Saturday, December 29, 2007

bring on the new year!

I developed the blood clot in late June. So basically, I spent half of 2007 dealing with a serious health issue. To say it's been a struggle would not be an overstatement. I tried not to whine about it too much, but hey...I'm only human.

BUT.

Whoo fucking hooo! The doc says I can stop taking the anticoagulant. I have to confess that I stopped taking it last night in anticipation of what I hoped she would say.

It hasn't helped my self-esteem much that one side effect of the anticoagulant was bleeding joints. It has kept me from regular visits to the gym, and even my attempts at daily walking were curtailed in November when my right hip and knee simply wouldn't cooperate and the pain became near intolerable.

Over the five months on the med, I gained about ten pounds. That may not sound like much, but it became one clothing size, which was quite disheartening considering my efforts at weight loss.

But Tuesday is a new year, and one that will be accompanied by healthier eating and some serious working out, and...no anticoagulants! I have two smaller sizes of clothing packed in plastic containers under my bed to get back into, and I'll take no prisoners on my way.

Only one dim side to this -- I had to stop taking birth control pills, and I won't be able to take them again. The risk of another clot would be too great. Heck, who's to say that they didn't in some way contribute to the current former clot? So anyone that is worthy of my attentions in 2008 had better be prepared to live in condoms until I am well past menopause. Hey, I'm just sayin'. ;)

So, cross your fingers all, that once the anticoagulant leaves my system, the clot is gone as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

whoo hoo, new music!

So I made a trip to the library for new music. Gotta love getting good tunes for free. I have to start taking my mp3 with me though, as four of the cd's I picked are already on my 'puter.

But, new ones:

Robert Johnson, the Gold Collection
John Lee Hooker, the Millenium Collection
Miles Davis, the Essential Plus
Jimi Hendrix, the Millenium Collection Smash Hits
Chick Corea, Akoustic Band
Ella Fitzgerald, the Best Of
Diana Krall, When I Look In Your Eyes


Yes, it was very blues and jazz focused this time. I'll probably go again Saturday before the doc appointment and switch these for some good old rock and roll.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

smoke your marijuanukkah

So today I went with rugrat to pick up her boyfriend at the hospital. Well, at the bus stop a mile away from the hospital.

He broke a tooth about a year ago, badly enough that he was able to pull part of the tooth out himself. He hasn't been to the dentist (no insurance), and it's been causing him pain off and on ever since. It was so bad this morning that he got a ride to the hospital, where they gave him oxycodone, ibuprofen, a serious antibiotic -- and instructions to get the damned thing pulled.

After taking the oxycodone, he felt better and walked a mile to a bus stop that would take him home -- forgetting that today is christmas, and the bus is on a holiday schedule. By this point, the nausea that sometimes accompanies oxycodone and strong antibiotics has sunk in and he is utterly miserable. Rugrat had tried to call him a few times and he wasn't picking up, so when he finally called her back, she came to me to ask me to please pick him up.

We brought him home with us so that he could sleep off the pain med in peace and quiet (he has two brothers at home). When he woke up, I fed him ginger ale and cream of wheat and eggs to ease his nausea so he could take his antibiotic and pain med later in the day (his mom worked all day, but I don't get the feeling that she's a particularly nurturing sort). His brother finally came and picked him up at 11:30.

Tomorrow first thing, his mom is dropping him, on her way to work, by a dental clinic for low-income people to get the tooth pulled. He planned to take the damned bus home afterward, but I nixed that. No way he's getting on a bus after getting a nasty-assed, infected tooth pulled. So I get to pick him up tomorrow AM and bring him home so he can sleep of the meds in peace and quiet (again, the brothers) while rugrat is at work and I putter around the apartment.

It's a good thing I really like her boyfriend, isn't it.

Leaving you with one of my all-time favorite holiday songs: Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.



Oh yeah...whatcha think about the new look?

Monday, December 24, 2007

holidays, schmolidays

I've never been much for the christmas holidays. In fact, if I didn't have the rugrat at home, I probably wouldn't even have put up the tree this year. But I did. And rugrat put the ornaments on.



And since rugrat's boyfriend couldn't come over on christmas day, and she wouldn't leave her mami all alone, he came over on christmas eve day and I made my homemade enchiladas. We'll heat leftovers tomorrow, but I'll make flan for dessert too.



Of course, life is boring around here, and she took off earlier for her bf's house and won't be back till midnight. So I sit here alone on christmas eve. Which I have no doubt will be the story of my life once she moves out.

She'll be with her bf on new year's eve as well, spending the night with his family. And so I suppose my plans will be to go to a movie. Or order a pizza and something on pay-per-view. Now that's excitement!

Friday, December 21, 2007

working without a safety net car

Getting around without the car is fine when you can hop a train for the city. It's a bit more complicated when I'm hanging out at home.

The bloodwork on my calendar today meant a bus ride to/from the lab, on an empty stomach (it was a fasting test).

Then I stopped in the village to buy a second gift for the mother figure, 'cause I didn't think that a framed photo of rugrat's senior picture would satisfy her. And gawd knows I will bend over backward to satisfy her till the day she dies, to avoid the verbal fallout of not making her happy.

Then a stop at the post office to get a box to mail her gifts. The frame is 16x20, which requires a large box. Cause they can't seem to make a box larger wide and long without also making it freakin' huge in depth/height.

Then a stop at the deli for their $2 ham sandwich and a walk back home to finally eat.

After eating I found plastic carry bags big enough to take rugrat one's and the mother's packed boxes of christmas gifts and carried them back into town to the post office. They were heavier than I'd thought they would be. I could feel my arms and shoulders straining toward the end of the walk.

At the p.o., I had a minor accident lifting a box up to the counter that separated the nail of one finger from the nail bed. This entailed some minor bleeding. And remember, I'm on anticoagulants. So I'm trying to conduct business while ignoring the slowly seeping blood under the nail of my middle finger on my right hand.

Rugrat one's box was heavy (gifts for him, his wife, his stepson) and it cost $29 big ones to mail priority (so they'd get it by christmas). Then the mother's box. It was oversized, so they said there'd be an additional charge to send it priority. Meaning $30, despite the fact that it was less than half the weight of rugrat's box.

What, I almost shouted. You mean the box that you helped me buy an hour ago, knowing I wanted to send it priority? You didn't tell me when I spent $3.50 on the box that it would cost so much to send priority. Nah, that would actually have been helpful. So I had to send it regular mail, which means she won't get it for christmas, which means I get to listen to her complain when we talk on christmas day.

As this was happening, I shifted my body slightly which moved my boot, and I heard a crunch. I looked down, and the Zen earphones that I thought I'd tucked into my coat pocket were lying on the ground -- one of them under my boot. Yes, it's crunched, but it still plays sound, so I'll look for some superglue to put it back together.

After spending $53 to mail christmas gifts, I made my way to the grocery store to pick up a few necessities (still on foot). Then I carried the lot (gallon of milk, half dozen cans, mini-marshmallows, the cilantro that was highway fucking robbery at $2.59/bunch) home on the aqueduct trail. That would be an unpaved dirt trail that of course isn't shoveled, so the snow has melted to a solid sheet of ice.

Since I'm carrying a heavy bag and walking on ice, the strain on my hips to keep upright had me in a bit of pain by the time I got home.

Home to see that the mother's gift to us had arrived and been left by the postman between the door and the screen. I opened the box to discover that she had sent us candy. Candy from the diabetic who chooses not to control her food intake and is on medication, to the pre-diabetic who tries to control her food intake and get some exercise to stay off meds. How's that for an appropriate gift? And it wasn't her typical homemade candy either, it was cheap storebought stuff that I could have picked up myself if I'd wanted it in the damned house in the first place.

And instead of putting the candy in a plastic container to keep it fresh, she had put it on a flimsy christmas tray and covered it with a stack of paper towels, taping the paper towels to the tray underneath. So the candy not only fell loose all over in the box, it wasn't particularly fresh, and the paper towels were stuck to the candy in some spots.

Oh, and two more textbooks arrived in the mail today as well...both unsolicited. Guess I'd better get used to being bombarded with new textbooks every time I turn around.

Did nothing at all on the MFD.

I spent the rest of the afternoon with a heating pad on my right hip to ease the pain. Damn I hope I can stop taking this med soon.

I've posted this song before, but it has quickly become one of my very favorites. John Lee Hooker's Chill Out, with Santana on guitar. I played it through most of my walking today, over and over. Music doesn't get any better than Hooker and Santana.



