some of it makes me a little sad. And I don't want to give the impression that my whole vacation was awful, because parts of it were very fun. Playing pool with my sisters and Jay and playing cards with my sisters and my mom figure quite high on my list of things I look forward to doing again. I just can't do the mental illness dance any more. I can't cope with the guilt trips and sulk fests. If you want to talk to me and tell me how you feel, we can communicate. But as I tell my students, I am not a psychic. If you want me to know something, you have to communicate it to me, either in conversation or in writing.
It's not as difficult as we were raised to believe.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
With the completion of the term, I've actucally had energy for other pursuits. Wrote another 6000 words on the trilogy, completed three critiques over at Forward Motion, and baked three new kinds of cookies from the Eating Well magazine recipes. Gingerbread bears/rocking horses/candy canes, thumbprint cookies (w/cherry and strawberry jams), and mandelbrot, which are evidently like yiddish biscotti. They all turned out pretty well, I think. Now they just have to survive the flight down to Pittsburgh. Figured I'd do a batch of brownies tonight.
D'oh... and I was supposed to write down the recipe for Jay to send to his grandmother. She took some home with her from Thanksgiving and evidently they went over well. Heh. Mental note: tonight, write down a copy of the recipe. It's one that I found in a cookbook that we picked up in Alaska in 2002 and I've been tweaking it ever since. I've been using measurements like "one of the small blue bowls full of sugar" and "a handful of..." so tonight actual measuring will need to happen.
So far for christmas presents, I've knit 4 scarves (well, 3 and a half) and 2 hats. Still need to do two more scarves and three more hats, but those can mostly wait until the New Year. Or rather, they are going to wait until the New Year, because there's no way I can get all that done this week. Mmm. No.
Skiing has been most lovely. Lots of fluffy cold white stuff over the last week or two. Jay's already been out... six or seven days. I think he's up to 128K for the season already. Sicko. Me? I'm at 3 days and about 24-25km total. I think. I don't really keep track of things like that. I'll leave that to Doctor Charts and Graphs.
Okay. Yes, I'm boring even myself with this stuff. Perhaps I'll be interesting again after the holidays. We leave tomorrow afternoon. Don't know if we'll have web access during the week we're gone.
Happy Holiday of Choice! I'm outta here.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
At least, that's what a few of my students are no doubt thinking right now.
But honestly, do they think I ENJOYED failing them? God no. Passing a student is much easier and less traumatic to all parties involved. But it would be absolutely irresponsible to do that.
Of the people who did not pass the class, I had a few very different reactions. One exploded at me, saying that the class was stupid, my assessment methods were unreasonable, no one else was looking for improvement as one of the criteria, that she was never taking this class again because it was a waste of her time... it went on. I showed her her objective score which was failing by all standards, but she went off in a huff before I could tell her that I was only looking for improvement as a last ditch effort to find a reason for her to pass. I didn't find it.
Another sat there quietly, turning red and then pale by turns. I wanted to pass her, I really did. And if grades were based purely on attendance and turning things in on time, then she would have had an A++. Sadly, I was more concerned with the writing quality and ability to revise and integrate information. In my syllabus, I state that students will not pass unless they participate meaningfully in the class. Not by any stretch of the imagination did she fulfil that requirement. But she just agreed with me, nodding, calm, and then went off to cry somewhere. (I know about the crying because another student told me.) I feel bad about this one, but she would have drowned in the next level. She's just not ready.
The last student listened to what I had to say as we looked over his final paper. He didn't bring any of his previous work with him as stated both in a handout, verbally, and online,(But I thought you had copies of all of it... No, I only made a copy of the paper you massively plagiarized.) and never completed the final essay because he missed the last day of class and evidently didn't check his email or the class webpage after that. I told him - three times - that there was no way I could give him credit based on the work that he had turned in, he just stared at me. Then he got up, muttered, "Whatever", and walked out.
Two students who had poor final papers, but who had clearly improved all term and who had been very active and commented intelligently during discussions, I gave a second chance. They have until Wednesday afternoon to rewrite the final paper and resubmit. If they fix the biggest errors, proving their ability to revise, they will pass.
However, I just heard today that one of those students self-mutilates to deal with stress, and evidently, she's been cutting. Some time last night, she was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and her bathroom was covered in blood. She cut more than she intended, it seems. Shit shit shit. Shit. I don't think she was stressed over my class, but I just feel sick. My other students said that they tried to visit but were turned away, or I'd see if I could go visit her. She's such a bright star of a person, but I know she's had a rough time getting to where she is.
This entry has kind of morphed here. I didn't start out planning to mention her. I'm just worried. And wishing I had finished the day with one of the students who thought I was great, instead of one who thinks I'm Satan. Shit.
Friday, December 09, 2005
This morning we picked up our brand new Subaru Outback. Pretty. Atlantic Blue Pearl. We have named her Nimbus. (Jay's cloud fetish showing.) And thanks to my dad, the bank owns very little of it. It's a manual transmission, so I have to relearn how to drive a stick. I learned in 2004 on Jay's old Subaru, but I haven't actually driven a manual since that summer, so I need a major refresher.
And I realize that I sound like a student essay here... been reading for grading all morning and the pattern starts to stick after a while. Gah. Shoot me.
Of course, we've been getting snow up here... looking out the window, I see it's just now stopped. Now, I like snow. It's very handy for xcountry skiing, makes the dark Vermont evenings look a little less dark, and looks so pretty on the trees and all that. However, I don't really care for the white stuff when it's on the freezy roads. And of course, that brings us to "old car... oops".
I generally don't drive in the snow. Jay is a borderline (ha! more like TOTAL) control freak, and it's easier for me to let him drive than it is to listen to him freaking out in the passenger seat. As a result, I haven't driven much in bad weather for a really long time. Sadly out of practice.
Roads didn't seem too bad on the way to the dealership this morning. I kept an eye on Jay's speeds to gauge how fast I could go on the way home. Unfortunately, it kept snowing while we were inside signing papers and making nice, and the conditions didn't exactly improve.
Because of my long lapse in manual driving, Jay had to drive the new car home, and I had to take my poor old Oldsmobile with its crap tires and faulty heat system (low traction and an icy windshield - Lucky me). I made it through the first intersection and up the hill to the Interstate on-ramp. And then... wheel turned, tires facing one way but continuing to slide instead of turn... sliding very gracefully, very gently, off the snow-covered pavement and onto the embankment. Thought for a moment that I would be lucky and the edge of snow and grass would stop me, but after a slight pause, I slid down the hill sideways.
I will say this for Vermont. No fewer than 5 people stopped to see if we needed help. One guy even got some boards and things out of his truck to try to give my car some traction, and then helped push from behind, but no dice. Had to call the tow truck. Our only consolation was that we were definitely not alone in sliding off the road today. Tow truck comanies are raking in the bucks. Fifty from us, in fact. Sigh.
But we have out lovely new Nimbus, complete with the standard All Weather package that includes heated seats and heated windshield wipers. Oooh ahhhh. But I think we're still going to need to invest in snow tires.
I miss my mild western winters. Sniff.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
So. Back to the neglected blog. Understandably, I think, I just couldn't string any sentences together last week after I finished. My fingers are just now regaining their feeling. But I'm back, and I will make an attempt to be slightly more interesting than I have been. (Sadly, this should be all that hard.)
As the title suggests, Aunt Ethel is not, perhaps, the most charming of women. Her husband left her millions when he died, and her son now manages the family fortunes, leaving Ethel to do... hell, I have no idea how the woman fills her days. Not doing charity work, I'm pretty sure.
She is a hardcore Republican, not because she believes in the values and ideology of the party, but because rich people are republicans and poor people are democrats. In Ethel's world, anyway. She is unabashedly racist, and treats us to her views on all those of non-western-european descent. There's no arguing with her, because the intake valve on her brain is entirely faulty. She only hears the things that you don't want her to hear. Usually things that start with "She's &*@^! nuts. Did you hear what she just said?!?!"
This year, she had us all write our initials on our plastic cups so we wouldn't waste so many. Good idea, I thought. However, when she looked at my initials (which are KEG, by the way... my students think that's hilarious), she says "But jayslastname doesn't start with "G"!" And when I replied with the usual comments about "married not adopted" and "decided not to change his name, so I decided that I wouldn't either..." She came back with "Well, I'm not saying that you're less of a person if you don't change your name...." If she weren't so comically over-the-top, I might have been offended. As it was, I just had to leave the room so I could laugh and not fall over in the kitchen. Heh.
