Friday, December 26, 2008

I want to be the one to walk in the sun

There's a blogger on another site who writes a 'thankful friday' post just about every week (yes, I'm talking about you, kat, just in case you should happen to drop in). In the post, she tries to find something to be thankful for about the preceding week. I've had a fairly rough week, but I thought perhaps if I get the not so cool things off my chest, then I could end with what was good about the week.

So, here goes:

I finished the semester last friday, leaving home at 8 am and arriving back home at 1 am. I went to bed for about 12 hours, then woke up with a cold/flu virus and spent christmas on major otc meds to fight sinuses so clogged my teeth ached, eyes matted shut, a cough that made my chest ache, and those muscle aches one gets in the back with those kinds of viruses. I'm only now feeling human, and now rugrat and her bf are catching it.

Rugrat was in a fender-bender on christmas eve at a local mall (a tiny woman in a big jeep backed her car up right on top of the front of our car; with a car behind her too, the rugrat couldn't move). And of course, the driver has high risk insurance, which is notoriously slow at paying out claims (hence our six weeks without the car a couple of months ago). And since it was 6 PM christmas eve, the insurance office is closed, and I can't even file a claim until monday morning. Not much visible damage, but there is a problem that makes it undriveable. So I'm without a car. Again.

Also on christmas eve (day), the washer broke. So we wound up dragging everything to the laundromat. Just before rugrat left for the mall. So, now we have to use the laundromat, but don't have a car to get there. Or, I can fight with the other nine families in our complex for the one washer in the basement. Lovely.

Two of my credit cards sent notices that they will be raising the APR. I can go with the flow and continue to use the cards at the new rate, or refuse the rate and my accounts will be closed, and I'll continue to pay them off at the old rate. Which means I'll now have four credit cards that are closed to prevent higher APRs, that I'm still trying to pay off, but that I can't use in emergency situations.

So, what am I thankful for?

The semester is over!!!! Ok fine, I still have prep for next semester, but still. It's over!!!

I finally met with my MFD committee earlier this month, and they didn't disown me like I thought they would. In fact, they are very supportive, since they know full well I'm teaching double the course load they are teaching.

I actually got rugrat number 1's presents in the mail before christmas. And the egg donor's too. And I survived another long phone call from the egg donor without exploding or imploding.

Despite being sick, the three of us got up and all did our part on making those homemade enchiladas and pico de gallo that we do for christmas dinner. And it was great, despite feeling crappy. Over dinner, we watched a movie that the bf had given rugrat as a gift (Crash).

I talked to rugrat 1 for a whole hour and a half this evening!!! He's such an incredible kid man, and I am so proud of him.

I'm sleeping in every day and slowly getting caught up on sleep.

I plan on finally doing two more installments in the runaway series (soundtrack of my life) over the next few days (just for you, my anonymous reader!). And hopefully, a few more posts that aren't a litany of complaints or updates, but that actually allow me to be creative.

Cyndi Lauper, Hey Now (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun):

Saturday, December 06, 2008

you get up every morning from your alarm clock's warning

A typical week in the life...


7:00 AM, alarm goes off.

7:00-8:00, shower, hair makeup, make bed, and give myself a good five minutes to take my synthroid and prilosec (because all pills gag me) with an ounce of juice (because anything more on my tummy that early will make me queasy all day.

8:00-9:45, commute. Walk to the train station, catch the 8:20, get to marble hill and hop the 1 at roughly 8:45, get to campus at 9:45 if there are no problems.

9:45-10:00, have a small bowl of cereal at the office because now I've been up long enough for food.

10:00-2:00, answer emails, read papers/assignments X 2 classes, record grades, prep for classes, search internet for examples/articles for a class discussion, make copies for classes.

2:00-4:00, office hours. See students as drop-ins, mainly at this point in the semester for registration advising, but also those with field placements and other issues.

4:00-5:30, grab dinner and eat at desk, final prep for class and run down to pick up lcd projector/computer for class.

5:30-6:45, class

6:45-7:00, field student questions and concerns after class.

7:00-9:45, catch subway and hope for connection with 8:20 pm train back home and make it, walk home.

9:45 on, veg for a bit in front of telly, make a bite to eat, do some dishes.

1:00, to bed, up several times with sleep disruptions.


7:00 AM, alarm goes off.

7:00-8:00, shower, hair makeup, make bed, and give myself a good five minutes to take my synthroid and prilosec (because all pills gag me) with an ounce of juice (because anything more on my tummy that early will make me queasy all day.

8:00-9:45, commute. Walk to the train station, catch the 8:20, get to marble hill and hop the 1 at roughly 8:45, get to campus at 9:45 if there are no problems.

9:45-10:00, have a small bowl of cereal at the office because now I've been up long enough for food.