Here's another one of them both. I don't have the recording of this one. It's good, but not as good as Chill Out.



OMG, and there's one with Hooker, Eric Clapton, and the Stones. Whooeee! Embedding has been disable for that one, so click here to see it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

stillness of heart

Grades were electronically input tuesday evening at 6 pm. I've already had one email from a student who insists that she turned in an assignment that I know damned good and well she didn't. Since she did not produce a copy of said assignment at any point during the semester to support her claim, I believe the grade I gave her was fair.

My first day off. What to do, what to do.

I slept in.

Washed some dishes.

It was cold in the apartment, so I cuddled back into bed and turned on the electric mattress pad.

Slept a bit more.

Ate some cocoa krispies.

Finished cleaning the apartment.

Showered etc.

Went down to storage to get the christmas decorations and tree (yeah, it's a fake...the asthma, you know).

Put up said tree but waited on decorations so rugrat could do that tomorrow.

Made a casserole for dinner.

Paid a bill.

Checked all my email accounts.

Slummed Puttered around alt till the the idiocy got to me.

Finally opened that corona I bought the night of the 'puter crash at work.

Searched the internet for a secondary text for one of my courses and ordered one to read next week (I can't seem to get completely away from work).

Made an appointment for the doc for next week to see about getting off the anticoagulants so I can start working out again.

Background music for today courtesy of Lenny Kravitz.



I'm out here on the street
There's no one left to meet
The things that were so sweet
No longer move my feet
But I keep trying
I keep on trying

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

I got more than I can eat
A life that can't be beat
Yet still I feel this heat
I'm feeling incomplete
What am I buying?
My soul is crying

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

Where is the love?
What is this world we live in?
Where is the love ?
We've got to be more giving
Where is the love ?
What happened to forgiving ?
Anyone ?

All that I want is
Stillness of heart
So I can start
To find my way
Out of the dark
And into your heart

Monday, December 17, 2007

dance me outside

Last week I strolled into grand central to the sound of tchaikovsky's nutcracker. During the holidays, they do a light/music show every half hour in the evening, and I manage to hit the timing right fairly often. You can't help but feel happier at the end of the day with music and lights in a building as beautiful as the main room of gct.

Walking in last week and hearing the music for the first time reminded me of an annual event for rugrat and I -- until we moved to ny and could no longer afford the nutcracker.

In spokane back then the nutcracker was affordable -- about 20 bucks for me, and a child's rate was available for the rr. They had the alberta ballet co. come down, and spokane's symphony orchestra is nothing to sneeze at -- it's pretty damned fine. And so once a year a magical night was had by the two of us. Until our first year in ny, when we discovered just how pricy tickets were (now they are roughly $100/per for decent seats).

I happen to have a recording of tchaikovsky's nutcracker done by the london symphony orchestra on my zen, so I put it on and have been listening to it off and on (more on than off) since. My favorite song should be no surprise -- the pas de deux (you know...the pas de deux). When the orchestra hits those crescendos, and she leaps into his arms, it really makes my eyes go all teary.

I found this version on youtube:



I also found this -- not the pas de deux, but damn, look how good they are together. It literally looks as though he is guiding her every move with some invisible I-don't-know-what. She's like a puppet in his hands. It's rudolph nureyev, but I don't know who she is:



(dance me outside)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I saw a man die tonight

In the subway tunnel.

Or maybe he was already dead when I happened upon the scene. How do you know when someone's last breath escapes their body?

The story from early onlookers is that this man sat down on one of those locker type things in a corner just inside the entrance to the 2/3 at Chambers Street. He carried a bouquet of flowers, and setting them down, he reached into his pocket and pulled out an inhaler.

But he waited too long, and before he could inhale, he passed out and hit his head -- hard -- on the edge of the locker on his way to meet the pavement.

People were afraid to touch him in case he'd damaged his neck in the fall, so at first, no one did anything but just watch him and tell metro staff to call 911.

Twenty minutes or more went by, and no emergency personnel arrived, so people began CPR. One doing chest compressions, one breathing, and one holding his head/neck as still as possible.

That's when I came down, saw the crowd, got the story, and asked if the woman doing compressions needed a break. I figured I could take over for her if she were tired. But they'd just started really, so she was fine. So I did the next best thing and backed off and out of their way.

And I watched them keep up the CPR for another ten minutes or so, waiting for emergency personnel. Two cops finally arrived, and that's when we discovered that either someone called the location in wrong, or dispatch got it wrong. Cause they were at Chambers Street, but on the J line. Right street, wrong subway. When they couldn't find the emergency, they had called off the search.

Then the EMTs arrived and took over. While the cops busied themselves putting up police tape to keep the subway goers from stumbling into the way, the EMTs pulled out and used a portable shocker, I believe. The IV followed. Intubation. And compressions all the while. They worked on him for a good half hour, and the whole time I kept hearing 'check his pulse.'

But no one ever said 'I've got a pulse.'

It wasn't all clean and white and antiseptic like on the telly. It was a dark corner in a dank, wet subway tunnel. He lay on cold, hard concrete, with ice water from the freezing rain trickling down through the ceiling and under his body. His body had remained perfectly still the entire time, other than the manipulations of the emergency personnel. He lay there dying among complete strangers. He wasn't an old man, perhaps mid-50s.

I think they were just keeping it going until the ambulance got there for transport. I know they prefer to pronounce DOA at the hospital as opposed to at the scene.

They finally slid him onto the backboard to carry him up to the waiting ambulance. And I looked over at the empty spot that had just been occupied by one dying man and a dozen various police and emergency people. Over at the big, beautiful bouquet of red roses still lying on top of that locker box he had used as a bench.

He wouldn't be bringing that bunch of roses to anyone now. He wouldn't be coming home at all. Eleven days till christmas. And he would never come home again.

And then I headed down the stairs to catch the subway. People bustling from the local to the express crowded the platform, none with any idea what had just happened above them. None but me.

One could ask why, if it bothered me so much, did I stand there watching through it all.

Good question.

I suppose I stood there because I so badly wanted to see things turn out better. I wanted to know that when they took him away, it was because he would make it home to give those flowers to the one they were meant for.

I wanted to hear someone say

I've got a pulse!

Like on tv. The christmas miracle and all.

I waited for it. But it never came.

And then I remembered.

This wasn't tv.

It was life.

Or more accurately, death.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

this is not hollywood like I understood

So, it was the hard drive. Shot to fucking hell. It will be another three days before the new hard drive arrives and they can install it. In the meantime, I am writing with pen and pad, and trying to check emails at home. I mean, can you imagine the week before finals, and no office computer??!?!! I'll take my on-its-last-legs laptop in to the office with me tomorrow and try to finish my work for the week.

Things aren't helped by a return of the bloody week from hell. I started the semester bleeding nearly to death, and it appears I shall go out with the same bang. I am sorely tempted to just stop taking the anticoagulants right now, but I'm too fucking scared that the clot is still there. I keep telling myself 'soon...hang in there.'

My sections for next semester are full and still students are trying to get in. But it seems some of the students' flocking to me had more to do with my not knowing what was allowed in terms of sticking to my guns about absences and late assignments. They think me an easy, pushover prof. But that's ok, 'cause next semester all those students who signed up for my classes thinking it'd be a cake walk will have a very rude awakening.

Still on my Cranberries kick. This is Hollywood, from To the Faithfully Departed:

Sunday, December 09, 2007

and the daffodils look lovely today

I spent this last week working hard to get a little bit ahead. Wrote the final exams, read all the last minute papers, recorded grades. Then on Friday, I devoted most of the day to working on that new syllabus for next semester. The one that I was doing in conjunction with the faculty development workshops. All faculty in the workshop are supposed to submit their syllabus to the group next Friday for critique.

At 4:30 pm, all fucking hell broke loose in my work life when the computer crashed. See, I back up my work every Friday when I leave for the day. That means that at 4:30, I was oh, about an hour away from backup for the week. And the computer froze completely. Nothing worked, so I turned it off and then rebooted. And it cycled through boot to crash, boot to crash, endlessly.

The department secretary called the IT people, who said they'd send someone up. Then she told me that our computers were refurbished things, that recently the mother board had gone out on several of them, including hers, and that what I was describing sounded just like what happened to hers. Good to know. Perhaps someone could have told me that when I fucking started in August. If I'd known, I would've backed up my work daily rather than weekly.