Oh, and then when she found out what the "G" stands for, she busts out with "What? Are you a Jew or something?" Followed by a lovely rant on some of the Jewish people she knows and how dreadful they all are. I wish I could recreate the exchange, but my mind was so busy going :holy crap, she IS nuts. totally wacked. good lord, can I get in a word here?: that I wasn't paying close enough attention to retain the random insults she came up with. I do recall telling her that as far as I knew, I didn't have any Jewish ancestors, but that there were plenty of drunks and fools in the bunch, which was probably why I fit in so well with Jay's extended family. I don't think she really processed that, but Jean (her sister, Jay's g-ma) thought it was pretty funny.
And so Ethel's legend grows. We'll add this year's comedy to the time that she slurped some spilled King Louis Cognac from the counter "because it's too expensive to waste", the time that she commented on evil women who leave their husbands and steal other people's men while Jay's father's girlfriend was at the table, and countless other drunken and tactless comments that she's made over the years.
Ah, Ethel, just keep on telling it like it is. The Jersey gatherings wouldn't be the same without you.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
The holidays were interesting down in Jersey, as was expected. The holiday itself featured Aunt Ethel, Jay's great aunt, a woman without a scrap of tact or liberal sentiment in her body. But liquor? Oh, there's liquor in them thar veins. She really deserves an entry all to herself, so I'll just save that for later.
We ended up renting a car down in White River Junction because my poor car is a bit sporadic with the heating thing, and we were just about frozen by the time we got down there. Likewise on the drive home from WRJ on the way back Saturday afternoon. Rented a beauty of a Passat - leather interior, sunroof, sport drive, etc. - and cheaper than usual because of some holiday deal - definitely worth it.
There was knitting (by me), playing of the black keys (by Jay's dad), soup cooking (by Jay's sister), antipasta eating (by all), and much laughter and insults (again, by all). And of course, because my laptop battery is deader than dead, I didn't write a word for the four days we were gone. This is going to be interesting. I've got a little over 19K to go. In three days. Not as bad as last year... I'm sure I'll finish. I hope.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
This week is Thanksgiving break - one whole week! What this really means is that I need to get cracking on that NaNo project. I'm only at 20K right now, which means I need to write 30K in 11 days. Doable, very doable.
But I'm banning myself from the blog world until the end is in sight. Also, we're heading to New Jersey for Turkey Day... so things will be more quiet than usual around here.
Check back after the 28th.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Next week we have the whole week off for Thanksgiving break. Thank god. My students are all sick and look like they haven't sleep in months. I certainly can think of a few things to do with my days when I don't have to be here at the college.
I could catch up on my NaNo writing. So far I'm at about 15,000 words. Seeing as today is the halfway mark, I'd prefer to be at 25,000 words, but I'm not out of the running yet. Last year I had to write the last 29,000 words in three days, and I managed. Somehow. If need be, I can do it again.
I could speed knit my second sweater. I started it this past weekend and I'd like to have it done in time to wear for the holiday. We shall see. It would probably be easier if I would just follow the pattern, but I just can't do that. No. I look at it and say, well, sure, that's cute. But it could be so much better if...
ohmigod. I just had a flashback to my high school art teacher, Mr. Schenefelt. He would stand next to us while we were working, just watching for a while, asking a few questions maybe. Then he would say, "That's not bad, but it would be so much better if you..." and then he would lop off a clay arm, or punch a hole in the side of a vase or splash some strange color on the side of a sculpture. We hated it and thought it was hilarious anyway.
One of the guys who was also taking the film studies class.. or television production.. or something like that... (Yes, I went to a high school with a primo arts program.) produced a short clip called "Art wiiiiith.... MISTER SCHENEFELT!!!!" The actors were all puppets. Two students puppets are very ernestly working away on two clay figurative sculptures when the Mr. Schenefelt puppet comes up behind them. He speaks his trademark phrase, and the camera zeros in on his face. Then the puppet throws its hands in the air and the camera pans upward. Chunks of clay fly through the air and you can hear the student puppets sputtering and Mr. Schenefelt humming to himself. Camera pans back down. Two lumps, barely recognizable as figures remain. One student puppet faints. The other covers its face and sobs. Mr. Schenefelt pats him on the shoulder and says, "There, much better, don't you agree?" and then bops off screen happy as can be.
I still laugh thinking about it.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Some of the recent comments reminded me that I've only been writing about the crappy stuff lately. Mostly, I think, it's because this crap stuff is so shocking to me. I mean, my students' issues, the general idiocy of institutional politics and regulations, and my tangle with the law are not what I've become accustomed to.
So, some of the good things:
- 70% of my meals cooked by Jay, often with leftover privileges granted.
- Both time and money enough to indulge in my reading and knitting habits. Seriously - since September I've knitted 8 1/2 scarves, 2 hats, and a sweater. Read upwards of two dozen books, plus listened to a handful of books on tape.
- A ridiculously nice sex life. (perhaps too much info, but you'll live.)
- Parents who only scarred me for life in interesting ways, and not in ways that left me crippled in any sense.
- Siblings who understand what it is like to deal with our parents.
- Internet access, my link to the outside world.
- My 3rd year of NaNo, progressing in a respectible manner, if a few thousand words behind schedule.
So while I may mention the outrages and headbanging idiot bits more often, things are pretty damn good in my life, and I do count my blessings daily.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
So, I admit it. I was slack about getting my vehicle registration changed over to Vermont. And, yes, my Utah registration expired in August - the month we moved here. However, first time registration needs to be done in person, and here this involves no less than 2 hours of driving round trip to get to the DMV (department of motor vehicles). There is a "mobile unit" that stops once a week in a nearby town, but not on a day I can make it.
This weekend I drove down to Windsor, Vermont to visit my old roomie, and on the way home, I encountered Officer Vigilent. Man berates me for no less than 30 minutes, accuses me of having no insurance because the card I had in the car expired a few days prior (new card was waiting on the table when I finally did get home...), and forces me to park my car in a nearby parking lot, and tells me that I better not try to sneak away until I register the car. When I asked how I was supposed to register the car if I couldn't take it to the DMV, he barked, "Do it online!"
Well, hate to break it to you, Officer Ass, but as a new resident of Vermont, I cannot register online. See, there's this little clause about "visual verification" of the VIN (vehicle identification number). And the DMV employees... they don't usually have psychic powers. Else why would they be at the DMV?
I ended up calling my friend on the last juice of my cell phone. (And I told him before he left that I thought my cell phone was dead.) She picked me up and helped me find a car rental place that was open on Sunday, and I rented a car and drove home.
So yesterday, I printed out and completed all the forms, grabbed the title from the filing cabinet, took the correct insurance card, and went back down to Windsor, returned the damn car, took a taxi back to the parking lot, and drove to the state capital. Nearly had a heart attack every time I saw a state trooper. Now that's just great, eh? What a brilliant reaction to have ingrained at the sight of someone who is supposed to "protect and serve".
Of course, to accomplish all this, I had to cancel my afternoon class yesterday. I left home around 9:30am and didn't return until 4:30pm. But he sure taught me a lesson, didn't he? I don't mind paying the citation. I earned it. But to make my life a living hell for committing a crime of lazy paperwork? Holy shit. So wrong.
Monday, November 07, 2005
Details later, after I get it all resolved.
"WELL WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?" Imagine an extremely militaryesque patrolman asking me this question over and over while also telling me that I better not dare try to drive that vehicle anywhere, and you'd have a grasp of why yesterday sucked.
Suffice to say... Utah registration expired + visiting a friend in Windsor + ultra-hardcore State Trooper = misery and stress.
Oh, Vermont, how you continue to disappoint.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Thursday, November 03, 2005
My student mentioned in the alcohol debacle below will be finishing out this term and then leaving the college, but his own decision. I can't blame him.
Another student recently lost both her jobs as a result of a car accident (long story) and since her mother was just laid off as well, they are facing eviction.
Yet another broke down in my office, apologizing for his jerky behavior this last week... he's stressed out because two different girls on campus are claiming to be pregnant with his kid.
