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.