This seemed to be the end of my ability to smile and take things in stride. I went back to my office, broke down, and cried like a damned baby. I'd tried so hard all semester to be positive no matter how stressful things were. And as much as I love my job, things have been crazy this semester. But I kept it together, kept going. Even my office mate said once recently 'You always have a smile on your face, no matter how stressed out you are.' I tried. I really did.

So the secretary left at 5 as usual, and I stayed in my office waiting for the tech. At 5:15, I pulled myself together and called the helpdesk to ask how much longer the wait would be. And was told that yes, my request had emergency status, but unfortunately, the tech had just left for the day. Before coming up to help me. He would continue the emergency status for the night tech, but the night tech was 'in the field' right at the moment and so he couldn't give me an estimate of when he'd be available.

I asked if I had to wait for the tech, and he said no, as long as the secretary was there to let the tech in my office (they don't have keys) it would be fine. Well, I said, of course the department is closed and the secretary gone for the day, it's 5:30 on a Friday, so I guess that means I'll wait till the tech gets here.

At 7:15, I made several calls to the help desk that went unanswered, so I left a messaage. At 8 pm, I called the college operator to explain the situation and ask if there were any other extension I could call to reach the tech. She informed me that the help desk was closed and they'd left for the day. There were night techs, but not at the help desk. She would ask them about my problem and call me back.

Well, the night tech claims not to have received the message about my emergency situation and wasn't coming. Seems no one gave a fucking damn that I was sitting alone in my office on the sixth floor, waiting. I thanked the operator for calling me back. And then I broke down and cried again.

This time it wasn't the stress, it was frustration over waiting for so long, and no one giving a fuck that I waited. I simply couldn't believe they would do that to me. I had lunch at 11 that morning, so I was, in addition to being completely freaked out about the loss of work, damned hungry to boot.

I pulled myself together for a second time that evening and headed for the subway and train, not even knowing if my work on the hard drive for this week was salvagable or if I'd spend next week recreating everything -- which will set me back a hell of a lot.

I wanted a beer, badly. I put my calming music on my Zen, first Legends of the Fall, then Tchaikovsky, but neither was doing it for me. I needed my Cranberries. And the Daffodil Lament.

I stopped by the deli in my village to pick up a Corona, realized I had eat nothing, bought a sandwich and soda, and made it home about 10:30. Of course, after eating, I didn't want the Corona, so it sits in my fridge for now.



This is a live version of Daffodil Lament:




(photo)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

the final countdown, or how could it possibly get any better than this

We are in the final countdown to finals week. Ten days of class, and then two days of finals for my courses.

Today I had a student come in to my office (several actually, but I'm only talking about one here). I had to re-advise him for registration for spring, as there was a problem with a math course. I told him to let me know if he had any more problems trying to register. An hour or two later, I had the following email message in my inbox:

"Thank-you so much for your help in selecting my spring classes, everything went well and i look forward on being your student once again. I know an execellent professor when i see one, such as yourself. Your methods of teaching are of very good standards and i will let my fellow human services student know."

As a certain blogger once said, "It doesn't suck to be me."

Despite the countdown to the end, I'm already looking at some small 'fun' books to complement the text books for next semester. You know, something that fits with the text content but is more inviting to read than a text book. Something that they can compare/contrast with the text and discuss in a final reflection paper. And since there is now a Barnes and Noble right around the damned corner from campus (how cool is that), I shopped tonight after work to find just the right books.

The introductory course will read the Delaney sisters book 'Having Our Say.'

The two interpersonal skills courses will read Torey Hayden's 'One Child.'

The policy course will read Bell Hooks' 'Where We Stand: Class Matters.' And I already started reading this one tonight, couldn't put it down.

I've moved from Legends of the Fall for my cool down on the train to Celtic Woman. Actually, I listen to it most of the time when I'm not doing the walk/work out. It's an incredible CD.

But it includes what I consider to be about the most beautiful song of all time: Ave Maria. I'm not even religious, but I have always thought it an incredible song. And Celtic Woman's version is the most pure of all the versions I've heard. And I found it on youtube and couldn't help but put it here. It sounds just like how I have felt lately. Serene.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

it's up to you to clarify

Sitting here on a Saturday night. It's quarter to one. I am -- and have been all weekend -- avoiding work that I need to do for classes this week. I've managed to read three chapters and prepare a reading-study guide for each, but that's just for one class.

I have two more classes to prep for.

And emails to write to friends.

And responses to comments on both blogs.

But all week I find myself messing around on the computer, ordering movies on pay-per-view, perving on porn, eating, and taking endless cat-naps.

I just can't get my mind to focus on much of anything for more than a half hour. And now the vacation time is almost over.



(the title of this post is the fortune in the cookie I had yesterday after a dinner of sesame chicken and fried rice)

(photo taken by me at the bronx zoo july 2007)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

i got the music in me

Things are still pretty crazy, but still in a good way. My thanksgiving break will be filled with work, but things are over for the semester as of Dec. 18. I think I may need to collapse physically for a day or two, but after that, I'll dig in to the MFD.

Still trying to walk when I can. When I get to GCT and hop on the train, I have to put something on the Zen that will bring me down from the walk and accompanying walk-music. Lately, that has been the soundtrack from Legends of the Fall.

I'm not much for soundtracks that are just a compilation of songs (except for the City of Angels, which I listen to often as well). I tend to like soundtracks from epic movies, composed speficially for the movie, like Last of the Mohicans, Titanic, and Secret Garden instead.

This is incredible (even if it was before Brad Pitt could act); just listen:



And speaking of music, I was listening to Muddy Waters (this one) the other day and discovered that he did the first version of I Just Want to Make Love to You, one I'd (very) naively thought was originally Foghat. But you just can't do better than Waters, can you:




Speaking of old blues, I picked up some John Lee Hooker too, at the library of all places, and I'm really diggin' it. Here's Hooker and Santana (another fave) doing Chill Out:



Anyway, rugrat made a cake today for her bf's 21st birthday. She also made him breakfast in "bed," pancakes, eggs, and bagel. Somehow, I wound up baking the actual cake (although she frosted it) while she made breakfast, and washing all the damned dishes as they took off to see Vivica A. Fox at the Beacon, courtesy of the bf's mother. The woman can't pay the rent, but she outdoes the rugrat's efforts at a 21st celebration with broadway tickets. Go figure. Oh well, at least they had fun.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

for goodness sakes, look at those cakes

I would wonder if anyone ever drops by here anymore, except that the stats counter keeps going up. But hey, no worries. I can't seem to find the time to drop by myself anymore. Apparently once the semester begins, it is all teaching, all the time, 24/7, till finals week. But we are on the home stretch now. After this week, we have four weeks left in the semester. And yes, I'm counting down. And I will fucking party like it's 1999 when the semester is over, yeehaw!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These students still amaze me. Talk about resilience. This week, one that started out as a challenge at the beginning of the semester, has had quite a turn around. And I learned this week that he saw his dad kill his mom when he was three. Dad went to jail, he went into the foster system. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Wasn't long before he was dealing drugs on the street. How amazing that he is giving college a try. And doing remarkably well. He has some emotional growing to do, but I truly think he will succeed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The faculty development workshops continue to give me such great ideas, and last Friday's was no exception. I decided I couldn't wait till next semester to implement this change, so I worked on something new over the weekend for two of the four courses.

I had my observation yesterday. I was completely stressed and panicked over it for about a whole week. I won't know how I did until the other professor writes up her notes and meets with me. But the eval is one of the major pieces through which the decision is made to renew contracts or not (the other pieces being student evals, service to the college, and ongoing professional development -- like these workshops).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The doc made a decision to keep me on the anti-coagulant for a couple more months. I need regular blood tests to be sure the med is at the right level in my blood. About a month ago, the level was too high, so we adjusted the meds a bit. Just lately, I'd been thinking my body was finally getting used to the meds as I wasn't bruising or bleeding so badly with every bump or scrape. But saturday's blood test revealed that the med level was too low in my blood, so now we have to adjust it again. But I figure it could be lots worse, so I just take 'em like I'm told to.

The doc told me to take a multi-vitamin supplement to help with the blood loss each month. It's been pretty bad, especially when you consider I was menopausal before this. I settled on Centrum silver, which has extra iron and a few other extras, and which also has a chewable form. Most multi-vitamins are freakin' horse pills and I hate taking horse pills.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm trying to keep up my walking. Last week I made it to GCT once (according to mapquest, it's 2.37 miles from my work), and the halfway point three times. It's hard to do the whole walk with my work schedule, so I at least aim for halfway. The halfway point gives me 35 minutes of brisk walking.