I'm stressed out just hearing these things. No wonder so many of these students don't make it to graduation.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
If you start out writing words of one or two syllables, often without bothering to check your subject-verb agreement (commercials is), and largely without regard to punctuation, and then you throw out a paragraph full of words like "sophistication" and "deregulation" complete with perfect semicolon use... better believe I'm going to Google that sucker.
We call this plagiarism. This will get you kicked out of school. See: Academic Honesty, chapter 2.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thoughts from Kate's brain
- Now I recall why it's called an insitution of higher learning. And the inmates are definitely running things.
- Can you really expect people to act like adults when you insist on treating them like children?
- I really like to knit, but I'm not sure what about it I really like. Maybe yarn really is a drug.
- I still don't understand rhythm and meter, but I really enjoy poetry now that I found this collection.
- God, I miss sunshine.
- You really can't learn anything until you admit that you don't have all the answers. I'm glad I've learned this, but I wish my students would pick up on it soon.
- No, for real about the sunshine.
- Maybe I'll knit something yellow....
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Today, one of my better students told me that he's not sure if he will still be enrolled after this week.
He really screwed up a couple weeks ago, landing himself in the hospital with both alcohol poisoning and a concussion. Now, this is clearly a Bad Thing. He knows it, he owns it, he has expressed both regret and deep disgust with himself. Either he's the best liar I've ever met, or he really gets it.
He has told me that a member of the administration has repeatedly demanded to know the names of the people who supplied him with alcohol, threatening him with expulsion if the information is not forthcoming. He refuses to name names, feeling that it is not his place to participate in a type of "witch hunt", especially in light of the fact that while he knows who he started the evening with, he does not clearly remember the particulars. Excess alcohol consumption combined with a mild head injury do not usually contribute to perfect recall.
Perhaps the administrator has a very good reason to be concerned about the student's behavior, and also with finding out who is leading these freshmen into temptation, as it were. And perhaps the student is exaggerating the threat. But I still have a few problems with the situation. I'll try to explain.
Our college has a code of conduct that all students, faculty, and staff are expected to adhere to. It includes requirements of speaking "honestly" and "respectfully" to others. Threats and intimidation don't seem to fit into that. It includes the practice of "personal integrity". How does encourgaging a student to testify against his friends fit into that? It includes learning from other's experiences. But don't we learn more from our own experiences? The student seems to have learned the right lesson from his experience - that drinking to excess is a really bad idea, one not to be repeated, as it threatens his chances of survival and success. What is to be gained by threatening him and treating him like a criminal? What happened to that final component of the code: demonstrate compassion?
I'm not talking about a kid who mouths the appropriate apologies and goes on doing exactly the same things that got him into trouble in the first place. I'm not talking about a kid who is failing most of his classes for lack of effort. I'm not talking about a kid who ignores every chance given to him to make a change. As I said before, some students are not ready, or even interested in college. But even the ones who are make dumb choices occasionally. And neither should be treated with such disrespect. Bitch in private. (I do) But when that student is in front of you, maybe listening would serve better than lecturing.
I don't know. Maybe I'm naive. Maybe I'm being inconsistent. I don't know.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
So now that I'm healthy again, I was all excited to teach this morning because my early class is a bit behind and I thought we could catch up today. Fifteen minutes into class, I twist around and bedn over my notes for a moment, and PING - back goes out. Out, out, brutally and irretrievably out. Feels like a spike being driven through my spinal cord about three inches above my tail bone. Nauseating, sickening pain shoots through me every time I move. I thought I was going to throw up right there in class.
Somehow I pulled it off, mostly by allowing them to work together in pairs on the practice assignment. We're still trying to master the identification and repair of fragments, run ons, and comma splices. (If it's not a complete, independent clause, it's a fragment. If there are more than one independent clauses separated by only a comma, it's a comma splice. If there are more than one independent clauses without any punctuation between them, it's a run on.)
Been grading the other class's rough drafts since then. It's not pretty. Some of them are only lacking specifics in their supporting examples. Some of them seem to be utterly unacquainted with the priciples of logic. The worst of them are a jumble of apparently unrelated, yet repetitive statements. No, I don't know how that's possible either, but it is.
Yesterday some members of the class accused me of making them feel stupid. I told them that they would feel less stupid if they did the assigned work beforehand instead of trying to do it as we corrected it. Also, paraphrasing Phil,my psychologist uncle, I said, "I can't make you anything. You choose your own reaction to my words." Which, when you think about it, is just another way of saying "I don't make monkeys, I only train them." But I don't think they would have appreciated the Pee Wee Herman reference as much.
But thinking more about their complaints, I realize that my problem is that I see these kids more than I see anyone else besides Jay. I have been talking to them as if they were my peers, and they are not. They are my students. So I guess I need to cut back on the sarcasm, and save it for people who appreciate it. Bah.
1. Delve into your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas…
5. Tag five people to do the same.
From October 26, 2002:
"I have to admit, there aren't many things as satisfying as stabbing a big ol' knife into the top of a pumpkin and scooping out the guts."
How can you argue with that statement? I stand behind it one hundred percent.
As for tagging others... most everyone has done this by now, or has decided that it wasn't worth the effort, so let's just let it slip quietly into the blogosphere.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
If you are reading this, leave one memory of you and I together. It doesn't matter if I know you a little or a lot, anything you remember. Next, post this in your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you.
**stolen from Devan
And for all those people who have never met me... how did you find me and why in the world do you keep coming back?
Friday, October 21, 2005
There's been a spate of "blogoversaries" lately, so I thought I would mention mine. I started this in October of 2002, just as I was starting my masters program and mere weeks before Jay and I moved in together.
I don't think anyone but me read it during the first year, but I wasn't writing for an audience. I've always kept a journal, either handwritten or on my computer, so taking that a step further and blogging didn't seem like much of a stretch.
I had some of my grandmother's journals, handwritten and filled with clippings, and I feel like I got to know her a bit that way. Otherwise my memories of her would have been limited to her weaving/crocheting my baby blanket and singing "Old McDonald" because she died when I was only two years old. So the thought of someone reading about my thoughts and experiences didn't really phase me... why write if not to allow the words to be read?
But I've also always been rather introverted. And by that I don't necessarily mean shy, though I definitely can be in some situations. I mean more that it generally doesn't occur to me to reach out or communicate with other people most of the time. I find it awkward to leave messages on other people's blogs, because I can't imagine that they would care what I have to say. Though once someone else comments on my blog, I feel obligated to return the exchange. No, not obligated. Pleased, rather. I enjoy the interaction, but it would never occur to me to initiate it. Does that make sense?
In any case, I've blathered on here, more-or-less continuously for the last 36 months and expect to keep on for many months more... because I like to.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
My students finally broke through my immune defenses and passed along their colds. Started out Tuesday with a raw, scratchy throat... Now the sore throat is mostly gone, but I'm fevery and weak. Tried to teach class this morning and gave up after 15 minutes. I just couldn't form a coherent sentence. So I collected their homework, assigned more for next week, and sent them back to their beds. And now I'm going back to mine.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Or, Why Jay is Like a Puppy
The Jersey grandparents were in town this weekend, this unendingly rainy weekend. I love Jean and Lou, but I also love my free time on the weekends, something that doesn't happen when you have guests. But at least they weren't crammed into our apartment... living in B&Bland does have its benefits.
I actually did get a break on Saturday, when Jay played tour guide and drove up around the lakes with them. Poor Jay Puppy didn't get any downtime, though, and certainly no exercise. And when Jay doesn't get exercise, he becomes very, very cranky. Sulky, whiny, snippy, cranky. I must have threatened to kill him in his sleep at least twenty times. (He is still alive and mostly well, thanks.)
See, my eleven mile trip to the town to the south of us was silly. Just silly. All that way for yarn and Earth Balance was just too ridiculous.
And my car? My car is awful. It smells, it's starting to overheat, it's running rough. WHY oh WHY haven't I done something about it? Don't I KNOW how to take care of my car. (Note: when it's running, it's OUR car. When there's something wrong, it's mine.) (Also Note: the car did overheat and is currently at the garage for repairs and maintenance... so what he's saying isn't untrue, just unkind.)
But mostly, besides the idle death threats, I mostly just laugh at him when he gets like that. First, because sometimes I can be a cranky wench as well, but also because I know he's just venting some of his stress. Normally he goes out and runs for five or ten miles, or hikes up a mountain, or bikes the trails around us, etc. When he doesn't get a chance to exercise until his brain shuts down, however, all the work stress and perfectionism explode outwards in bursts of nastiness. Puppies chew slippers, Jay snipes at me. Both problems can be prevented by forcing the creature in question to run back and forth until he can't run no mo'.
