Monday, April 30, 2007

in which there will be a huge fucking delay in finishing the MFD

Been working on the MFD, am making even more changes to suit the committee members.

Having some problems with the independent variables and how to operationalize them. Emailed members about it, haven't heard back.

Should have a new draft (#6, btw) in a day or two if I hear back from them soon.

But bad news anyway. My proposal has to be submitted to the uni's IRB (internal review board), and the research portion (data collection and analysis) must be approved by them before I do the work.

It's standard at most uni's, to be sure that I'm not taking advantage of vulnerable populations. With me, it's more of a formality as I'm doing a secondary data analysis, not collecting the data myself. But it's still a required step.

I can't submit a request to the IRB until the proposal has been successfully defended.

Problem is, the IRB is closed during the summer. All requests must be submitted by May 14, or it will have to wait until after September 1.

There is no way, since the committee still has me making changes, that I will be able to successfully defend the proposal before May 14.

Which means that after I defend the proposal, probably in late May, I'll get to twiddle my thumbs until September, when I can submit the proposal to the IRB for approval.

Only then can I begin work on the second part of the MFD.

Who the fuck knew that the IRB would shut down for 3 1/2 months, anyway?

I have entered the Twilight Zone of MFDs. And I shall never find my way back out again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I'm having one of those days

The kind where you just don't want to face life at all. The kind where you just want to give up, throw in the towel, and go slide into bed, knowing that someone else has taken care of everything.

Don't bother reading any further. It's boring bullshit, just bullshit that I have to deal with. I'm not asking for advice or anything, I know what I need to do. It's just that I'm at work and I have no one to vent my frustrations to, so it's going in the blog. I thought maybe writing it down would ease my anxiety a bit. That's all.

I still have to come up with a way of addressing the comments and feedback of the MFD committee. I mean, the second committee person literally asked why I hadn't used a particular outline for the lit review. I actually had used that outline, and she is the one who told me to put it aside and think about a new outline.

And she asked why I had this section of history of the policy in my lit review, when it should be for outcomes. But the last draft (all the drafts) had a section of history. And she's the one who told me that I had to expand on that history because I'd glossed over some key points, and I hadn't presented both sides of the issue. That section is one that I spent a great deal of time working on in the rewrite.

And the bad news is she copied the chair on her email to me, and the chair agreed with her because she doesn't know what the second and I discussed previously. So now, do I send my response to the second's comments and copy the chair, or will that embarrass the second? Should I just send it to the second? But then the chair will still be out of the loop.

And did I mention this little twist? Both committee persons were references in my recent job search -- for the job I got. So I have to try to keep that aspect separate from the MFD thing. And I have to assume that they will do the same.

~~~

And now the issue with rugrat and her teacher is back. The teacher was given my letter of concern and sent her own rebuttal to the same counselor. That's to be expected. But the letter only addresses a couple of specific points in my concerns, specifically those that pertain to the fashion industry (this is a fashion design course).

The teacher didn't address my concern about why she has never contacted me about rugrat. She doesn't address the issue of chaos in the classroom. She has decided that rugrat just isn't interested 'career-wise' in fashion design and needs to be more motivated -- the kid who has wanted nothing more than FIT since grade school? Needs to be more motivate? That's her reasoning for not giving full help and support to rugrat?

My letter allowed for the fact that I know rugrat can be challenging and that I knew it wasn't all the teacher. In her letter, she does not take responsibility for one iota of the problem -- she places it all squarely on rugrat.

But the thing is, rugrat isn't having problems with any other teacher, and she never really has had any problems with teachers. So it isn't all rugrat.

And the most ironic thing is her response letter. She says that I clearly didn't want to speak with her directly and deal with this, because I addressed my letter to the counselor. (I did that because he's the only one from that school who has spoken with me.) But when she started having 'problems' with rugrat, she went to the same counselor -- not to me. So if I use her reasoning, then clearly she had no intention of contacting me directly. Hell, if the counselor hadn't given her a copy of my letter, I never would have heard from her.

And the worst part is that the only bad behavior issues that she can come up with is rugrat eating in class and using her mp3 player -- both issues that I could have nipped in the bud in the first few weeks, if she'd only called me. Now what we have is major avoidance issues on both sides, and passive aggressive behavior on both sides.

The counselor has strongly recommended that the teacher call me, and she finally did yesterday. I was in a meeting, but she left times that she was available. Then she emailed me with those times, and sent a copy of the letter she'd sent to the counselor in response to my letter (which the counselor hadn't bothered sending my way). I just called her back, during the time she said she'd be available, and no answer. Now I get to wait around for her call again.

I'm tempted to just send her a letter in response to her response. But then I'd just be avoiding the same way she is.