10:00-12:00, last minute grading and class prep, pick up lcd projector/pc for class.

12:00-1:40, class.

1:40-2:00, field student questions and concerns after class.

2:00-3:00, grab lunch, eat in office while reading and responding to emails.

3:00-5:00, office hours. See students as drop-ins, mainly at this point in the semester for registration advising, but also those with field placements and other issues. See one student in particular who spends 45 minutes fretting about class, his/her performance, extracurricular activities (leader of student club), all while displaying a negative attitude and somewhat paranoid tendencies. Last student of the day doesn't leave until 5:30.

5:30-7:00, paperwork related to committee meetings.

7:00-9:45, catch subway and hope for connection with 8:20 pm train back home and make it, walk home.

9:45 on, veg for a bit in front of telly, make a bite to eat, do some dishes.

1:00, to bed, up several times with sleep disruptions.


7:00 AM, alarm goes off.

7:00-8:00, shower, hair makeup, make bed, and give myself a good five minutes to take my synthroid and prilosec (because all pills gag me) with an ounce of juice (because anything more on my tummy that early will make me queasy all day.

8:00-9:45, commute. Walk to the train station, catch the 8:20, get to marble hill and hop the 1 at roughly 8:45, get to campus at 9:45 if there are no problems.

9:45-10:00, have a small bowl of cereal at the office because now I've been up long enough for food.

10:00-11:00, prep for class.

11:00-11:50, class.

11:50-12:15, field questions/concerns from students.

12:15-12:45, meet with student about field placement.

12:45-2:00, grab lunch and eat at desk, grade student presentations from class last week to hand back today.

2:00-4:00, attend meeting of student club for which I am faculty advisor. Try to encourage students to make decisions about future of club while not stepping on the toes of the previously mentioned student with the paranoid tendencies who is not providing group leadership, and who I see in the department's office later that day filling out a form, which makes me wonder if she's lodging a complaint with the department chair (now who's paranoid?).

4:00-5:30, finish prep for class.

5:30-6:45, class.

6:45-7:10, field questions/concerns from students.

7:00-9:45, catch subway and hope for connection with 8:20 pm train back home and make it, walk home.

9:45 on, veg for a bit in front of telly, make a bite to eat, do some dishes.

1:00, to bed, up several times with sleep disruptions.


7:00 AM, alarm goes off.

7:00-8:00, shower, hair makeup, make bed, and give myself a good five minutes to take my synthroid and prilosec (because all pills gag me) with an ounce of juice (because anything more on my tummy that early will make me queasy all day.

8:00-9:45, commute. Walk to the train station, catch the 8:20, get to marble hill and hop the 1 at roughly 8:45, get to campus at 9:45 if there are no problems.

9:45-10:00, have a small bowl of cereal at the office because now I've been up long enough for food.

10:00-12:00, prep for class and write two letters of reference for a student (one scholarship, one for admission to ivy league school), emails including communications with two MFD committee people that I'll be meeting with next week, internet research, etc.

12:00-1:40, class.

1:40-2:00, field questions/concerns from students, including a student with a disability about whose attendance I had previously been concerned, and yet another students with some serious paranoid tendencies that may affect her next written assignment.

2:00-6:00, grab lunch and eat at desk, type up notes of teaching observation of adjunct teacher as I will meet with him later that afternoon, research articles online for future class use, begin work on a sample writing intensive assignment for critique at faculty development workshop the next day.

6:00, computer crashes and is useless.

6:45-7:15, meet with adjunct teacher.

7:15-9:45, catch subway and hope for connection with 8:20 pm train back home and actually make it despite leaving work at almost 7:30, walk home.

9:45 on, veg for a bit in front of telly, make a bite to eat, do some dishes.

1:00, to bed, up several times with sleep disruptions.


7:00 AM, alarm goes off.

7:00-8:00, shower, hair makeup, make bed, and give myself a good five minutes to take my synthroid and prilosec (because all pills gag me) with an ounce of juice (because anything more on my tummy that early will make me queasy all day.

8:00-9:45, commute. Walk to the train station, catch the 8:20, get to marble hill and hop the 1 at roughly 8:45, get to campus at 9:45 if there are no problems.

9:45, call help desk to get assistance on computer, am given instructions which I follow and leave the computer to do its thing hoping the help actually worked.

10:00-12:00, last workshop session for the semester on developing writing intensive courses; I do not have my sample assignment because of computer crash.

noon, during lunch break I run to my office to check my computer, which is still not working, call the computer help desk again, they start a 'ticket' for work, I run back to workshop.