The grandparents left this morning after we dropped off "my" car, dropped Jay at work and me at the car rental place. So maybe I'll get my sweet, lovable puppy back soon... and trade in the hellhound.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Mr. Smartass violated some school rule (drug-related) and is getting kicked out. He, of course, thinks it's vastly unfair. (I mean, what do they really expect from him? He's young and having FUN.) :shaking head and rolling eyes:
I do not think I will shed any tears over this. I do hope, however, that he figures out why he got kicked out... because he is a bright guy with the potential to do a lot of impressive things in this world. If only it weren't for the extreme Narcissism. Ah well.
So for anyone listening to VPR (Vermont Public Radio) yesterday around 12:30pm, the "expert" commentator discussing the forecasting of last week's storm was my lovely husband. Gasp. So proud. After he stopped heavy breathing into the receiver, he did quite well, I thought.
Good job, sweetie.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Holly has an interesting link to commentary about the Red Cross and New Orleans and where all the donated money is going. I think I'll have to find a new charity.
Word of my outburst spread to the students who were not in class. (We heard you really FLIPPED OUT.) And I had a little "come to Jesus" meeting, as one of my colleagues last year used to call them, with my biggest head case. I don't think he will pass the class, but I told him that if he turned in absolutely everything from now on, he still had a chance. I doubt he will take it. I doubt that I still care one way or the other.
After listening to the news this week, I've decided that my NaNo project this year will be an apocalyptic tale, set in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, featuring a romantic subplot. Heh. I don't know how it will turn out, but it should be interesting to write.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Consider that Pittsburghese for flipping out on my students.
But really, in terms of flipping out, it was really pretty mild, following a two step progression.
1. Smart ass student who has missed 6 classes, complains that he doesn't understand something that should be simple review. When I tell him that he must have missed it when he was absent, he makes a face and turns around in his seat to talk to the guy behind him. (neither are passing at the moment) He continues to talk to the guy, distracting from the quick grammar lecture I'm giving. I tell him to stop talking. He says, "I'm sorry, Kate. I'm really sorry." To which I reply, "You're always sorry, but what you really need to be is quiet."
Startled silence from the class, a few surprised looks. Lots of "ooooooh"ing.
2. Smart ass comments continue. More general talking while I'm at the board. I lose my train of thought and become so furious with the blatent disrespect that I can't continue. I turn to the class and hiss, "I am soooooo furious with you!" which I quickly amend to "Well, not all of you, but... Just check your grades. Just check your grades and see how you're doing, eh?"
Dead, stunned silence.
Silence continues and I am shocked to find how easy it is to get the lecture done now. A few students continue to ask relevant questions and I answer them. The rest of the class remains quiet.
SO.... clearly I have been way too nice to these kids. As a result, they've become disrespectful and smug. That's my fault. I own it. And even though it's hard to shift from being "easy" to being strict, I know it can be done. My other education books insist that it's never too late to fix your classroom. I hope they're right.
As much as I hate losing control like I did today, I think it might be just what this class needed.
We shall see.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Sign ups for National Novel Writing Month started Saturday, October 1st. Everyone ready? Right, me neither. Not quite, anyway. I'm trying to decide whether I should start the third book in my fantasy trilogy, even though the second one still isn't quite finished, or if I should do a romance (maybe with a contemporary fantasy spin) set in Pittsburgh, which we've all agreed is populated by rather odd characters to begin with.
I'm leaning towards option #2. Mostly because, while I THINK I know how book two ends, stories have a way of changing (usually for the better) in the process of writing them. So.
And just to sabotage myself further in the actually-getting-writing-done department, I just bought Diana Gabaldon's new book. And on top of that, I bought Neil Gaiman's new book. And on top of that I bought new yarn and a new knitting book... well, I suppose I better finish those before November 1st rolls around and I have to get back into the habit of writing 1667 words per day (on average).
But, strangely, all that doesn't sound so bad, eh? Heh.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I'm employed next semester as well. So exciting.
What's even more exciting is that neither of these classes meets at 8am. College students are not awake at 8am, and truth be told, neither am I. But since I have to be up in front of the class anyway, I prefer not to be talking to a... box of hammers, shall we say.
I'm tempted to hold a mirror in front of their faces, just to see if they're still breathing. Anyone have a spare stethoscope?
I let them out about ten minutes early almost every time we meet, simply because they never say anything - no questions, no comments, no nothing. If I didn't call on them specifically by name every once in a while, I would have no idea what their voices sound like.
Make-a me craaazy.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Friday, September 23, 2005
After doing the place meme the other day, I remembered that I've been meaning to do "a unique things about Pittsburgh" blog entry for a while now. Hopefully I can clarify some of the confusion. (Not likely... heh.)
The "Pittsburgh left" – If you are the first driver making a left turn at an intersection which has no turning arrow, the oncoming traffic will wait for you to go through before they do. Only the first car, mind you. Second driver has to wait until the end. But it's standard operating procedure in my hometown. It wasn't until I went away to college that I discovered that not everyone thinks it's normal.
Steak salad – an Eat'N'Park staple – kind of like a chef's salad, but with thin sliced steak, French fries, and melted cheese.
"O" fries are from the Original, a greasy corner joint in Oakland (the hospital and college district) that serves huge orders of french fries... the best you've ever had. They also serve other kinds of food, but I've only ever seen people get the fries.
Primanti Brothers is another Pittsburgh classic. Of course, don't be fooled by the spelling. It's pronounced "Permanni Bruhers" or simply, "Permanni's". At Primanti's the sandwiches are served with cole slaw and French fries... between the bread, not on the side.
Most people have at least one Polish and/or German grandparent, so kolbasi (kolbassa) and sauerkraut are common and tasty. So are the pierogies. Yum.
Hoagies... subs... grinders... all the same thing.
Jumbo = bologna
And yes, we always had chipped ham in the fridge when I was growing up. Is this really not a common food item? It's just very, very thinly sliced ham.
Arn = Iron , as in the ever-present Iron City beer. To my knowledge, I have never consumed one.
And food shoppin... also known as grocery shopping, is done at Jine Iggle, also known as Giant Eagle – the local chain of food stores.
Jay can't stand it because he says it makes people sound so stupid. But I like to think of it more like a secret code that only the members can understand and recreate.
Here we see:
'N'at – short for "and that" or "and that sort of thing" This can be added to almost any statement. Try it.
Yins – a truly horrid expression which is a contraction of the equally bad "you... ones?". Alternate pronunciation is "yunz" and can be heard in such phrases as "Yins guyz goen dahntahn t'night?
Turbl Tahl – the true pronunciation of "Terrible Towel".
Gumband – a rubber band, or a hairband as used for a ponytail.
Slippy – slippery
Crick – creek
Red up – to "Ready up" or to clean up.
Jaggerbush – umm... it's a jaggerbush. A bush with prickers on it. Thorns. Whathaveyou.
Jaggoff – a jerk – someone who is jacking off instead of doing what they should.
Ahia – Ohio
You guyses – your. Example: Can I borrow you guyses truck?
still mill – steel mill
Zillionopal – Zelienople, PA
'Sliberty, E-sliberty, or Wesliberty. – East Liberty and West Liberty, neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Pronunciation depends on how lazy the speaker really is.
'Hilinpark' – Highland Park
The Point – the land at the confluence where the Allegheny and Monongahela join to become the Ohio.
You think I'm joking?
There are millions more. The general accent is just super lazy speech – no dipthongs, no hard consonants in the middle of words, the less one has to open one's mouth or move one's lips, the better. (color --> keller. Sewer --> sore. House --> haas.)
And we Pittsburgh natives take an odd pride in our linguistic quirks. There's many websites dedicated (or not so dedicated) to the exploration of the phenomenon.
Maybe I'll set my first non-fantasy novel there... certainly wouldn't lack for "keller".
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The ones in bold are true, if not for me, then for people in my family. The other ones are just plain scary.
You Know You're From Pittsburgh When...
"Hey Yuz Guyz" is your traditional greeting.
You know the time and location of every Wing Night in a 10 mile radius.
You know the location of the following towns, know someone from them and have spent time there: Monongahela, Altoona, Bethlehem, Ligonier, Harmony, and Wilmerding. (I've actually been everywhere but Wilmerding...)