My leg muscles have decided to protest the sudden change from heels to flats. Maybe I should have made the change slowly, lol. Walking has been a bit of a bitch, with the muscle protesting from lower calf to about mid-thigh, especially my left leg. But I push myself anyway.

I had created a few playlists for my Zen before I started this job, but I hadn't used any of them yet. Last night, I clicked into one of them. Since a lot of you have been doin' the music thing, here's last night's playlist:

--Surrender, Cheap Trick
--Hello There, Cheap Trick
--For Goodness Sakes, Look at Those Cakes, James Brown
--Persuasion, Santana (very hard to keep up with)
--Don't Be Cruel, Cheap Trick (yep, the old Elvis tune)
--Oh Caroline, Cheap Trick
--Papa's Got a Brand New Bag, James Brown
--Everybody's Everything, Santana
--Jingo, Santana
--Get Up Offa That Thing, James Brown
--Everything's Coming Our Way, Santana
--Way of the World, Cheap Trick
--Same Old Song and Dance, Aerosmith
--S.O.S., Aerosmith
--California Man, Cheap Trick
--Sayin' it and Doin' it, James Brown
--Se a Cabo, Santana

There's just something about strutting down a NYC street to this:



Or this:

Monday, November 05, 2007

what not to wear when your waist is size 14 and the rest of you is size 12

Because really, you know they just don't make clothes that are bigger in the waist and smaller in the hips. Except maternity clothes, that is. And I'm not goin' there.

I can buy trousers that fit my waist and I swim in them just below the tummy. Which only makes me look larger, really. Or that fit my hips, and then I can't get the waistband fastened. So I've gone and done a big Stacy and Clinton no-no: elastic waist pants. No sweats, or anything where the elastic shows, it's hidden elastic. But elastic nonetheless. I have them in about five colors. Like this:



And then, there are jackets. Those suit jackets that either nip in at the waist -- in which case I'd have to buy it so big that my shoulders would swim -- or fit like a box. So what do you do? Cardigans. Yep, you resort to this:



And when you stand in front of the mirror and suddenly realize that those toned upper arms are no longer toned, and in fact sag disgustingly, you buy sweaters and blouses with sleeves that go down to your elbows, so that when you turn your back to the class to write on the chalkboard, the bottom part of your upper arms don't sprout wings that flap in the breeze and threaten to fly you away:



And I've already mentioned the shoes. No more heels for work. Can't stand or walk in them 12 hours a day. So despite the fact that heels elongate my legs as Stacy and Clinton would say (unfortunately, my height is in my torso), and despite the fact that size 9W flats make my feet look like boats, these shoes are fast becoming my favorites:



With these inside, the shoes are actually very comfortable:



I even decided fuck hat hair, I'm not standing out there waiting for a train without a hat. So yesterday, I bought this (in the chocolate, of course, dahling):



Which, as you have no doubt figured out already, pretty much makes me a middle-aged, frumpy, schoolteacher. Not a bit of fashion sense left in me anymore. 'Cause it's all about comfort now. To which Stacy and Clinton would say, 'buy for your biggest part and then get them tailored,' and 'style can be comfortable.' To which I would reply, in the words of Tom Cruise, who I have always disliked, from that one movie: 'show me the money.'

Friday, November 02, 2007

welcome to friday-ville

So, as I write, rugrat is stuck at a corner in ardsley with a flat tire. She called me frantic about a half hour ago, in tears. She'd pulled off of the main road onto a side road to get out of traffic,

but

unfortunately,

she pulled into

a dead end road

with no fucking street sign.

And you know triple AAA, they don't go out without at least the intersection street names, and they prefer an address.

Eventually she calmed down, and it occurred to her to check the maps in our car (we have detailed ones for the county) and figured out what side street she was probably on.

So now she waits.

She's not my baby any more, is she?

I think I might cry.

UPDATE: As of 10:30, the AAA truck still has not made an appearance. They have called her and told her they cannot find her. She has been instructed to go to the edge of the highway to wait and watch for them. Her cell phone battery is almost dead. And I can't seem to concentrate enough to get any work done at the office.

Further update: 12:15. Her cell is dead, I can't reach her, and the AAA local station said they drove up and down the road looking for her and couldn't find her. They basically gave up, but no one called me to let me know. I called the local police to discover that local residents had taken the time to report a strange car parked on their street that didn't belong there, and it matched the description of our car. They were dealing with something else in the area and couldn't spare an officer to check on the car. Funny how not a single one of those residents bothered to see if the single young woman attached to the car needed assistance. But the cops gave me the street name and I called it in to AAA. At this point, she's been on the street alone for four freakin' hours.

Final update: 12:30. She called me from school. Seems she got tired of waiting for AAA and went walking toward the village. One block away around a curve in the road she found a gas station, asked if they fixed tires, and drove the car one block to the station to get it fixed (you can't see the station from the corner of the highway she stood at). Resourceful girl, she is. I'm just very glad that this happened during the day. At night, she would have been all kinds of unsafe where she was.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

cause i'm special, so special, i gotta have some of your attention

So, in the academic world we do something called classroom observations. Adjuncts are observed, and full-time non-tenured faculty. Although I'm brand new, all FT faculty must observe at least one adjunct, so I was called on to observe a well-respected adjunct (my own observation by another prof is the 12th, and I'm nervous as hell). Last Thursday I stayed late to watch her teach (she teaches from 7:30-8:45 pm, which made for a late night).

Anyway, I'm tucked in a corner observing how she teaches and interacts with the students, how they respond to her. And as I'm watching her, I realize...that's how I teach. Seriously. The way I speak, my mannerisms, the casual interactions with the students. And this thought comes into my head. If I teach like someone who is considered well-respected, then I must be doing something right.

Right?

So then I start Friday in a really good mood, going into the first of a series of faculty development workshops that are designed to help us create assignments that are both great learning opportunities for the students and practice for the college exit exam (yes, there is a college-wide exit exam that involves reading, critical thinking, writing, summarizing, analyzing).

I love love loved this workshop! I already have ideas on how to make the coursework more appropriate for the students. I can't wait to make some of those changes for next semester. It was a really great learning experience for me (funny how that works, isn't it).

In the course of this workshop, I also discovered that the majority of the assignments in my courses are considered by these 'faculty of faculty' to be very good assignments. I received some quiet, but gratifyingly positive feedback. For a newbie prof, it really did good things for my self-confidence.

Of course, what goes up must come down, and in this case it was my pride. I began to feel quite ill this afternoon and had a class at 5:30. I was not fully prepared, and it showed. I wound up ending class at the halfway point because it just didn't make sense to continue when I was feeling so poorly. I'll make it up to them on Monday, though.

I definitely understand now why faculty disappear into the woodwork between semesters and over the summer. It's those times away that make it possible for us to keep up the 12 hour days for 15 weeks straight!

But hey, I'm still lovin' it. I really am.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

education truly is wasted on the rich

Emotions have been a roller coaster since last thursday. That would be when students in two of my courses (same course, two sections) turned in journals they have been keeping since the first week of class.

The first journal entry was a 'getting to know you' piece, where they were asked to share what they feel comfortable sharing about themselves personally. The remaining 6 journal entries corresponded to self-assessment exercises in the textbook, including issues of cultural competence.

My students are fucking amazing. They blow me away, they make me proud, they humble me, they...make me feel honored to be in a position to teach them. Their journals were incredible. They shared with me their past, their present, and their dreams for the future. Many of these students have, or had, challenges in their lives that far surpass any challenge in my own. I stand in awe of them, admire them for persevering and struggling to get an education despite their circumstances.

Whether it's the young moms: one whose child has Tay-Sachs disease, the other's child autism, yet another's severe asthma. Or the mom who missed an exam because of an infection from dental surgery, and then missed the makeup exam because her child was admitted to the hospital that morning. You could see the deep exhaustion etched around her mouth and eyes, yet she had brought in copies of documents to excuse her absences because, in her words, she loves school, wants to be here, and doesn't want her professors to think otherwise

Or the veteran who was exposed to agent orange and has cancer, had a rough spell and missed a due date for an assignment and wasn't prepared for the exam but took it anyway (and did quite well). Or the young man who is late for class every day because he and his brother are trying to take care of a father who recently lost his job and isn't doing well, and he can't leave his father alone so must wait till his brother gets home from work in the morning before he can leave for school.