12:00-2:00, rest of workshop, over lunch there is a discussion about correct pronunciation of words, and I have a disagreement (not a good idea) with a very senior, very well-respected (by everyone, including me) professor who says you can't tell a native speaker that they are pronouncing a word incorrectly because it is their native language, while I maintain that there is a correct pronunciation for each word and just because subgroups of people pronounce a word in a particular way doesn't make it the correct pronunciation, but I don't support my argument very well so I feel like a complete idiot and dwell on it for the rest of the day.

2:00-3:30, go back to office to discover that the computer has been fixed (at least temporarily), and I do some online research I needed to do before making a final decision about next semester's textbooks, fill out order forms for said textbooks, check emails, etc.

3:30, decide I don't want to stay in that office a minute longer even if it means taking work home, so I pack up the papers for two classes to grade at home, make stops at macy's and target on the way to return things I purchased on black friday.

6:30, actually arrived home at a reasonable hour, cooked dinner, and watched the telly, but did not grade papers.

2:30 am, to bed.


11:00 AM-2:00 AM, up, make bed, cook french toast for me, rugrat, her bf, watch tv, grade papers, blog a little, grade more papers, work on variable table for meeting with MFD committee persons next week, touch up grey roots, etc.


Clean apartment, do laundry, take out garbage and recycling.

If all paperwork is done on Saturday, will pull holiday decorations out of storage room in basement and let rugrat decorate the tree.

BTO, Takin' Care of Business:

(Yeah, I don't take the 8:15 into the city, but I do take the 8:20. I saw these guys in concert, probably about 1975-ish.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

apropos of nothing part deux

My former boss has kept me in his email list for political issues, and he just sent me this link to photos of Obama et al. on election night.

They are incredible. The ones prior to the acceptance ceremony are the best.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

apropos of nothing

It's interesting how one's reaction to car repair costs can change in different circumstances. Ordinarily, a $175 bill for spark plugs would have me halfway to broken. But given the major things I've had to do for the car this year -- things that have forced me to sell stuff on craig's list for bucks -- I didn't even blink an eye at this. In fact, I finally began to breathe normally when I heard that it wasn't an $800 computer. Seems that I'd been forking out so much for major repairs that I forgot about the annual tuneup.


At the checkstand at Target, Obama's first book in my open handbag, title facing up. The checker sees it, and the following conversation ensues:

Her: I didn't know he'd written a book!
Me: He's written three I believe. This is the first one, before he became heavily involved in politics.
Her: Is it good?
Me: I think so; it's about his family. He's a very good writer.
Her: I have to buy that, where did you get it?
Me: Upstairs at Barnes & Noble.

Later that night I was telling the little story to rugrat, when she said:

I didn't know he'd written books!



Rugrat's boyfriend has all but moved in with us lately, and as nice as he is, it's driving me nuts. He's even here when she is at work. He stays in her room and doesn't make a nuisance of himself, but I can't really relax when he's here. I mean, I can't run around in my underwear, go to the bathroom with the door open, or feel like I can munch on junk at night in front of the telly when I know he's in the next room.

It seems that his mom had the phone, internet, and cable all shut off for nonpayment, so there's nothing to do at his place. His mother boggles my mind when it comes to finances. She takes her kids and rugrat on a caribbean cruise, while utilities are shut off. She goes down to atlantic city to gamble, while her rent goes unpaid and they get eviction notices regularly (which she then makes her son go take care of for her because she can't face them in person).

I don't get it. First, she makes more than I do, so she should be able to pay her bills. Second, I may spend a lot more than I should on luxuries, but the basic bills always get paid first. I would never risk potential homelessness like that. I simply can't imagine living in that kind of financial chaos -- I can barely handle my own car problems.


I finally received the cola that we were due a year ago, but the union and the state were hammering out details till way past the date the last contract ended. So we all got the last year's cola in one lump sum in our last paycheck. That's why I didn't blink much about the car, I suppose. The rest of the cola went to groceries and bills. And I'll buy a couple of things for toys for tots in the next week or so.


I finally got up the courage to email my MFD committee chair, who had emailed me a month ago to see where I was in the process. There's no way I can even think about it till the semester's over, but I'm going to have to put in 60 hour weeks over the break to get something worthwhile done.

That, of course, is in addition to advising students; overseeing a few students who are still in field placements and have incompletes until they finish their hours; reading the new textbook I've adopted for my policy course; and updating all my syllabi to incorporate what I've learned from various faculty development workshops.

Ummm, yeah.


I did splurge at best buy with my cola check. I picked up a few oldies but goodies from my past, mostly on sale.

the cars
edgar winter
chaka khan
cyndi lauper

Chaka Khan, I feel for you:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


She'd been having a lot of headaches the past few months. At first, they were pounding headaches at her temples and the base of her neck. Supposedly, tension headaches that are typical of menopause (oh yay!). The kind of headaches where it hurts to put on a hat, or earmuffs in the cold, or pull your hair back into a ponytail, or lay your head on the arm of the sofa. But the last few weeks they've been what she called empty-headed headaches. Like the feeling your brain gets when you've pulled an all-nighter or been up for a couple of days.