~~~

Did I mention that I hate confrontations? With a passion? I'd do just about anything to avoid direct confrontation when I know it's a serious issue.

I really do just want to go back to bed.

Monday, April 23, 2007

mfd - BANG...mfd - BANG...mfd - BANG...mfd - BANG...

Got back the comments on my final draft from the second chairperson.

This would be the one who wanted the major re-write in the first place.

She asked questions about why I put specific things in the lit review.

Well, that would be because

YOU

FUCKING

TOLD

ME

TO.

So now I have to come up with a respectful response that says exactly that.

mfd

BANG

mfd

BANG

mfd

BANG

That sound

is my head

banging

against

the fucking

wall.



(photo)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

i'd love to take a few photography courses

I took my camera with me yesterday as rugrat and I walked the aqueduct trail again. The photos are here, and I hope no one minds that I think that some of them are pretty decent.

Here's one:



It's inside an old abandoned stone house, looking up at the trees growing over the roofless top. Click on the photo for more detail.

Friday, April 20, 2007

and I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills

The sun came out today, and my god, what a wonderful sight to see against the backdrop of blue, blue sky!

Just five days ago, our county was in a state of emergency from the flooding, and all week it was grey skies and drizzles.

But oh, that sun!

I finished a major report today for our accreditation entity. Another one of my responsibilities, and if not done, it could cause us to lose our undergrad accreditation. But hey, no pressure, right? Anyway, I locked the report against further changes, turned off my computer, and left work a whole 15 minutes early. Which is a big deal considering I'm usually there an hour late. I'm not a workaholic, but I am conscientious.

On the way home I put on Santana Shaman, and just enjoyed the ride home in the sunshine, wind blowing my hair through the open window. The thought came to me so suddenly...I want to go for a walk when I get home, I thought. Outside, in the sunshine and soft breeze.

I've been neglecting my workouts, and the thought of getting onto the elliptical, even if I could run while watching Ghost Whisperer, was not enticing in the least. I wanted to be outside, which is not usually like me, given my skin's penchant for serious sunburns. But I wanted to be outside in the sun today.

So I managed to get home at 5:20, instead of the usual 6:30 or 7:00, and I quickly changed into some sweats and sneakers, pulled my hair back into a ponytail, and headed out the door to the aqueduct.

The aqueduct is a pathway that runs north/south through western Westchester County, along the pathway of the aqueduct that used to (I don't know if it still does) supply fresh water to NYC. In my area, it's a dirt pathway, further north it is sometimes gravel, sometimes paved as well. The path is used by walkers, cyclists, and dog owners. It's generally safe -- at least during the daytime -- and people are friendly without being too friendly. And we're lucky to live right around the corner from it.

I walked south on the pathway, because that's the most pleasant walk. You have a view of the Hudson River on your right, some quite pretty homes (but not mcmansions), and at one point, the path runs through a small nature preserve.

I set out at a very brisk pace, watching the sun begin to set over the river, nodding my 'hellos' to the other path users' greetings. Listening to the birds, there appeared to be a few distinctly different songs coming from them. It's actually quite beautiful music when you're not trying to sleep at 4:00 am.

I noticed that the further south I walked, the wetter the dirt was in spots. It was the remainders from our storm. There were a few spots where I had to take a half-dozen steps in some serious muck to continue on the trail, but I wasn't stopping for a little muck.

Then I saw the huge tree that had come down over the path during the storm, completely blocking the way. Someone had come along with a chainsaw and removed enough branches that at one side of the pathway, a traveler could walk under an archway created by the trunk of the tree sans branches.

And then there was the waterfall, coming down the high hill on the left, under the trail, and down the hill on the right toward the river. Only, the waterfall wasn't really supposed to be there -- it was a remnant of the storm and will no doubt disappear in a day or two.

And always, the river and the sun on my right...until I turned around to head back home. All told, I spent an hour and a half walking the aqueduct. And every second of it was a pleasure.

Unlike a workout on equipment indoors, which usually just leaves me completely exhausted, this walk had me invigorated, from start to finish. I'll admit that toward the end my knees and hips begin to feel the impact; even a walk on hard dirt puts more pressure on the joints than a run on an elliptical. But an aleve took care of that when I returned home.

I came back so refreshed that rugrat noticed when I arrived home, and she's decided she wants to come along. And although it sounds goofy to think about this when it's a walk for physical exercise, if it's nice out tomorrow I'm taking the camera with me. I want to capture some of the beauty of the walk and share it with you all.

God, I feel incredibly upbeat tonight!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

risk

It's finally sinking in, what a risk this new job thing is. I've received the letter of appointment, and a packet from human resources at the new college, and it all has me thinking.