Or the young man who trusted me enough to share something very personal, only to find -- or he will find -- that his trust was violated. He is a sweet, extremely intelligent (the kid could write circles around me) young man who has never acted in a questionable manner in class. And he never did anything to deserve, at such a young age, a mental health diagnosis that will keep him on meds for the rest of his life, leave him misunderstood and stereotyped, and make people afraid of him. He shared information that unfortunately falls under the 'red flag' of potential danger to himself or others, and I had to betray his trust and share his writing with the counseling center yesterday. I can only hope that one day he'll see why I did it and forgive me.

And yes, I know I did the right thing, and I did it in the right way. I went to the equivalent of my 'supervisor' first for guidance, then spoke with a counselor, and the counselor will take it from there. And I did it because I have a duty to protect all my students and other college personnel, as well as the student in question.

But doing the right thing isn't always easy or clear. And it doesn't always make you feel good about what you did.

I had three bowls of cocoa krispies for dinner last night, and it still didn't make me feel any better.

Monday, October 15, 2007

you gotta fast car...i wanna ticket to anywhere

did I ever mention
that every girlfriend I've ever had
has been lost to a guy
since I was oh, 16 or so
funny, isn't it

we'd meet when we're single
and doin' our party thing
have a good year or so
chumming around
and then she'd meet someone
and slowly
but ever so surely
i am relegated to those
she'd no longer have time for
i'd be the single friend
who didn't fit with the plan

i never found someone of my own
so i could never return the favour
of dumping them
before they dumped me

don't freak
this has nothing to do
with anything
going on in my life right now
i was just thinking
on the train
how the guys never wanted me
but they always took my girlfriends away

and yeah, i know
that's the way it's supposed to be
but hey
still waiting for my turn here

and I had a chocolate ice cream sundae for dinner tonight



(title lyrics tracy chapman; photo mine)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

but i had to buy 'em, i had to...really, i had to

Anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile knows that I loooove payless shoes. Or more specifically, BOGO at payless. I've got myself a nice little collection of quite lovely heels.

Thing is, I was buying all those heels when my job was a desk job. As in, sit behind a desk and rest those tootsies for eight hours straight. The only walking I did in them was between the office and the parking garage. Or across the street to pick up some lunch.

I hadn't anticipated what a difference it would make to be standing in front of classes for four or five hours a day. Not to mention half running down city blocks from one building to the next for back-to-back classes.

Damn, those heels are wicked bad on my feet! So I decided I had to do what was best for my feet. Flats. Flats that don't leave the ball of my feet nearly numb from pain. Not to mention the cracking. In my toes and the balls of the feet. Actual cracking, I kid you not.

This of course means....shopping! Yup, shopping for new shoes. And yes, it's payless BOGO!

So yesterday, the rugrat took the train into the city to meet me on campus and see my office after work and check out that senor swanky's restaurant.

Before dinner, we stopped by payless. And I found two pairs of flats (can't find a photo of one), a kitten heel, and a pair of one inch heels that shouldn't kill me.








I know, not as purty as my heels. But vastly more wearable. And I'm not giving up the heels, I'll hang onto them in the hopes of wearing them for special occasions. Hah. Yeah, like I have a whole lot of those these days.

And yeah, I did have to give up a few pair to make room for the new ones. But I picked really old sandals that I'm very unlikely to wear ever again. Hee hee.

Oh, and that senor swanky's...the one that calls itself a mexican cafe and celebrity hangout...it's on bleeker street and west broadway, a block south of washington square park. Whenever I see bleeker street, I think of the joni mitchell song...in a bleeker street cafe, I found someone to love today.



Anyway, the place was dead as a doornail at 8 pm on a friday night, and the food could only be called mediocre at best. There was a lot of it, but it wasn't anything to write home about. Disappointing, in fact. But then I'm sure that people go there for the bar, not the food.

(swanky's photo...the rest here)

Monday, October 08, 2007

put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Angst.

It describes everything...

and yet

nothing in particular.

The perfect word.






(photo)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

when the walls come tumbling down

...begin pathetic, self-centered, overindulgent, get-over-it-already whine

When the plagiarist (who is still at it occasionally, by the way) gets to meet this cool blogger before I do, it's clear that we're living in a truly fucked up world.

...end pathetic, self-centered, overindulgent, get-over-it-already whine

We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

flawless freak

So the doc visit last saturday had its good and bad. Six months of anticoagulant instead of three. New blood pressure med (first time on this) despite losing weight and dietary changes. But, six pounds down from three weeks before (and another down this week as well), blood sugar down to 102. I know, the new guidelines say keep it under 100, but considering its been as high as 170 a few years ago, and was 123 three weeks ago, I'll take the 102. Completely diet and exercise controlled, people -- no blood sugar meds at all.

Met with the department chair yesterday; he told me exactly what I need to do for a renewed contract for next year. Seems I'm already on my way, having attended two professional development workshops so far this semester, and applying this week for a faculty development workshop that will pay me $1000 to attend some training meetings this fall and make some changes in the assignments for my policy class next spring. He stressed finishing the diss, or I won't get the reassignment. Ouch.

We do have to do a lot of the same things at our CC that faculty in four-year colleges do, like conference presentations, research, publishing -- all while handling four or five courses per semester. Whoever tells you that CC profs only teach, or that somehow teaching at a CC is 'lower scale academically,' doesn't have a freakin' clue.

My schedule next semester will be exactly the same, with the same courses. I'm happy about that, as the prep won't be so tough next semester. I'm making changes in how I teach pretty much as we speak, trying to be the best I can be and motivate my students to want to really learn, rather than going through the motions for the grade. They've been pretty receptive so far. I'm still digging on the students in general despite the few that you find in every class.

Resident evil was a huge disappointment. Not what I expected at all. Two different story lines, and they didn't come together as well as they might have. Still though, Milla Jovovich in a long black 'herders' coat, whipping machetes out of her waistband and twirling them around her fingers is worth it. And I'm not even into women.

This movie, on the other hand, was not at all disappointing. I hadn't planned to go see it, wasn't the least bit interested, but I was with rugrat and her bf and they were seeing it, and I didn't have the heart to say I wasn't interested. Glad I went for it. I haven't heard the reviews for either movie, so this is my opinion based on my own viewing.

Speaking of movies, I'm showing Nell in my Social Skills Development course. We've covered things like cultural issues, language barriers, stereotypes, assumptions, self-determination, engaging the client, and intervention, and this film is full of examples of all of this. I have two sections of this class, and both seem to have enjoyed the film and understood the connection to our studies.

I'm picking up a rental car tomorrow am and driving north to meet some fellow bloggers. Sometimes it doesn't suck to be me, as deepblue would say.

The rest of the three day weekend will include prep for classes next week (typically done on friday, but hey), some minor MFD work to sooth my committee, and the annual state inspection for the car (downstate NY has some major requirements).

I wish I had time to write some the more introspective posts like I used to do, instead of what seems to be a laundry list of 'what I did last week.'

Flawless and Freak: both on George Micheal's Patience cd. Great for walking in the city.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

so today it finally sunk in

The fact that I clearly have chosen a career that will wipe out any chance of a personal life. I just realized. I spent 13 hours in the office today. Not counting commute time. Grading the first assignment in one class. And it was a fairly simple one. What about when it gets worse. And there are assignments due in two classes. More complicated assignments.

I left the house at 7 am and got back home at 11:15 pm. Now I'm sitting here watching what not to wear as I wait for the rugrat to get home. She's out having fun.

Tomorrow it's another blood draw to check the anticoagulant level. Then a visit with the doc so she can yell at me about my last blood work cause my blood sugar and cholesterol were up three weeks ago.

If I'm done on time I hope to do a little bit of shopping. Cause it seems I might actually be able to fit a little house party with some fellow bloggers into my schedule next weekend. OK fine, so maybe my personal life won't completely end. But there's no way I'm going to meet new people without something decent to wear.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to see a movie tomorrow as well. Resident evil. I mean it. I gotta see it.

Sunday? Clean the house. Laundry. And there's this little thing that I need to do something with. Even the smallest little thing so they'll I'm getting things done. That would be the MFD.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

apple. fiona apple.

There's a restaurant just south of washington square park called senor swanky's. It bills itself as a 'mexican cafe and celebrity hangout.' Wonder if it's really a celebrity hangout. Looks fun anyway. I bet dinner there on a friday night would be cool.

I walked again today. Big to-do at washington square park. All closed off, lots of cops, tickets required. Wondered till I saw tickets with Barack Obama written on them. Funny, if I'd known, I might could have gone. Timing was great. But it's too early for presidential speeches for me. I saw the ED of a nonprofit who used to work for the fed gov under clinton. But he looked right at me and didn't recognize me.