She first got those headaches over 20 years ago, when she had viral encephalitis; it was the feeling of her brain swelling inside her skull, with nowhere for the swelling to go. After she recovered, she had a tendency to get the headaches when she was horrendously over-tired; with the headaches came severe nausea. The empty-headed headaches slowly stopped coming back, until she very rarely had them anymore. But now, she'd had them for about four weeks straight, with more bad days than good ones.

She stepped off the train Thursday night with just such a headache. A very cold, clear, crisp night; windy enough for the weather reports to mention a wind chill factor. It was almost 10, and she didn't make it home earlier than 9-ish any night that week. But that night, it was cold enough that as she stepped off the train, she was greeted with the distinctive smell of a wood fire. The smoke, likely from the fireplace of someone keeping warm, carried through the village on the breeze, and woke a memory in her.

You know how it is, when a smell reminds you of something...something familiar...but you can't quite place it. You think, and think, and eventually you pull that memory from the depths of the complex brain that stores all memories. Sometimes the memory is good, and sometimes...well, not so much. You live for the good ones, though.

The memory that night was right there, tugging at her consciousness, but just out of reach. She could tell it was a good memory -- no anxiety or fear bubbled up from within. Just a sense of calm, peace. But the actual memory wouldn't come forth with casual delving into her brain, no doubt due to the headache. At first, she tried digging deeper into the recesses of her mind, but it became apparent that the digging would have to be intense to bring this memory forth.

She would have to climb the steps to the attic of her mind, chop down the closet door, pry up the wooden floor slats, drag out the big old-fashioned trunk with the brass hinges, take a hammer to the lock, and rummage through the past to find that particular memory. Or into the office, and the file cabinet, with the drawers that open like the file cabinet on bruce almighty forcing him to the opposite wall as it opened, so stuffed full it was; she'd have to find the memory among all the other fluff in that drawer filling her brain.

But she just didn't have it in her tonight. Rifling through her brain like that with the headache she had would have been excruciating. All she wanted right now was about four ibuprofens and her pillow with the soft satin case. And a darkened room, with soft music -- preferably something classical. Perhaps a cup of cocoa.

So, she accepted the anonymous memory for what it was -- something lovely from her past, something that made her feel good. And all the way home, she breathed deeply in the cold night air, filling her lungs, her body, her brain, with the smell of wood smoke -- and a memory.

cats, memory (it seemed appropriate here)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

just shoot me now

So, the car.

Sensing a theme here?

When the body shop finished all the work on the car, it suddenly stopped running. The engine would turn over, but it wouldn't come on. They determined that it was the (a) computer. A new computer would have run $700 big ones, on top of what we were already paying for our 20%. We just didn't have that kind of money laying around. But then the shop said they had found a used computer for $75.

Now computers aren't like other parts that can be replaced with something used -- the replacement computer has to have the same exact part number as the computer you are replacing. Miraculously, it did -- and they checked it carefully. We even passed state inspections three days later.

Last Saturday, after taking rugrat to the airport, the check engine light came on. It was driving alright though, at that point. I took it into my regular mechanics, and they said the TCM (computer controlling the transmission) had a P1613 code, which meant I had to take the car to the hyundai people and would probably have to replace the computer. Don't ask what that would cost.

But since we had just replaced another computer, it was also possible that the two computers simply weren't communicating with each other because of the replacement. Or that the used computer had a problem. It would be difficult to know until the dealer checked it out.

So, I took the car home on Wednesday and parked it for the rest of the week. I went out just a bit ago to do some grocery shopping, and the car started roughly, puttered, and died. And wouldn't turn on again. The engine turns over, but it doesn't start.

So here I sit, still without a car, with no money for computer replacements. No dealer open on the weekends to even call and talk to their mechanic. And I would need a tow to get there anyway.

And I'm supposed to pick up rugrat at the airport Monday morning.

There's a limit to how many things can be piled on to one person.

Sometimes it doesn't make you stronger at all, it just makes you...oh, never mind.

Excuse me while I go have a good cry.

You get no music or photos or colours on this one...I'm at the limit of my positivity.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

they only come out at night

So we got the little red car that couldn't back five weeks to the day after the accident. It looked like new (see?), and ran well.

Two days later we had to do the annual state inspection (for you non-New Yorkers, downstate inspections are quite fierce). We were nervous, but it passed, thank goodness.