You've memorized lines from the movie "Flashdance".
If you're a guy, your biggest fear is seeing your best friend drive into the "fruit loop". You're second biggest fear is seeing him drive out with Kordel Stewart.
If you're a girl, you're biggest fear is getting hit on by a hairy-chested man, heavily weighted in gold chains, who refers to his friends as "junior" at Chauncey's.
Your latest cultural experience: On your way to partying at Slippery Rock University, having to stop your car to let the Amish buggy cross the street.
As your out-of-town friends brag about their latest trips to Europe, you think to yourself, "Polish Hill will suffice."
You eat out at least once a week at a mafia-owned Italian pizza parlor. (Yum yum)
Your father has worked for the same company for over 20 years. (Over 50 years.)
You don't see what all the hype is about Disney World when Kennywood is just around the corner. (Now, Epcot Center... that's a different story.)
You're having a hard time on where to take your date out for dinner and a night on the town: - "meat on a stick" in the south side and the guzzling IC Light at Jack's... Or splitting an order of "O fries" and guzzling IC Light at Peter's Pub.
" N at' " is eloquently added to the end of every sentence.
You've taken deliberate field trips to the Andy Warhol museum.
You water ski on the Youghiogheny River Lake.
You feel the only good bands out there are Donny Iris, Joe Grushecky, The Blue Oyster Cult, and of course.... Rusted Root.
You're more worried about Jerome Bettis's health than your own. (true for members of my dad's side.)
You own more than one original Terrible Towel. (Doesn't everyone?)
You don't understand what all the hype is about for Rolling Rock beer. You've been drinking it for years, although Penn Pilsner is better.
You consider a great vacation a trip to Conneaut Lake or Lake Erie. For something a little more exotic, a trip to the Jersey shore.
You're 35 years old, have never been outside of Allegheny County, and don't see the need to leave. (Not me, but members of the extended fam.)
You only own four spices: salt, pepper, Heinz ketchup, and the bottle of Trappey's Red Devil you swiped from Primanti's.
For the life of you, you can't understand why your all your out-of-town friends don't get the "fries and cole slaw" thing... (Well, I know why they don't get it, but they are WRONG.)
You have 101 favorite recipes for kolbasi and sauerkraut.
Words like: hoagie; chipped ham; pop; and gumband actually mean something to you.
You can use the phrase "Firehall Wedding" and not even bat an eye.
You walk carefully when it is "slippy" outside.
You often go down to the "crick".
You have to "red up", before company comes over.
You've ever gotten hurt by falling into a "jaggerbush".
You know that Ahia is a river, a boulevard, and a state.
You've ever "warshed" or "wershed" the laundry.
You know you can't drive too fast on back roads,cause-udda-deer.
You've drank an "Arn" .
You've told someone to "quit jaggin around".
You know that Clinton, Monaca, and Beaver, are actually names of towns.
You've called someone a 'jaggoff'.
You hear "you guyses", or "yins" and don't think twice.
You hate Cleveland, although you've never been there.
You drink "pop", eat "hoagies", pierogies, and gyros(jy-rows).
You know what a still mill is.
You can find Zillionopal on a map.
You go 'food shoppin' at 'Jine Iggle'.
You believe that "Ize" is the abbreviaton for "I was.
You know someone from 'Sliberty, E-sliberty, or Wesliberty. (Actually, genius, Sliberty and E-Sliberty are the same thing.)
You know the Pittsburgh Zoo is in 'Hilinpark' and have been there for school field trips.
You know what is meant by "The Point".
Chipped ham was always in your refrigerator when you were growing up.
You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Pittsburgh.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
I just couldn't take it anymore. I've been overdue for a haircut since... May, or maybe April. Gah. My hair had gotten down past my shoulders again. And my hair, past my shoulders, becomes a limp, straggly mess of split ends.
I did think about growing it out and doing the chop and donate route for one of the companies that makes wigs for kids who lose their hair due to illness. But I think you need to cut off at least 11 inches for them to accept it. And I just... couldn't wait that long.
So while we were in Burlington running various errands over the weekend (including switching our cell phones to new Vermont-based numbers!) I stopped in at the local mall salon. I like those little mall salons for their anonymity and also because you can usually walk up without an appointment and get in within 15 or 20 minutes because they're busy enough to have several stylists.
So I got in, sat down, said, oh, "I'm not picky, just cut it to about here with a few layers up front." And as she started to cut, I thought: hmmm... that's a little shorter than I was thinking... But then I decided to just see what happened. My hair grows so fast, that even if I hated it, I wouldn't have to live with it very long.
My hair hasn't been this short since I was four years old and my mom took me to a real salon for the first time and they chopped my little wisps right back into a bowl cut. It's not a bowl cut now, of course. :shudder shudder:
Now, it's barely jaw length and my neck feels very exposed. But it's cute. I never would have requested it this short, but I really like it. I think I might have to go back to see that stylist next time - she did such an awesome job. That's why I don't like to give too much direction to the people cutting my hair: I'm not picky, and I've gotten some of my best haircuts by being vague, and some of the worst by being very specific. I like to leave the details to the experts.
And now that my hair looks this good, I need to get down to the gym so my ass can match. Heh.
Monday, September 19, 2005
When I was starting to look at colleges, my mother said to me: "Don't take this the wrong way, but once you leave, don't come back."
Seeing the odd look on my face, she went on to elaborate. She explained something about getting away and living my own life and not getting tied to the chaos and patterns of home.
And perhaps now that seems kind of harsh, but at the time, our family was a... mess. My dad was an inapproachable, alcoholic, walking disaster. My brother was getting arrested on a regular basis, and couldn't seem to control his rage. (During this time, he kicked in the screen door to our house, and also punched several holes in the drywall around his and my bedrooms.) My mother was sleeping on the couch, and had been for a year or two by then. (Last year she returned to a twin bed in the room my parents again share.)
But then there were my sisters. I felt responsible for them and I was pretty much terrified about them living there without me to run interference. But I wanted to get myself out of there just as much. So my mom's advice didn't sound so odd. It sounded pretty good to me, in fact. Like permission.
So I left and I really haven't gone back. Oh sure, I visit. I even lived with them for four months after coming home from four months in France after college. But I always had an escape plan. But in many ways, I feel like an outsider when I am with the family. Not with all of them, and not all the time. But enough.
I don't know who I would be today if I hadn't managed that escape. I'm sure I wouldn't be as happy or confident as I am. I think I might have slipped back into the familiar and miserable roles of my teenage years - acting and reacting as the people around me expected me to.
I moved to the Grand Canyon in 1999 because it seemed like a safe place to think about who I was and what I wanted out of life. I thought I would be there for a year. But in the first year I fell into a relationship with another smart, self-loathing guy, and all my old passive-aggressive, martyresque behavior resurfaced. After we split up, I decided to take another year to figure out what I'd gone there to figure out in the first place.
So my second year at the Canyon was my Hermit Period. Lonely, but useful.
I'm set now - mostly broken away from the old habits and patterns I hated but couldn't seem to break when I lived at home. My escape was successful, and necessary for my continued sanity and survival. I know that. My mother knew that. But that doesn't mean that the choice or process of escape was easy, or that I don't sometimes regret being on the outside of family conflicts and situations.
I'm a better person than I was before - better at communicating, better at making my own decisions, better at staying objective when I need to be - so I know my choice was the right one for me.
And that's what I have to say about that.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Maybe this has something to do with my recent feelings of isolation and frustration...
Just checked my cell phone bill. And clearly, for the amount I am using it, I am paying WAY too much.
Usage since last month
Peak Minutes: 2
Off Peak Minutes: 1
Weekend Minutes: 21
IN Calling Peak: 4
IN Calling Off Peak: 0
Yes, I spoke on my phone for a monthly total of 28 minutes... But at least this allows me to laugh at the sales people who try to get me to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Hah.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
To give myself another distraction... in the line of thinking that says "just keep too busy to think about it and it will work itself out"... I'm playing with the colorscheme around here.
I just couldn't stand the purple anymore.
So it's not done, but I need to get out of here. I'll play around with it more tomorrow.
I'm having another harsh burst of hating this place.
Perhaps that has something to do with the motherfucking humidity which makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs and never fucking stop.
Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am not liking this whole college environment thing. I feel like my task is futile, and everyone expects failure. Not necessarily from me, but from these students.