Walked right by teddy roosevelt's childhood home and almost missed it. It's on 20th or 21st, I think it was, between broadway and park ave.

Noticed a restaurant on park ave called wolfgang's steakhouse. I'm assuming wolfgang as in puck, right? I didn't look at the menu in the window for prices.

Hadn't heard more than her name, that fiona apple. But when I saw the cd at the library, I added it to my list and burned it to my computer and then to my zen. I actually listened to it today for the first time. Extraordinary machine. So I pretty much grooved on fiona while I walked today. I may have to get another one of her.

Still hanging in there. The students are basically cool. Except for the one who left class five minutes in and then came back 20 minutes later with a starbucks cup. Bucks is two blocks from campus.

And the three or four in the intro class who insist on pulling out their cells not nearly as surreptitiously as they think they are to check voice and text messages.

And the ones today in the policy course who didn't have their due assignment completed (assignments I'll spend all day tomorrow grading). 'We were supposed to attach our papers to the news articles?' said one. 'I'm fairly certain that's what your syllabus says,' I responded. Another student stuck up for me: 'Yes, that's what it says.' They all know they'll lose points for that.

It wasn't even a difficult assignment. Find two news articles each week for four weeks that discuss social welfare policy. In one page, summarize the article in your own words and then share your own opinion. It's a precursor to the next assignment. That's why I was so shocked when one student told me she just 'couldn't find any articles about policy.' In four weeks of class, she couldn't find any articles in any newspapers about social welfare policy? Like say, social security, or health care, or no child left behind, or welfare? Nothing? Yeah right.

My standard response in classes now to most questions is 'what does it say on your syllabus?' How can students not read the fucking syllabus anyway?

But mostly, the students are pretty cool.

My office mate and I agreed today that teaching is physically challenging. Or physically draining, to be more precise. Not to mention mentally draining.

I'm still walking, trying to get some exercise. Three days last week, two so far this week. I'll walk again tomorrow. It's lost its appeal already. Mostly because I'm having some problems with my hips and knees, more so on my right than my left. My research says the pain could be bleeding in the joints -- courtesy of the lovely anticoagulants.

And my feet. Those cheap shoes that I use for walking aren't cutting it. I'm going to have to fork out some $$ for real walking shoes. I didn't want to wear serious athletic shoes with my work trousers cause it looks so goofy. But I'm in such pain the last half hour of the walk that I'm gritting my teeth and giving it everything I've got to walk normally and not to just limp slowly along.

I have to force myself to walk, cause I know I'll be in pain the rest of the evening. They still hurt now, this late. But I have to get some exercise. On the positive side, I'm down a few pounds over the last week and a half.

If you've emailed me in the last two weeks and I haven't responded, please know how sorry I am. I promise I will soon. This weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ok fine, so I flew off the handle a little bit

Ok, I'll admit I was wrong and got all het up for nothing.

The bloody week from hell was not revisited. It was what I would call 'normal,' if anything is ever normal.

And my salary issue was a one-time adjustment because I started in the middle of a pay period. And apparently they cut a check for the first week of classes (instead of direct deposit like the rest of my paychecks), during which I was paid as an adjunct since my contract hadn't started yet. And since no one told me I was supposed to pick up that check separately, let alone that it was ready for pick up, it sat in the payroll office for two weeks. So now it looks as though financially I'll be slightly better off than before. As in, instead of getting $85 less per pay period than my previous job, I'll get about $85 more instead. I can live with that.

Whew!

Friday, September 21, 2007

jesusfuckingchristonapogostick, can i get a motherfucking break here??? Hunh???

I've about had it with the whole bleeding thing. It ain't what it's cracked up to be.

The bloody week from hell lasted for eight days, from August 24 to September 1. During those eight days, I lost more blood than I would have donated at a freakin' blood bank.

I know enough about blood loss from those two years of donating plasma to help pay for grad school to know that the body replenishes white blood cells in a few days. That's why you can donate plasma twice a week.

But the body takes almost two months to replenish red cells. That's why you can only donate whole blood roughly every eight weeks or so.

So, my body hasn't fully 'replaced' what I lost during the bloody week from hell, and sometime last night I began losing blood all over again. I'm supposed to be in fucking menopause, but instead I'm bleeding-to-deathexhaustion.

~~~~~

On the positive side, I've walked twice this week, from down near the WTC site up to grand central station. I'll do it today, too. This morning, my scale was down five pounds from two weeks ago. And that's after porking down a humongous burger and yummy spicy fries last night at a dinner get-together.

Gee, I wonder if it's weight loss, or blood loss. Hahahahhahaha! Yeah, ok, bad joke. Sorry.

~~~~~

The challenging students are finally beginning to stick out in class like a sore thumb. For example, the three girls in my intro course who challenged me on the group project and said it was too much work and they didn't have time in their busy schedules to meet with group members, and then when I was putting out the fires they started with the rest of the class, proceeded to pull out their cell phones and check voice/text mail (I gave them a 'look' and that was all it took, they slunk down in their seats and put the cells away), and all three 'forgot' their textbooks (the only three without books in the class) and couldn't do the small group discussion without borrowing my text.

I didn't lose my cool, though, and I didn't give in to them and change the assignment. I stuck with my guns, and I think I managed to do it without antagonizing them. 'Cause you see, those student evals are the most used tool by the college in terms of deciding to keep someone who isn't tenured yet. Nasty students can make you or break you. You have to find a way to keep them in line without pissing them off enough to give you a really bad eval.

~~~~~

So far so good with rugrat and the driving thing. Did I mention she passed her driver test with flying colours? Last Friday morning. She's driving to school and work, but that's all her limited junior license allows until January. She's being a careful driver, and I'm slowly getting used to it.

~~~~~

Rigoletto's on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx -- Little Italy. That was where my final goodbye to those at my last job took place. My boss went all out with this lunch, said I deserved it for all my work over the last five years. We started with bruschetta and chunks of parmesan cheese, and wine (for everyone else), then had antipasto platters. Then it was either penne a la vodka (which I love) or salmon in mustard sauce (which I love even more--and chose), and they sent around bowls of lightly steamed green beans in a light marinara sauce, which were actually pretty good (said the veggie-hater).

The final incredible course was dessert. The restaurant had italian cookies, but my boss had gone one extra. It looked like a cake, with congratulations 'spring' written on it. But when I slid the fork into it, I discovered that it was a napolean, I think four layers high. Layers and layers of flaky crust and custard. Incredible! It was so rich, that I wound up taking lots home and it took a few days to finish it off.