Then last night, on the way home from driving rugrat and her boyfriend to the airport to board a plane to Puerto Rico for a week-long tropical cruise courtesy of the boyfriend's mother, the check engine light came on.


Work remains as crazy as usual. Still teaching 3 courses, serving on two high profile committees with a lot of responsibility, advising a student club, and participating in a faculty development training on writing across the curriculum, so that the writing intensive classes that I'm already teaching can get official WI status.

And that's not counting all the little things that come up, like student advising, student letters of recommendation, adjunct observations, etc. I love the hell out of it, but it takes a lot out of me. I leave home at 8 in the morning, and don't get home till 10 or 11 that night. I can't wait till I can move into the city and knock a good 2.5 to 3 hours off that time.

I met a fellow blogger the week before halloween, and showed her Ellen's Stardust Diner in Times Square, where the waitstaff -- budding broadway stars -- entertain the audience. We had a great time, and she told me I didn't look at all like a frumpy, middle-aged professor.

On halloween, rugrat and her bf came into the city for the parade. I met them for dinner at dallas bbq on42nd, they went to the parade, I went to a movie, and then we met up again dessert at coldstone's, followed by a packed subway ride home. I snapped some fairly good shots that night - -I hope I can post them soon.

Health-wise, I'm back on synthroid for the goiter, and hoping that will even out the hormones some. I've felt a bit wonky for a couple of months now, and I'm not sure what it is. I keep getting headaches that are strangely reminiscent of my bout with viral encephalitis 20 years ago, along with some serious physical exhaustion that has me conking out whenever I get a chance to sit for more than a few minutes. I know I'll need to tell the doc about it soon if it doesn't go away.

The pain that I've had in my knees and hips has become worse, and while we haven't done any tests yet, the doc is suggesting it is likely osteoarthritis. The most common methods of treating the symptoms? Ibuprofen and...exercise. Yes, working out through the pain. I've been walking through the pain, but I don't think I can do anything that would go too much beyond that. And I won't tell you how many bottles of ibuprofen I've been through in the last few months.

But, to use a term from the 70's, I keep on truckin'. I still have that smile on my face every day, I still love my work, and I still have hope that the health issues will work themselves out.

I miss like hell not being able to really 'write' here like I used to. Even a simple people-watching post would do me good -- I've seen so much in my daily commute. Ah, well...I imagine my personal writing will be something that happens mainly when I'm in between semesters. I'll just have to keep it all in my head until then.

muddy waters, johnny winter, et al:

and another...blues doesn't get any better than this:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the first vote

I got up early and voted before work this morning, since I didn't know for sure if I'd be home before 9 (last night I wasn't home till 11).

This one was special though, as rugrat voted in her first ever election. I'm kind of glad that her first election was a presidential one; I think it made her look forward to voting in a way she might not have otherwise.

I went online last night and printed out a copy of our local ballot, so I could go over the other 'electibles' for our county -- which included a state senator, a state assemblymember, a US representative, a county judge, and something called proposition 1. I wanted her to know that voting wasn't just about the president, and that local elections were just as important -- dare I say, more important? -- than the presidential election.

In NY, we still use those manual machines (in Westchester, the Sequoia ImageCast), so we pull a red-handled lever to close curtains, flick several small metal levers, and then pull that red handle once more to finalize our vote and open the curtains. I rather like those machines -- I don't think I'd like voting with computer screens at all.

The rugrat didn't want to go by herself today, and since I wouldn't have been home in time, and she works this evening, she -- the girl least likely to open her eyes to the light of day before noon -- got out of bed and went with me at the ungodly hour of 8:00 this morning. That's how excited she was to cast her vote for Obama (she said it's very sad that his grandmother didn't make it to see him elected President).

Of course, she then went straight home and straight back to bed.

Oh well...can't win them all.


Friday, October 24, 2008


...would pay off my student loans in full.

And leave me with about $10,000 and change for rugrat's college fund. Which is exactly what the college determined my 'family contribution' should be when we didn't get any student aid.

Sarah Palin is wearing the equivalent of my entire student loan debt.

And rugrat's two-year community college degree.

What is wrong with this picture...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

the little red car that couldn't

The auto body shop called me on Tuesday. They said that they would do all the work on the car, even though it would cost more than the insurance company's estimate. Why? Because if they tried to pass the additional cost on to the insurance company, the company would have just totaled the car out and left us with no car at all.

The auto shop was not going to ask me to pay the extra over my 20% either; they were planning to take a loss on anything over the approved total. When have you ever heard of an auto company doing that? I wish I could plug them here, but that would give away my location.

Well, then they called me on Thursday afternoon. They were going to pull the car back into the shop to finish the work so that the car would be ready on Friday. The problem: even though the car had been running previously, now it wouldn't start. It turned over, but it wouldn't start. Their mechanics had no idea what the problem was. They were calling me to see if I'd put some cut-off theft deterrent device on the car that could be causing the engine not to kick in. Of course, I hadn't.