Maybe it has a little to do with both and more to do with neither.
Whatever it is, I am so freaking NOT HAPPY right now that I'm just not sure how to handle it.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
As I read through the usual blogs, I see that most, if not all, have commented in some way on Hurricane Katrina.
I made my comment by donating to the Red Cross.
As I have never been to New Orleans, never experienced a hurricane of any size, never worked in a rescue organization, never tried to communicate with and transport large numbers of people, never lost everything I own, etc. I simply don't feel qualified to express an opinion on what is going on now. I've rarely expressed anything political here and I don't intend to change that.
My heart goes out to the survivors and rescuers working in the Gulf Coast now. Good luck. I'm hoping for the best.
EDIT: I found this link from Holly's site. It's a donation collection plan coordinated by a bookstore in Maryland and Nora Roberts. Looks like a good one.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
So, as I've mentioned before, I'm not real big into the whole guilt concept. But with family, it's always a little more complex. Just a little, she says...
I truly feel that guilt doesn't accomplish anything on a personal level. Or that its destructive and unhealthiness far outweighs any positive results. What I think I'm trying to say, in a convoluted way, is that even if you do the right thing, doing for the wrong reasons isn't going to help you much as a human being. It might help the people you're helping, but it won't help you.
So you can sacrifice yourself on the altar of your familial guilt... Always bailing your son out of jail when the calls come in at 3am because you think that his mistakes must stem from something you did... Always helping your stepdaughter move from one nasty apartment to the next (yet again), because no one else will, and she's family... Always rushing home (or never leaving in the first place) to fix the latest crisis because you know you can handle it better or faster or whathaveyou than anyone else... Just to draw some examples from my own friends and family.
But who are you really helping here?
I think this kind of guilt-driven behavior is kind of nuts. Acting like the martyr who will give up your own live/schedule/etc because you feel like you owe someone something only seems to encourage bad behavior from the beneficiaries of your rescue. They learn that you will always bail them out, so you have to do it more often. You get resentful that they're taking advantage, so you start getting bitter and nasty. Next thing you know, people are wondering when you lost your personality and turned into a giant asshole-martyr.
All right, MAYBE I'm taking this argument to extremes. But I'm only describing behavior that I have witnessed myself. And even been guilty of myself, at times.
When you put yourself last, you have, strangely, even less of yourself to go around. And whether avoiding that trap means that you take an hour to read every evening, or that you go out with friends once a week, or that you get your hair done once a month, or that you go out and run every morning... whatever it is that you need to do so that you feel like YOU, do it. Because otherwise, you'll be miserable. And from experience, a miserable person cannot make other people happy. (Unless they're sadists, I suppose...)
So that leads me into the subject of escape...
(to be finished in Part 3)
Friday, September 02, 2005
I probably won't get the chance to finish my last post until after the weekend, so I thought I would fill in with some less deep material.
I decided to learn how to knit. So on Sunday I bought this book.
On Tuesday I bought some cheapo yarn and knitting needles from the local variety store. (No, I had never heard of variety stores before last month either...)
On Wednesday I finished my first scarf using only "knit" stitches. That night I taught myself how to "purl".
Thursday I spent a few hours mastering "increases" and "decreases". I still haven't learned to knit "in the round" because I don't have the right kind of needles yet, but I'm ready for some good yarn to really get to work.
Now if only I could learn to throw a frisbee. I mean, throw it where I WANT it to go. And not, you know, onto rooftops or into busy roads or up in tall trees. It's just pathetic.
Convocation was yesterday. Jay looks so pretty in his new dress... I mean... robe. Regalia. That stuff. Though I've never seen a hat made from a velvet pillow before... but still cute. Heh.
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Recently, we've had a bit of family drama. We being my siblings and I. Most of it sprung from poor communication, misinterpretation of sarcasm, poor timing, general cluelessness, and not a small dose of preconceptions and fear.
Without going into detail... hmmm. Harder than I thought. Let's stick with the basics. I hope it's not too vague (or too specific!). This weekend my brother Rob called K2 (the 21 yr old) with "news" about K3 (the 18 yr old). K2 then called me (K1), very upset, not sure what to do about the "info" imparted by dear Bubby Rubby. I advised her to talk to K3 before taking any action. I also got a voicemail from Rob.
When he and I finally connected, he told me rather alarming things about K3. As usual, he spoke with complete confidence and conviction. He explained what he was thinking about doing in response to K3 alleged actions. Then he asked what I thought he should do. I didn't really have any solid advice, so I said that I would contact K3 and let her know about Robby's intentions.
WHY the boy did not just confront K3 with his suspicions in the first place is totally beyond me. I talked to her, she confirmed that she did make a few comments that could have been misinterpreted, but only because Rob came at her when she had friends over and was on her way out the door. She felt harrassed, so she laid out the sarcasm, not thinking that Rob would take her seriously. Oops.
Anyway. I asked her not to shoot me as the messenger. Agreed that Rob's issues weren't really her problem, but that if she didn't talk to him, he might make them her problem.
But you know what the worst part was?
I don't know my baby sister well enough to be able to speak on her behalf - to say to my brother that K3 is not like X - that she wouldn't have done what you think she's done...
I mean, I left home when she was not quite 8 years old and I never really went back. That's 11 years. Is it any wonder that we don't really know each other?
And so I have a wish list of regrets in regard to K3. I wish I had spent more time with her on my breaks from college. I wish I had showed more interest in her life. I wish I could be more patient with her as she makes "mistakes" in her life. Etc.
At the same token, I can't undo the past. And I've come to accept that I was too unhappy and bewildered in college to have been very good company to her - that I never forgot to contact her on her birthday or other special occasion - that patience it not a trait my family has much of...
(to be continued...)
Monday, August 29, 2005
Or maybe not so lazy. Saturday, put in a couple hours at school, but mostly just surfed online while Jay did work, because I only have a key to my shared office, and everything else was locked up for the weekend. That includes the room where my computer prints out... But no biggie. I've got it all taken care of today.
We headed home to meet our friends J. and A. (you might remember them from my comments on their wedding last year, and their subsequent visit to us out in Utah). They'd won a trip to some condo/resort up at Jay Peak, about 45 minutes from our place. A. seemed really cranky when she got here, but I'm not always my best after a car trip either, so who knows. We headed out pretty quickly to go up to Lake Willoughby, with the intentions of hiking one side of the gap and then cooling off in the lake.
The hike went fine. A. is really out of shape and the climb was a definite struggle for her, but she kept a good attitude for the whole 3 miles up and 3 miles down. Not bad considering it was the first peak she'd ever climbed. We let the guys go ahead on the way down, and she and I had a nice, normal conversation the entire way. With me alone, she was happy, sunny, even, dare I say, perky. The minute we got back to J. she changed. Shut down. Became sulky and passive-aggressive. Like a totally different person.
Things only got worse when we got to the beach. The closer beach was really crowded, so we decided to check out the west cove. Well, the west cove is gorgeous, but is "clothing optional". A. does NOT do nudity. Being naked is "ugly and wrong" and she became borderline hysterical when confronted with the possibility of seeing nude adults. She "doesn't even like to be naked in the shower".
So we went back to the first beach, and started to wade out into the water. Now, I LOVE to be in the water, and I haven't had many opportunities to go swimming in fresh water recently. (HEY - something GOOD about Vermont!) So I was out there pretty quick. A. seemed to be doing okay, but then she just freaked out about the fish in the water. We're talking minnows here, nothing even half as large as my little finger. What I don't understand, is that when I pointed them out as we were wading after the guys, she had no issue. When J. said something to her, all of a sudden she was freaked out. I don't get it.
From there it just went down hill, and they ended up dropping us off at our place and heading back to the condo. (to watch TV?) They wouldn't even consider staying for dinner, like we had assumed would happen. So Jay and I were left baffled, waving goodbye and renewing our bets on their imminent divorce.
Serious therapy needed on both ends, but I don't think either of them will get it. So either they split, or they make each other miserable forever.
But Sunday was a nice, fun, lazy rainy day. Read books, bought new books, bought groceries, made lasagna, read more books. Not a bad life.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I have an office!
And office that I will be sharing with three other people, and one that has a tone of empty shelves and bare walls, but an office nonetheless. So I can stop hauling all my crap around with me and shove it in the corner instead. Yay!