As I read the appointment letter, a lot of things sort of leapt off the page. Pretty standard in terms of a teaching contract, but new to me.

You see, I'm leaving nearly five years of relative job stability, with a nice schedule that I have control over. There's no one else here who does my job, and if there weren't someone doing it, the uni would get fined tens of thousands of dollars by the state and the feds. And it would be too overwhelming for my boss to hire and train someone else, so if I hadn't left, I'd have had relative job security for the foreseeable future and beyond.

But instead, I'm going into a job that contracts with me annually, until I get tenure. And that is 7 long years away. So my job each year will depend upon whether I get along with everyone in the department, get good student evals without being a pushover (a very fine line), and ultimately the uni's budget. Because unlike my current job, there are any number of adjuncts out there who would like to teach a course or two, and if the uni has a budget problem, it's the non-tenured who will be replaced with those less expensive adjuncts.

Yes, if I get tenure, I'll have some job security, which is one reason for accepting this offer. But, I have seven nail-biting years before I get there. And, what if they don't give me tenure after I put in those seven years? I'll be 54 then, and no uni will hire me if I have a big 'not offered tenure' sign on my back.

I also have little control over my schedule now, and it will change twice a year. It depends upon what classes I'll be assigned to teach, what meetings I have to attend, when students can meet, when deadlines arise for publications...and that's just in the uni. I'm also expected to be an active member in professional organizations, meeting and presenting.

I also have to change medical insurance, and all of the plans are more than I pay right now. We'll have to change doctors again, after five years of having some good ones. And the new uni does not have a dental plan apparently.

And I have to join the union and pay dues. If I choose not to join, I still have to pay a fee comparable to dues. I have no idea where that money goes. But if I have to pay anyway, I'm going to opt for the union -- I'm not paying for nothing, I want something for my money.

I have to use public transport, and that's pricier than the gas for my car, even at the $3.04/gallon I paid on my last fill-up. The train is 180/month, and the subway is 76/month. That's 256/month just in commute bucks.

When you consider that the 3500 annual increase over my current salary is under 300/month, you can see that all my extra income will go to transportation. Plus more to medical insurance, and those union dues. It looks like I wind up losing money in this deal.

So yes, this is me, complaining about getting exactly what I wanted and worked for, isn't it, lol. And yes, now I need to remind myself that I took this job because I really like teaching. I really like teaching. I'll be doing what I want to do, and that's a good thing. And clearly it's never been about money for me, or my major would've been law or business. I guess I just needed to put my fears on paper. Now that I've said them, maybe they won't bother me anymore.



I found this photo here, and had to add it to this post; this is exactly how I feel right now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

nothing

I've been sitting here this evening thinking about the one thing that I try to avoid thinking about at all costs. My mind touches on it occasionally, more often as I grow older, but I do my best to move away from it immediately, before the thought moves deeper.

But this time, tonight, right this moment, I can't seem to move my mind past it, over it, around it, through it.

Death.

Perhaps it's that I'm more agnostic, bordering on atheistic, that makes death so difficult to contemplate. To me, it's the end. The end of existence of any kind, way, shape, form.

To cease to be.

I sit here in front of the telly, and my mind keeps freezing on the thought of simply ceasing to exist.

My heart beats fast.

My body goes weak.

My head swirls.

And everything inside me seems to drop to my feet.

And out of me.

And utter terror fills me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

kissing daddy

It was a Sunday morning. Church day. Things were always scary on church day. She never knew when mommy would get mad at them all.

Mommy had to get all three kids, and daddy, ready for church. Everyone had to have breakfast, but that was usually cereal. Everyone had to have their Sunday clothes on. And little brother had to have his diaper changed.

Daddy usually sat around reading the paper and drinking coffee, and got dressed at the last minute.

This morning, the sun was shining through the windows, and there were sunbeams in the air. She could look through them, and see the dust swirling in the light. She waved her hand, and watched the dust swirls break apart. She moved to sit in the sun and get warm. She was always cold, always trying to get warm.

She walked into the bathroom, where daddy was getting ready. He was shaving his cheeks smooth. She liked kissing him when his cheeks didn’t hurt her. Even if they weren’t a family that kissed and hugged, sometimes she sneaked daddy-kisses anyway, even though mommy was sure to yell at her if she saw her do it.

Daddy finished shaving, and put something on his cheeks. The scent reached her nostrils, and caught her attention. Her eyes got wide. Oooh, it smelled good. It made daddy smell good. Really good. Yummy.