I didn't hear from them at all on Friday. What do you think the odds are that after all the work they've done on the car, the fucker won't run?

We are now four weeks without the car. Four weeks of no grocery shopping. Four weeks of rugrat living at her boyfriend's mom's house. I think it's getting old for the bf's mom. I don't know how much longer rugrat will be a welcome sight over there. And I don't know what we'll do when she can't stay there anymore. She won't be able to get home from work otherwise.

How can something so simple fuck things up so badly?

Little deuce coupe, the beach boys:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I almost never do these anymore

You are a Jackie. "I do everything the right way."

Jackies are realistic, conscientious, and principled. They strive to live up to their high ideals.

How to Get Along with Me

* Take your share of the responsibility so I don't end up with all the work.
* Acknowledge my achievements.
* I'm hard on myself. Reassure me that I'm fine the way I am.
* Tell me that you value my advice.
* Be fair and considerate, as I am.
* Apologize if you have been unthoughtful. It will help me to forgive.
* Gently encourage me to lighten up and to laugh at myself when I get uptight, but hear my worries first.

What I Like About Being a Jackie

* Being self-disciplined and able to accomplish a great deal
* Working hard to make the world a better place
* Having high standards and ethics; not compromising myself
* Being reasonable, responsible, and dedicated in everything I do
* Being able to put facts together, coming to good understandings, and figuring out wise solutions
* Being the best I can be and bringing out the best in other people

What's Hard About Being a Jackie

* Being disappointed with myself or others when my expectations are not met
* Feeling burdened by too much responsibility
* Thinking that what I do is never good enough
* Not being appreciated for what I do for people
* Being upset because others aren't trying as hard as I am
* Obsessing about what I did or what I should do
* Being tense, anxious, and taking things too seriously

Jackies as Children Often

* Criticize themselves in anticipation of criticism from others
* Refrain from doing things that they think might not come out perfect
* Focus on living up to the expectations of their parents and teachers
* Are very responsible; may assume the role of parent
* Hold back negative emotions ("good children aren't angry")

Jackies as Parents

* Teach their children responsibility and strong moral values
* Are consistent and fair
* Discipline firmly

Take the quiz yourself at HelloQuizzy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

nobody gets out of life alive

The craziness is still there.

Oh, I managed to get lots of papers graded, and meeting minutes typed up and emailed out. I even spent a few hours doing a literature search for the new lit review on the MFD. Wound up with two dozen good articles. I even set a goal of reading and summarizing three articles per week. Whether that happens or not is anyone's guess.

But most of that was accomplished simply because classes weren't held during the Jewish holidays, so I didn't have class prep. And still, I brought 38 papers home to grade over the three-day weekend. Not to mention things being out of control in the other committee I'm on.

And to top it off, I fucked up with the bills and paid two credit card payments two days late this week. I never do that, 'cause the resulting fees are so bad. And now is not the time to be screwing with my credit score, not when I want to move into the city and they do credit checks.

I feel like each week, I'm walking through the center of a tornado. Everything I'm supposed to keep in the air whirls around and around and half the time when I reach for it -- it's sucked right up through the vortex and is lost forever. And if I don't hang on to something solid, I'm afraid I'll get sucked right up that vortex along with everything I'm supposed to be juggling.

By the weekend, I'm a mental wreck. I wind up locking myself in the apartment, not showering, laying in front of the tv, snacking, and napping all day, just to build enough strength to get through the coming week. I'm finding myself doubting sometimes if I made the right choice with this job, and with next summer's move. It's all so damned overwhelming, I keep wondering if this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years.

And we still don't have a car.

And the toaster broke today.

But I have to end on a positive note or I'll go postal. Rugrat one actually returned my happy bd phone call with a text message, and my email with one of his own. I must have raised him well somehow...he and his wife are building their own home, can you believe it. And building a 'mother-in-law' apartment for me, for when I retire. Of course that would mean leaving the city and going back to Washington -- but what a kid, to think of me, and what a wife to support something like that.

I miss that kid so damned much sometimes. As I get older, I remember more and more things from when he was a kid. Not having him close, and neither of us being the world's greatest communicators, leaves me with no one to share those moments with when they come to my mind. It was just him and I for so long, after all -- there's no one else in the world who shared those early moments with us.

I keep wanting to write them all down, but it becomes one of those many things swirling around and around me in that tornado. I'm afraid if I reach for it, it will get sucked up into the vortex with everything else, and be lost forever.