A farewell card and gift came next. The gift: $125. Cash. My boss knows me well. It's currently in my savings account, and I'm doing my best to keep it there.

~~~~~

I just checked my bank to be sure my first full check (the last one was just for one week) was deposited. My two week deposited take-home pay? 85$ less than my two-week take home at the old job. That's $170 less per month than I had coming in before.

What the fuck!? Tell me how I can possibly have an income increase of $3,000 annually, and yet my take home is less than before?

I am seriously fucked financially.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

and she knocks it out of the ballpark!

Now why the hell would I use a sports metaphor when I hate sports?

shrugs

I was walking down the hall in our department yesterday and ran into one of the profs who was on the interview committee when I was hired. She's very nice, and a senior faculty member (which means she has some clout). She said hello and then let me know that she'd heard good things about me from a student. And not just any student, one of her favorites. Which meant more than if it had been some random student she didn't know. He's in one of my classes (obviously). And apparently, he's decided I'm a very good teacher. She'll no doubt be letting some of the faculty in on that.

Way cool.

Friday, September 14, 2007

daaahling, you look maaaahvelous!

There haven't really been that many moments in my life when I've actually felt pretty. A lot of that stems back to childhood, I think.

I look much more like my biological father than my mother, and since they were divorced very early in my life, and fairly acrimoniously, she couldn't tolerate seeing him every time she looked at me.

I heard all kinds of minor snips about my looks growing up -- my hair was always 'a mess of tangles,' my eyes were wrong, my body type didn't make making clothes (which she did for the first 8 years or so) easy as she always had to alter the pattern for me -- just little things, but little things that my brain filtered as ugly. (My mother is also the queen of the backhanded insult -- you know, it sounds like a complement until you let it sink in and realize what was really said -- which didn't help much.)

I didn't even know why I was ugly until a trip to see extended family when I was 17, and every family member we encountered said 'oh my, she does favor ****, doesn't she,' as though that were something bad.

Unfortunately, I inherited the worst of his physical traits: the big nose, the huge bags under my eyes, the unruly hair. And I've sort of hated how I look most of my life -- even more so with the weight gain.

Last Sunday, I popped into Supercuts to fix a bad haircut from a month or so ago. I had tried a blunt cut at my shoulders, which meant all my long layers had to be cut up to the shortest layer, just above my shoulders. It seemed a good cut at first, but mere days later I couldn't do a thing with it.

At Supercuts, I wound up with the stylist who had done an excellent job on rugrat's hair a week or so earlier, so that was good luck. She said that with my hair, if I wanted blunt cut, it would have to be very short and sleek; otherwise, I need layers.

I was worried about cutting layers in hair that was already much shorter than I prefer, but I trusted her. And she came through. She knew exactly what to do, and as she was finishing the cut, women waiting their turn began to comment on how great the cut was (it was a busy day, the waiting room was full, and her station was right in the front).

So when she was finished with the cut and while she had the audience, she grabbed her blow dryer and a brush and proceeded to give me an absolutely free blow dry and style. And she really made it work.

Typically after a hair cut, when I'm turned toward the mirror to look, I cringe. It just never seems to be quite right, especially under those bright lights. But when she turned me around, and amid the chorus of oohs from the 'ladies in waiting,' I was awestruck. It was one of those moments. One of those 'I feel pretty' moments. Because it really did look fantastic. They knew it, I knew it, and the stylist knew it -- that's why I got the free dry and style. It was her chance to shine in front of the customers, and she went for it...and made me shine in the process.

And I'm eternally grateful that she did. I've felt a bit pretty all week. Sort of a lingering feeling that I'm finding I enjoy. I find I'm spending a little more time doing my hair and makeup in the morning because I kind of like how I look...a little more than I usually do anyway.

Did I mention the stylist received a $10 tip for a $14 cut?

I'd have given her more if I'd had it, just for making me feel good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

and we couldn't say it on tv if it wasn't true

Wow, it's been awhile. I've tried to read some of you and comment, but the days just keep swishing by so quickly. Let's see if I can condense a week and a half into one post.

++++++++++

one bottle of 60+ spf
waterproof, sweatproof
intended for baby's skin
applied hourly
sunscreen
+
four hours in the sun
at orchard beach
on labor day
=
pink skin
a significant increase in freckles
and a peeling nose

++++++++++

Easier week last week. There were only three days of classes, so I managed to stay ahead of the game. The students, for the most part, are really great. There is only one student that is driving me nuts, and she deserves a post all her own. Coming soon to a blog near you. Cause I'll have to blog about her in some safe way if I want to stay sane.

++++++++++

First department faculty meeting wednesday. The dept. chair introduced all the new faculty. First, he got all my info from my CV incorrect. I didn't correct him, as that seemed like a bad thing to do publicly. And every other person he introduced had finished their dissertation or published something since being hired. Except me. My office mate successfully defended her diss on thursday -- accepted as is, no revisions.

I am still the great pretender. I aspire to intellect, insight, academia. But I am not there. I only pretend. And live in fear that they will find out what a fraud I am.

++++++++++

After the meeting, I was asked by a fellow faculty to help co-advise the human services student club. She is expecting a baby and will be out next semester, so I will take over advisement while she's on maternity leave. We'll co-advise again when she returns. It's a positive in terms of service to the college, and I'll get to know the students better as well.

++++++++++

I walked from work to grand central last thursday. It was perhaps a bit warm for the walk (it took 1.5 hours), but there was a good, cool wind whipping through the side streets. Every time I came to a corner, that breeze was there to cool my body. It was rough. I'm totally out of shape and have very little stamina, thanks to the anticoagulant. My feet hurt. My joints -- hips, knees, and feet -- felt it. But I made it. And that weekend, I was down three pounds from the weekend before.

I absolutely love walking through manhattan. Everyone was out, kicked back in places like herald square, with a cool drink in hand. I want to be one of those, who can hang in the square and then be home in a short subway ride. Instead of a 45 minute train ride. I will be one day.

++++++++++

First paychecks always mean dinner out to celebrate. Even if the check was direct deposited, rather than put into my hot little hand. Friday was a first paycheck day.

For us, a celebration means Casa Maya on Central Park Avenue in weschester. I know it's a chain restaurant, but I know mexican food, and they do it the best.

Carne asada. A thinly sliced, grilled skirt steak. They do it better than anyone else. And it's served with a cheese enchilada, with mole sauce. And they know mole sauce like nobody's business. Slightly sweet, mingling with the slightly salty cheese. And the carne, served with a little bit of pico de gallo and guacamole.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to skip the sour cream. If the food is good, all sour cream does is mask the tastes of good cooking. Instead, use the tiniest bit of pico de gallo, and add a speck of the guacamole so that you have the mix of carne, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and avocado in each bite. Ambrosia, pure and simple. And halfway through the meal, the mole begins to mingle with the guac and pico, and damn. It's almost better than sex. Really.

And if you've never tried fried ice cream....well, you've really had a deprived life then, haven't you?!

++++++++++

Sunday, at the movies. Death Sentence. The movie, not what I want to do to the couple who kept up a scene-by-scene commentary. After shushing them a couple of times only to get 'why are you shushing us, there's only two people here" in response, we were halfway through the movie and I'd missed some key conversations due to their white trash behavior. I was so mad, I actually publicly confronted them. Now if you know me, the last thing I want to do in public is draw attention to myself. And I hate confrontations. They leave me physically shaken. So it must have been pretty bad for the following to occur:

Would you two stop talking so the rest of us can enjoy the damned movie?

Said loudly enough to be heard throughout the theatre.

There are only two people here, why are you complaining? Move to the back of the theatre if it bothers you.

Well, there were seven people in the theatre, not that the number of people matters anyway, and I can't see the screen clearly from the back, and why the fuck should I move cause they won't shut the fuck up.

It doesn't matter where the hell I sit, it's a damned theatre. You don't talk in the theatre. If you want to talk, go outside.

Well, we were here first
, said the woman, folding her arms across her ample chest with a huff, sitting back and ending the conversation, as though being here first meant they could do whatever the fuck they want.

They were quiet for three entire minutes before starting up again. I walked out of the theatre and right to the manager. Told her about the couple, and asked for a pass to come back and see the movie another time. I just couldn't sit there and try to watch it at that point. She sent an employee in to keep an eye on things and gave me my pass with profuse apologies.

I went back into the theatre to get my handbag and sweater, and noticed how quiet the couple were being while the employee was sitting there. Fuckers.

++++++++++

Only two days of classes this week, due to the jewish holiday. I brought all my texts home to use the time to get ahead in reading and lecture notes.

I walked again yesterday, going to grand central. It hurt a bit less than before, partly because I put these awesome dr. scholls high impact sports inserts in my walking shoes. The busyness and bustle keeps me going, although it's really hard not to stop and do things, like enjoy the concert in union square, or avoid going into the strand bookstore. But when I see the grand central building ahead, I really feel as though I've accomplished something.

It was sprinkling lightly throughout most of the walk, but I actually didn't care. I put my umbrella away, pulled my hair back, and walked in the mist and sprinkles, not caring how disheveled I looked.

++++++++++


You'll notice there's no comment about the MFD. That would be because I haven't figured out how to teach four courses and still have time for the diss. More on that later.

++++++++++

Remember the bloody week from hell? Well, I started 'spotting,' as we call it, yesterday. It's only been two weeks since the near deluge, and I'm spotting. I am terrified of what two weeks from now will bring.

Will you miss me if I bleed to death? Or will it be out of sight, out of mind?

++++++++++