Now if only I had a corrected contract and access to the college software that holds my rosters and grading abilities, we'd be all set.
But one step at a time, eh? One step at a time.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Evidently, this is embedded somewhere in the new hire materials for the college. I say this because the last two days I've spent hours and hours in utterly useless meetings. Frankly, if there are more than two (possibly 3) people at a meeting, it becomes a pure waste of time. Nothing applies to everyone, so many people end up sitting around listening to brain cells die while they wait for a few nuggets of information that might be relevent to their needs and job description.
And very few people in academia seem to believe in a concept I call punctuality. The only things that will make me late are bad directions or intestinal aggravation. And I feel that the first is usually not my doing, and the second is really better dealt with before entering a poorly ventilated room of people.
The people in the department seem friendly and willing to help, even though no one can answer a question to save their lives. Now, given a month, or even a couple weeks to prepare for a class, I would be perfectly happy to peruse the fifteen books that other instructors have used for this class and choose the one that I think will work best for me. HOWEVER. Classes start in six days. SIX DAYS. Just hand me two books that worked really well and tell me to pick one. I cannot assess fifteen different books in the next two days. At least, I can't do it well. And I hate not doing things well.
Other than that... I still don't have a signed contract because they goofed and listed it as 8 credits instead of 9 and I refused to sign it and trust that they would fix it later. (Do I look so (stupid) trusting to you?) SO I still have no class rosters and no access to email or any of the other software I will need. Brilliant, really.
Did I mention that bit about SIX DAYS? Hmmm. So I did.
I also don't have an account on the master "z" drive, so I can't really save any of my work, since I don't have a permanent computer... nor do I travel with portable disk space. Oddly enough.
But I swear, I'm not as cranky as I sound. Promise.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
And off the network... so spur of the moment posting is still all I can do. As if I ever did anything but...
We drove down to Jersey on Friday for Lou's 80th Birthday. (Jean and Lou - must be said with heavy NJ accent - are Jay's grandparents.) They held it at a Turkish restaurant, complete with belly dancer entertainment. The look on Lou's face - priceless. When he discovered that the dancer had been arranged by Cousin Mike, he said, "You're responsible for this? Thank you." Jay's sister Sierra said it was the most sincere thank you she'd ever heard.
All in all a nice little trip for us. We drove back to Vermont yesterday with stops in Paramus, NJ at Campmor for some new outdoor gear and at a craft store for more stuff for me to paint, and in Hanover, NH for dinner. My favorite Chinese restaurant is gone... shocking. So we ended up at a Thai place that didn't exist when I was a student. Lots of changes to campus and to the town in the last seven years.
Well, and lots of changes to me as well, I suppose.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I can't even think of a title for this post.
Just got my official "offer" and "contract" from the college. Choke. They seem to be counting one less credit than was mentioned, and the pay is significantly less than $1000/credit, which is what one of the other instructors mentioned.
So. This is going to be a lot of work. And I'm not sure it's really worth my while. I mean, I could probably make more subbing at the various schools in the area. AND, with the times that these classes are scheduled, I won't be able to sub at all... not good. I'd really like to turn it down. But I don't think I can afford to do that. One, because of the small town issues, and two, because it might not be good money, but at least it is certain money.
We're heading out in a few minutes to go on the faculty/staff paddling afternoon on Lake Willoghby which should be fun. I've met a few of the other faculty and staff, so perhaps I'll meet them more thoroughly. Which I should do. I've spent the last two days speed painting a CD bookshelf - just scroll work and a few flowers, so nothing as complex as my Utah Shelf. I'll have to post pictures of that one of these days. If we ever get web access at home... but don't get me started on that.
Strangely, painting and listening to some good celtic music had me chilled right out... until I picked up the mail today that is. I bought a Dervish CD in Burlington this past weekend - Live in Palma, 2 disc set - and it was quite excellent. The last time I ever saw my grandma (adopted) before the Alzheimers took over was in Pittsburgh when I took her to a Dervish concert down in Oakland. God, that was so much fun. So listening to them reminds me of how lucky we were to have her as a surrogate grandmother for as many years as we did.
Other good things about pseudo-isolation: lots of reading and writing time. I've started on a revision/read-through of my second book with the intention of finally finishing the damn thing. I have to reread it because I've forgotten so much of it. Sadly, my 2YN project over at Forward Motion seems to have died out. I just don't care about it anymore.
Alrighty - must go. Lake calling.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Maybe it's just a question of who I've met so far, but I have to say that the people around here have been much less welcoming than the ones I knew back in my beloved Mountain Time Zone. It's almost as if newcomers are such a novelty that people don't know what to do with them. So they ignore us.
We went to Burlington this weekend... actually Vergennes... for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament that Jay played in. Conversation was attempted several times, on both our parts, to little avail. Jay was fine as long as he was talking about the game, but I had nothing so interesting to say, apparently.
Here's a fairly typical representation of my attempts:
VTer: Um, what was your name again?
Me: Kate. I'm here with Jay. So where did you come up from today, Vter?
Vter: Oh... Lebanon area.
Me: Jay and I just moved back to New England from Utah. Its...
Vter: Oh, uh huh. (turns away like hearing more might kill her.)
I guess I'm just bewildered by the lack of interest in other people I've encountered here so far. Back West new people are treated like entertainment... someone with new stories and possible interest in the things that interest you. It's a traveling crowd, with individuals who have seen people and places all over the world and are generally happy to share them.
And food. To show up somewhere without food and drink to share strikes me as rude, and not a little bizarre. Yet no one else brought anything, or so Jay tells me. I didn't waste my time at the fields after the first three hours of being invisible. We fed the young'ns at the campground in the morning, and off-loaded most of a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies as well.
Does this come from the people here having rarely been outsiders themselves? Because truly, once you've been the new kid, you never forget how it feels to have someone reach out to pull you in. I haven't felt so totally invisible since... since... um, since the first week of college maybe?
Anyway, it was a thoroughly disappointing experience. I can only hope that things improve once the semester starts up. Otherwise I think I'm going to find that Vermont has even less to recommend it than I currently suspect. Natural beauty and outdoor opportunities only go so far.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Still no real computer access though, so I'm, going to have to keep this short again.
I did get the job with the college. Perhaps not ideal, but I think it will be a good experience and this way I will have a definite income instead of piecing together substitute teaching gigs. I'll have two classes with the English department for a total of 9 credits - one regular Freshman English, the other a remedial course for at-risk students. Similar to what I was doing at Sylvan, but on a different scale. Pay isn't great, but since I get my benefits through Jay, I don't really have to worry about that aspect.
Hiked to the top of Burke Mountain on Saturday - all the way up to the top of the firetower there. Amazing views of the area - Adirondacks to the west, White Mtns to the east - beautiful sunny day. Excellent all around. Sunday I suggested a bike ride... we took it easy, mostly stuck to the roads, biked up to the ridgeline and tried one of the easier trails. Sadly, I think it confirmed for me that I am not a mountain biker and never will be. I just don't enjoy it at all. So I'll be looking for a good, but cheap, road boke sometime soon. With only one car in the family, it would be good to have a reliable second form of transportation in case I need to get into town while Jay is off doing some crazy outdoor thing that only he would find fun.
Alrighty - off to check out the local co-op with hopes that they will sell food that we actually eat, because the local big grocery store is pathetic. Organized like a disorganized child with a short attention span, and staffed by similar. Also, disappointing selection. I can't really think of a reason to go back. There's a smaller grocery closer to us that has most of the things we buy, but is still missing a few of our staples. Sometimes it is really challenging to eat well. Argh. I miss our Wild Oats. A lot.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Of the college's computer lab, that is.
Well, I interviewed with the English department chair today, and unofficially they offered me two classes - 9 credits total - which would put me close to the income I had last year, actually. Officially, she said they had to go off and "talk" before it could be an official offer, but that she would call me soon. So. Hopefully that will work out.
We also are almost totally unpacked, except that we need a few more bookshelves, and I'm not willing to settle for cheapo ones. All the ones that I have now are the wood, stacking, folding shelves. Because, frankly, particle board sucks ass, and the ability to fold flat has great charm when I know we'll be moving again within the year.
Anywho... quick check of email and then it's out into the humidity for us.
OH - and we can't get the wireless access at our house because they maxed out their service capabilities and have to build another tower... We're having the cable guys come by to evaluate the possibilities for getting cable access instead. I do love me my cable internet hook up.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
I keep repeating that to myself.