Then she really kissed daddy on the cheek. Right there, in the bathroom. And all morning, wherever he was. She kept coming up to him, shyly, slowly, at first. She would put her arms around his neck, burrow her nose into his cheek, and kiss. And then just lie there, breathing. And he let her stay on his lap, just breathing. He never did that.

But after a while, daddy got annoyed with her. Why are you so kissy today, he asked. Because you smell good, she said. He laughed.

She stayed close to him for the rest of the morning, as mommy kept getting her brothers ready for church. Then mommy called her to get her dressed. She suffered the attention, and as soon as mommy was done, she went off to find daddy again.

Daddy was dressed in his Sunday suit now. He still smelled good, and now he looked good. She went up to him on the sofa and leaned over the arm to kiss him again.

And that’s when disaster struck.

Because daddy had put his coffee cup down on the arm of the sofa. And she knocked it over, right into his lap.

He jumped up, shouting at her, upset with her. She just stood there, eyes downcast, wanting to cry, but not doing it. Then mommy found out what happened, and she yelled even louder than daddy.

There was talk between mommy and daddy about what he could wear, but he only had the one suit, and the rest of his clothes were for work and had paint on them from painting his signs.

There was nothing to be done, daddy couldn’t wear painted up clothes to church, so he had to stay home. Funny thing, he didn’t look too awfully upset about staying home.

But mommy was fiercely angry. She was stuck taking all three kids to church all by herself. And everything she did for the rest of the day made mommy angry. Every time mommy looked at her, she could see it in her eyes. And mommy picked at everything she did all day long.

She retreated into herself, and tried not to notice mommy. She made herself small, and stayed out of the line of fire. Or tried to. But mommy had a way of saying things when she was angry. Things that hurt. Things that were loud enough for other grownups to hear. Things that embarrassed her, and made the grownups stare. And mommy had to explain why daddy wasn’t in church. It was all her fault, and mommy made sure everyone knew.

But she kept wondering why everyone was mad at her. After all, it was daddy who put his coffee cup on the sofa. Mommy would never let her put her kool-aid cup on the sofa.

All she wanted to do was kiss daddy. What was so wrong with that?

She doesn’t remember ever kissing daddy again. She must have, right? But she doesn’t remember it…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

the motherfucking dissertation

The MFD -- well, the first half of it, the proposal, all 50 pages -- is done. I just emailed it to my committee.

Hopefully, any changes they want made will be minor, and not a major re-write like I just did.

If all goes well, I should be able to defend it late this month, or early next month.

Then I can do it all again for the second half (the data analyis, reporting the findings, and discussing the implications).

Anyway, for the next week or so, I actually have nothing to do, while they read it.

I was thinking about reading something for fun; but it needs to be lighthearted and easy, nothing deep or intellectual. More like brain candy, in the way that the telly is eye candy.

And other than that, lots of sleep.

It feels sort of...anticlimactic.

I can't even have that last corona to celebrate, not at this time of night.

Sleep, sleep, sleep...

on risk taking

I received the contract in the mail for the new job, followed a day later by a packet from human resources.

Reading it all has really made this hit home, shown me just how risky what I'm doing is.

I have a pretty solid job where I am, after nearly five years here. And the work I do, while I do it relatively unnoticed, is vital to the university. In fact, they'd get fined tens of thousands of dollars by the state and the feds if I didn't complete the appropriate reports and turn them in on time.

I'm the only one at the uni who knows how to do these reports. And while there are those outside the uni who know how to do it, I am relatively job secure these days. Yes, I know that most employment is 'at will' and I could be gone in a moment, but it's not bloody likely.

But now, I'm embarking on a new position at a uni where my contract has to be renewed every year until I have tenure -- which is seven years away.

I have no job security, and even something like student evaluations of my teaching could be enough to keep me from hired back the following year. And while I'd have some notice and would get to finish the contract year, what uni will hire me if I don't work out at this one?

I'd wind up having to go into a new line of work, and back to teaching as an adjunct, if I can get a gig.

It's a particularly scary, risky proposition, what I'm doing. Especially at my age.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

someone save me from myself!

I bought another pair of shoes today. Red sandals, with a 2 1/2 inch heel. They are so damned cute. I couldn't resist. Their website isn't up right now, so I can't show you a pic. Better yet, when I get home, I'll take a pic of them all and really shock you.

I don't know what's wrong with me, but lately it's been a pair (or two, or three) of shoes here, and a handbag there.

Is it an addiction, or stress?

Watch for pics this evening...

OK, this is the new shoe:



Photos of the whole collection may come later this evening...

Monday, April 02, 2007

so maybe you can't call me dr. spring yet

But you can fucking well call me professor spring!

I got the job.

And at an increase in salary over what I currently earn.

What's not to like about that?!?!