A final note to you new yorkers. To those of you who were out walking with me, near me, bypassing me.

Don't trip/step on
my brand new
genuine leather
so expensive I had to charge it
but absofuckinglutely adore it
cause I can transport textbooks
lunch, dinner, dress shoes, sweater, umbrella
between office and home
without putting my freakin' back out
with a shoulder bag
briefcase on wheels.

See, when you're coming up behind me, I can't see you. It's your job to watch where the fuck you're going. So watch where you walk, and don't go stepping on the briefcase-that-I-adore, or I may just have to kick yer ass.

I can, you know.
Really.

And I will.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

the week from bloody hell...or, the bloody week from hell.

Imagine that you had four classes to teach, and each one met twice per week. Imagine that you had to cold prep for 8 class sessions during four days each week, for three sections of four courses that you have never taught. Imagine being a mere 10 to 15 minutes ahead of the students in terms of your prep for class that day. Imagine that the classes are taught in two different buildings three blocks away and you have back-to-back classes twice a week. Imagine that one of these courses is taught in an add-on unit literally right next to a major highway that is so noisy you can't hear your students speak or yourself think. Imagine that you took class prep work home for the weekend, because your Friday will be spent at your old job.

And imagine that this wasn't the end of that mess, but merely the beginning. And yes, this will be graphic. Imagine using a super absorbent tampon, and two super maxi pads, to stop the flow before class. And imagine that during a simple 1 hour, 15 minute class, you could feel that protection overflowing -- while you're trying to teach, and hoping it doesn't overflow to the point of no return in front of your students. And yes, it was close more than once. And imagine that when you ran to the bathroom right after class, removing that tampon signaled an opening of the flood gates from hell, and you felt your blood gushing nearly forcibly from your body. It was almost as though the tampon was a not-too-functional cork stopper. And imagine that the blood loss became so severe that you taught classes with a headache, dizziness, dehydration, and difficulty focusing -- a condition that lasted for most of those four days.

Imagine getting off the train at night and walking home, two of the blocks up steep hills. Imagine your feet, dead weight, barely swishing through the air above the pavement when you raise them ever so slightly to put one foot in front of the other as you drag yourself home at night.

Imagine coming in to your old job on Friday, after a week of massive blood loss and crazed class prep and 13.5 hour days. Imagine that what should have been done in your absence wasn't done, and you have to add that to your day. Imagine taking work home from this job for the weekend.

The blood gates of hell finally closed for good yesterday, after eight days. I have no doubt that it stopped only because I ran out of anticoagulant on Tuesday and couldn't get more until yesterday (a huge mixup, don't ask). I now live in fear of next month. Or more accurately, 28 days later (pun not intended -- or not much anyway). I don't know if I can go through that again. There were a couple of points at which I really thought I should have gone to an emergency room, but I couldn't. Not with a new job. I am not in a position as a newby prof to just cancel classes in the first week so that I can go to the hospital. I haven't even told them I'm on the meds.

The good thing about running out of the med was discovering that the clot was still there. You see, the vein in the lower inside part of my arm began to swell as soon as the meds were stopped. So we know it's still there, and that it hasn't moved at all. At least we know that it hasn't migrated to some much more dangerous spot in my body. I'm on the meds for two more months, and if it's still there, I will be referred to a blood specialist.

Yesterday was grocery shopping and running errands. Today is cleaning the house, doing laundry, and trying to get those two classes prepped for Tuesday. And do the work for the other job. Tomorrow, rugrat, her bf and I are going to the beach. But if I have my way, it will only be for a couple of hours, not the whole freakin' day. Thank goodness this is a three day weekend, or I'd be totally exhausted and not have any time to rest.

Despite the fact that I leave the house at 7 am and don't get home till 8:30 pm, I have to go pick up rugrat at work at 10 pm every night this upcoming week. The bus doesn't run that late, and she can't take the car till she passes her driving test on the 14th. I will be so glad when that happens, even if I will worry about her.

And yes, I know I said I wouldn't blog anymore, and that if I needed to blog, I'd find another spot to do it. But I don't have the damned time to set up another place. I don't even have the time to blog regularly. I'll be lucky to write briefly on the weekend. I keep saying I'm so overwhelmed and I don't know if I can continue to handle it all, but I don't see an end in sight.

The best part of the whole week? I fucking love the students. They are particularly awesome. The vast majority anyway. They were the only thing keeping me going this week. Whoo hoo for students.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

the last day

She had been taking things home from the office for a few weeks now. A little something personal each day, so that it wouldn't be noticed. She wasn't ready to face that she'd be leaving soon, so there was no major packing of boxes or moving things out all at once.

Monday, she'd taken the last of the photos, and her degree certificates, leaving clean marks in the dust on top of the cabinets and taking away little wisps attached to the bottom of picture frames.

She would be coming back to the office for three more Fridays, but today was really the last day of work, in her mind and in the minds of her boss and colleagues. So today was the day she would remove the few remaining personal objects, like her cocoa mug and reading glasses, and the poncho made of alpaca that she'd picked up at the market in Otavalo, Ecuador back in 2000 -- it lay across the back of her chair for five years, at hand when she needed warmth to counter the cold breeze of the air conditioning vent over her desk.

Toward the end of the day, she began to remove her personal things from the computer. Deleting cookies, internet history, bookmarks, and music. Removing every trace of her existance. Wiping down her desk and cleaning it one last time.

Driving north on the Bronx River Parkway toward White Plains, she began to really feel it. To understand what it meant. She'd spent five years of her life in that office, that chair, that desk, sitting at that computer. Five years. Five years of work and play and laughter and grumbling.

She felt tears burn behind her eyes, threatening to spill forth. This was the kind of thing that called for a few therapeutic hours at her favorite place -- Barnes and Noble.

Two hours of book loving later, she had moved from erotic stories, to novels, classics. She left the store with Sir Thomas More's Utopia, Willa Cathers' My Antonia, and WEB DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk. And her guilty pleasure: a copy of the latest People magazine issue.

When she had left the office earlier, she stood, pushed her chair under the desk, picked up her bag of personal items, and looked back. Nothing remained of her in that cubicle. It was as if she had never existed there. Five years erased.

And then her eye caught the business card laying on top of the CPU. Her business card. She reached for it, intending to throw it away, but then pulled her hand back. Let it stay there, she thought. It's the ony thing left of her here. Let it stay.

This the moment on sitcoms that cues turning off the light and closing the door on the past. Can't really do that in a cubicle. But it felt the same.

This was the end of five years of her life.
Now she would go on to something new.

It will be the end of her blog as well.
If she finds she just can't stop writing, she'll start something new somewhere else.
Just like her job.

expelled

The pain was as close to unbearable as she'd ever experienced. Similar to contractions during delivery, coming in waves, building to a crescendo, then easing. It had been going on for four hours or so, despite multiple doses of ibuprofen.

She feel the need to pee, so she headed for the bathroom, nearly doubled over in pain. As she urinated, the pain reached its zenith, and she felt, in that moment, blood gush forth along with three or four distinctive lumps...clumps of blood and tissue from her uterus...pushed from her body. Nearly instantaneously, the pain stopped. Abruptly. Completely. A sense of calm engulfed her body, no doubt helped along by the earlier multiple ibuprofen doses.

That was the difference, she supposed, between a normal period and one on anticoagulants. Normally, that blood would slowly seep from her body over two or three days. But without the clotting factor that would slow the process down, everything that coated the lining of her uterus was expelled pretty much in one fell swoop, the contractions pushing it forcibly from her.

All that mattered now was that the pain was gone. For good, it seemed. The pain had exhausted her. She needed a nap.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

book 'em dano!

So the rugrat had to go to court today.

Now you have to understand her bf's living arrangements for this to make sense. He lives in a two bedroom apartment with his mom, a younger brother, and an older brother. This summer, an even older brother dumped his two toddler nephews on them for the entire summer as well. Needless to say, there is constant chaos in that place, and if rugrat and bf want to have a private conversation, they take it outside.

There is a small park right next to the apartment complex that is a part of the adjacent grade school (where all the little ones in the complex attend school). So that's where they go to talk. To the park. They sit at a picnic table and talk. And while I'm sure there's some lip action going on as well, I prefer not to think about that.

So anyway, about six weeks ago, she and her boyfriend were talking one night in that park. It was about ten pm on a sunday evening, and she had just called me to come pick her up because bf was called in to work a shift for someone who couldn't make it.

Just after calling me, the cops who had been parked and watching them while chatting with two other cops approached them and wrote them each a complaint/summons to appear in court. Why? Well, it seems that Yonkers has a city ordinance that says no one can be on unlit school grounds after dark. And the park was on school grounds.

So they basically got a ticket for sitting in the park and talking. They weren't doing anything but just sitting there.

So they went to court today, and the judge threw her case out completely. Whew. But he went after bf, said rugrat, because 'he's the guy.' That was supposedly the judge's reasoning. I have to wonder though if it was that, or because of the color of his skin... Anyway, he was fined $25 bucks, and rugrat split the cost with him to be fair.

What have we become when a girl can't sit and talk with her bf in a school park after dark? It was only 10 pm, and they are 17 and 20, so that isn't late. And remember, in the winter it's dark at 6 pm. What do they do then?

Oh, and rugrat checked during the day, and that ordinance isn't posted. She couldn't find a notice anywhere. You're apparently just supposed to know it. Even though she doesn't live in that town. Sheesh.