We don't get cable in our village, so we can't use our cable modem. Instead, we will hopefully be able to get the (ridiculously overpriced) wireless service, except there's a backlog and it might be another month. We're having trouble getting a land line set up because the phone company has been holding on to a unpaid bill from Jay's college days (6 years ago)... and despite never contacting him regarding this charge, they now want $259 before they will grant us the honor of their service.
And even though we can't get home delivery of our mail, we must pay a yearly charge for our PO Box... which they had to change on us last minute (after we forwarded all our stuff, of course) because the lock on the originally assigned box is broken. Hmm.
The insurance agent only works until 12:30 on Wednesdays, so we'll have to try THAT again tomorrow... and we just ate lunch at a really awesome little restaurant that doesn't accept credit cards... good thing our new bank is right down the road.
And we keep getting mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Jay Sgonnagetit. Which pisses. me. off. Dude. And yes, I know I need to chill.
And the condensation from our toilet forms a small pond in the floor. And there are bugs. Which have eaten half my ankles off. And the place smells rather like wet dog. Which we are working on... though if anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Right now we are going with the open windows and vacuuming method. Sigh.
Bitch bitch, moan moan.
But the trip itself was good - got to see a lot of people. More on that later, because it definitely is story-worthy. Like my twenty-two year old hottie cousin who has decided that women under the age of 35 are not worth his time... and is currently "exploring monogamy" with his 38 year old girlfriend. The kid has already had quite an interesting life. He'd be even cooler if he could toss the grudge he holds against his father for years of imperfection. And he doesn't have much patience with other people's weaknesses. But that's what comes of being a very talented twenty-two year old. I suppose.
Alrighty - I'm out of time. Hopefully I'll be back before another week passes.
Friday, July 22, 2005
We're almost there. Tomorrow we pick up the truck and start loading. Jay is packing his computer right now, but I'm holding out to the bitter end. The fact that I have an iBook makes it much easier to do, of course. It has very little to do with my Internet addiction, I swear. Yeah.... right.
I've been offline for longer stretches. Nearly six months of no contact at all when I first moved to the Grand Canyon in 1999. But I wasn't quite as invested in the whole thing then. I didn't have my own web site, and the sites I did frequent were just starting off. Hence, less content, and still easy to catch up on even after several months away. Now? Oh, hell, I don't even TRY to keep up.
But email is my chosen medium of communication - I suck at leaving voicemail messages and no one I call ever answers their phone. Mostly for legit reasons, I think, but still.
Now we're trying to mentally shuffle our stuff with the space we'll be moving into... and it's just not working. We might have to ditch some stuff at my parents' place in PA. I don't want to stuff the new place and be tripping over stuff every time we turn around. No thanks.
So I might sneak back here for one last post before we head out. If not, I'll see you in August. (And I've decided to ditch Haloscan... now it's started eating comments that I know had already been read by me. Grrr. Now that Blogger has a commenting system, maybe I'll try it instead. But no changes until after the move.)
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Yes, it's about 5am and I am awake. I've been awake since 4:14 and I just couldn't stand to lay there anymore. My back aches from packing and all my dreams have been about fricking packing!!! Aaaaggghhh!!! I hate packing!!!
Why is it that the more tired I am, the less easily I sleep? Murphy's Law in action...?
Sunday, July 17, 2005
You would not believe how much dust we are stirring up with the whole packing thing. It's like a sneeze factory. But, we are getting a ton of packing done.
The plan is to be completely packed (except for clothing, toiletries, and the bed) by Friday night, then load the truck on Saturday with help from the grad slaves, stay at a friend's house Saturday, clean on Sunday, stay over again Sunday night, leave early on Monday morning.
Last night we had a party up at our friends house - just appetizers, drinks, and desserts - pretty mellow. Nice to see most of our friends before we take off, and the ones who couldn't make it, we should be able to squeeze in before next week. I just can't believe that we'll be gone in eight days.
Friday, July 15, 2005
For some unknown reason, Haloscan is showing "0" comments, even though I have several comments when I click the link... very strange.
Also, to answer the most common question we've heard in the last few days: no, I am not pregnant.
Also, I'm not changing my name because I don't feel like it. And no, I don't think this will be terribly confusing when we have children. But thanks for the concern. (Note: these comments are addressed to people who don't actually read this site, but it's awfully cathartic to bitch it out here.)
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Wedding Pictures Just a sampling from my camera - more to be added when the others send them to us.
Surgery Pictures A few old ones in this file, but the glory of my nose surgery recovery is documented here... though the green bruises look more yellow than green. Alas.
Jay and I just returned from the Salt Lake County Clerk's office where we eloped at 3pm this afternoon. In an odd coincidence, both witnesses who signed the certificate were Canadian, and all our witnesses were over-educated science geeks. All in all it was quite nice.
I didn't burst into uncontrollable laughter, and I only rolled my eyes once when I had to say "wife".
Pictures to be posted tonight.
(We are still intending to do a ceremony and party next October to include the many people we were unable to have there today.)
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
First rejection received today on my first ever submission. A rather positive refusal, actually, including the words: "It was the quality of writing that kept me reading to the end, despite the slow beginning."
So. Yeah, I'm not good with beginnings. And really, the beginning was more for the short story challenge that inspired me to write it in the first place. Perhaps I will edit and try again elsewhere.
Or perhaps I should inquire as to whether they would be interested in seeing it with the suggested changes? I'm not sure.
Monday, July 11, 2005
I saw this on both Sheila's and Holly's blogs and couldn't resist. Funny little quiz - and surprisingly short.
by Hermann Hesse
You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in. This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in ferries.
Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Friday, July 08, 2005
So. I wrote the note below before I left on our VT trip so I would remember to write about this. And then, of course, I forgot. Until now! Ah, the excitement.
From the time I was 3 until I was 14 and a half (back when the "and a half" mattered so much), I was a gymnast. During those years, if I had to think of words that defined me and would allow anyone to pick me out of the crowd of my peers (those bastards), the four to do it would have been: smart, blond, shy, gymnast. So, clearly, a large part of my identity at the time - and the most significant identifier I've lost in the intervening 15 years.
One of my earliest clear memories - other than ones that involve headers from the top of sliding boards - is of the day in the gym when I learned to say "no". Oh, yes.
When I was three years old, I started going to Gymkhana, a relatively new gymnastics club started by three friends: Alison, Ed, and Elliot. Alison has since moved out of state, Elliot has shifted from coach to business manager, but as far as I know, Ed still coaches team. When I started, they all coached all levels, including we midget beginners. I was a fairly timid child and Ed scared the living daylights out of me. Imagine a six foot tall, lanky guy with crazy curly red-brown hair and beard, and a big nose.
Well, I also had 1 friend in my class, a girl named Chelsea Dice. I don't know how I remember her name, because it's probably been 26 years since we set eyes on each other, but there you go. One day, Chelsea did not show up for class. I didn't know anyone else who was there that day. So, with 3 year old logic, I decided that there was no way that I was going to get out there on the floor mat with everyone else. Not without a friend to protect me.
My mom was unimpressed. Probably because getting me to the gym required a bus trip with myself and Bubby Rubby... and I can only imagine how fun that must have been. (My mother's bus-riding stories can make me laugh until I cry.) She would not let me leave. Ed didn't think I should leave either. I tried to explain that I couldn't stay because Chelsea wasn't there. But Ed told me that I could, I was just choosing not to. And if I chose not to, then I had to sit with him during warm ups and all the way through the rest of the lesson, too. Horrors!
But I did sit with him. I remember sitting in his lap on his scratchy hairy legs and watching the other kids warm up and being so determined not to cry, even though I was soooooo angry. And I sat out through balance beam, and bars, and even trampoline (my favorite!). And then, I must have gotten tired of just sitting there, because I decided to participate on the floor rotation even though I liked floor the least.
Why is this memory so clear? Perhaps because it was the first time an adult has talked to me seriously about the differences between "can't" and "won't" (never say can't!). But more, I think, has to do with the fact that my mom was so annoyed with me that she grounded me from having ice cream for three days. And three days is a long long time when you are only three years old.
So basically, when peer pressure rolled into my life, I was pretty well immune. I mean, if I'm not going to cave to the horrors of having to sit on a scary man's lap and losing my ice cream privileges, WHAT really could change my mind?