Simply Red:

photo mine, taken near the wtc site

(title -- quote from movie Hud)

Friday, October 10, 2008

the apple of my grey hair

So rugrat one turns 29 today. At 9:05 pm, pacific standard time. I'd like to call him at the time of his birth, but that means calling at 12:05 am on the 11th, my time.

This was him at about four or five months:

I kept that little velour sweatsuit along with other outfits, and sent them to him about a year ago.

And yes, I just emailed him that video; he'll love it!

Monday, October 06, 2008

she sits alone by a lamppost

So the auto body shop called and said they can't fix the car for what the insurance company budgeted 'cause the fucking parts just aren't available for the prices the insurance company quoted

and they can fix it so it runs safely but it won't be 'pretty,' in which case we'll have a car, or they can assess the real cost, in which case the insurance company will total the car out and give us a check for about $1500, minus our 20% 'cause the rugrat didn't drive into the gutter and over the fucking curb to avoid the fucking asshole that rammed into her.

Oh, and the only way they'll do the work is for cash only, which means I have to cash the insurance check (if I ever get it) and pay them cash and also give them my 20% in cash, which is fine really since I don't have enough open on any of my credit cards anyway.

But since I don't have any cash on hand 'cause I have to make my payments on those credit cards to avoid late charges, even though I've actually closed most of them so that I can learn to be credit independent, but I still have to make payments dammit,

so I'm selling my good ikea furniture on craig's list and getting crappy cheap shit with my target card for way less than I'm selling my good ikea stuff for so that I will have cash for the fucking car and still have furniture, and it isn't so much that I'm getting crappy cheap target shit that kills me, but more that I have to pull this kind of financial round robin when I should be able to afford something like this without playing games.

Someone came and bought my entertainment stand for $50 last night, and the idiot came in a sedan, despite my posting the dimensions of the thing on craig's, and when it wouldn't fit in his car, as I knew it wouldn't, we sat outside in the damp cold dark at 8 o'clock at night taking it apart so it would fit in his car, and I've had the chills ever since, can't get warm, and I got a tv stand at target online for $20 and free delivery, so I made $30 on the deal for the car.

Did I mention that I'm tired of health issues, I used to be healthy, and like two years ago my body just fell apart, failed me, and I seem to have passed some point of no return in which I can't get well no matter how positive I try to stay, and it's harder and harder to stay positive now that I can't even take the hormones for the big M mood swings 'cause of the fucking blood clot.

My asthma has been bad for weeks now, and I'm about out of both inhalers, but I can't get the ones I have renewed 'cause they weren't on the generic list and one of them was $37, which I don't have right now, and if I make a trip to the doc to get cheaper prescriptions, it'll cost me in office copays, and I'd be running around to the doc and the guessed it...without a fucking car, mixing the bus and miles of walking.

I had some bloodwork done last Monday, and I always use my left arm for needles since the clot in my right arm, and my left arm has been hurting ever since the blood draw, and the pain has moved up into the muscle of my upper arm, just like it did before, and I can't tell if I just have a sore muscle or another fucking dvt. I cannot go to the fucking hospital right now, I just can't. And I think if I had to go back on the anticoagulant I'd lose it completely and they'd have to lock me in a padded room to protect me from me, and dudes, I am scared shitless right now.

Today my hands have been shaking and my heart speeding and pounding like it did when I was 17 and a speed freak. You know, street speed, cross top, the kind that came 20 hits for $5 that we called nicklebags, and that I would take over the course of the first day, fly for two more days, and then crash for the last two days of the week. So I'm all shaky like the first days of the high, yet at the same time exhausted and brain dead like the last days, and the base of my skull has been pounding for days and nothing less than 6 ibuprofen will numb the pain, and of course that puts me to sleep, so I can only get relief when I go to bed.

And then there is the student who I am quite sure has paranoid personality disorder or schizophrenia, paranoid, and has admitted to another concerned student that they are not taking their prescribed meds, and the other concerned student came to me today to tell me the PPD student said she/he knew I was 'after' him/her and the concerned student is scared that the PPD student might just lose it at school and that I might be a target, not because he/she made any specific threats but because of the way he/she acted, and of course I'm telling the right people, but really, we have minimal security and students're gonna do what they're gonna do.

And on the way home I was so exhausted and disheartened that I could barely hold it in, and then the girl sitting in the seat in front of me laid her head on her someone's shoulder and all I could think was who does she think she is to have someone, and flaunt it in front of me when I'm all alone and I wanted to kick the seat or spill something on her, but then he got up and got off at a stop before her while she stayed on the train so I laughed inside 'cause at least she was going home alone tonight just like me.

And yet I get up every fucking morning and paste a smile on my face as soon as the front door shuts behind me and I go through all the right motions and say all the right things so that no one knows that I'm going through shit and have no one to talk to, 'cause all they see is the professional who always has a laugh and a joke and behaves appropriately to the situation and never lets them see me sweat. Or cry.

And I actually keep those sad feelings at bay and enjoy most of what I do and even got told by a visitor in the class tonight that I rocked as a teacher and they wish they'd had a teacher like me and damn, that's what makes it all worthwhile, that's why I do what I do and keep that fucking smile on my face, and I'm great until I'm alone again.

And then I'm alone on the ride home and it all comes washing over me all over again, but somehow I manage to hold it all in 'til I get home and shut the door and lock myself in, cold and alone, for the night.

hootie, let her cry:

(photo mine, taken in quito, ecuador, 2000; this is how rural people protect their gardens from animals and humans)

Friday, October 03, 2008

life can be bright and beautiful, sunshine and daffodils

I had the car towed to the body shop this morning. I went to the same place as three years ago, when the woman in the SUV backed into me. I liked them, and they are on the side of the client in insurance claims.

The final verdict (or maybe not so final) is that they assessed the damage at $1700. Unfortunately, it was done by pricing salvage parts that were available when the assessment was done, nine days ago. Whether those parts are still available is anyone's guess. This was done in an attempt to prevent totaling out the car. One problem is that the assessor didn't look at the engine, and it is running very roughly. There may be much more costly work to be done, and we won't know until the body shop checks it out. So really, it's still up in the air if it will be repaired or totaled.

They have decided that the fault split is 80/20. They came to this conclusion because the insurance person asked the rugrat if she could have steered the car to the right (where normally cars are parked) to avoid the accident. Rugrat's response was pure 18-year-old: ummm, I don't know, I guess so. So because she failed to avoid the accident, we have to pay 20% of the repair costs. And if the repair costs go above $1700, our cost goes up as well.

Two weeks without a car, and counting. And what do I do when the going gets tough? I buy food. And eat. So I went by the grocery store and got stuff. Like pringles and dr pepper. And stouffers french bread pizza. Right now I'm eating spreadable sharp cheddar on 'stoned wheat thins' (I kid you not; and I wish I were...stoned that is...ok fine, and thin). And I have ben and jerry's for later. And a people mag with Newman on the cover.

Apropos of nothing: having the medical assistant at the doc's office tell you, when you step off the scale, that you 'don't look like you weigh that much,' really isn't a compliment. You know?

On the other hand, the doc was great. When I said I've been avoiding workouts because of the pain (I haven't blogged about the pain yet), I mentioned that I know that's not much of an excuse, 'cause no pain, no gain, right. His response: sure, but if your body is in new kind of pain, it's often an indication that something needs to be looked at.

The pain? Since last year and the anticoagulants, I've had serious knee and hip pain, even when I'm just walking. I expected it to get better when I went off the meds, but it's been getting worse. Now the pain radiates out from the knees and hips, moving through the entire thigh. And it doesn't just happen when I am physical; several times a week, I'm in pain without doing much of anything. And you all know I'm a masochist, so if I say it's pain, it's pain.

Work: now that I'm tenure-track, I've had to add serving the department and the college. I'm on the committee that is responsible for student activity funds -- in fact, I got stuck as secretary. I fucking hate taking notes and typing them up; and I owe them minutes for two meetings that happened two weeks ago.

I'm also on our college's version of a teaching and learning center. On the board, that is. And co-chair of the programming committee. Right now, we are supposed to be getting faculty to present scholarly topics, and developing questions for the president's coffee hour in november.

I'm also adviser to a student club, in which some mind-boggling passive-aggressive behavior is going on that I simply can't be arsed to deal with. And I have papers to grade in one class, and two weeks of papers to grade in another. I am hopelessly behind, at only 1/3 through the semester. And don't ask about MFD progress.

High points of the week: after my thyroid ultrasound on wednesday, I went by the library to find some good zen music, and had a hard time staying in the limit of what I can check out.

Check these out:

Van Morrison, the Healing Game
The Stones, Flowers
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me
Cher, Essential Collection
Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View
Blues Traveler, Four
Josh Groban, Awake
Liz Phair
Adam Sandler, they're all gonna laugh at you (dudes, I couldn't resist -- it's got the lunchlady song and the thanksgiving song)
Herman's Hermits, retrospective (it's herman's hermits, y'all! Did I ever mention that I saw Peter Noone in concert, back in 1973; he opened for the jackson 5, which was the worst pairing I can think of...the people who came to see J5 certainly didn't come to see Noone...but I was in heaven)

My life really has become something with a soundtrack in the background, just like in the movies. I have the zen on constantly, but never loud because of ear pain from a chronic sinus condition. It's on low enough that I could carry on a conversation with someone. So it really is music in the background as I walk -- or stumble -- through each day.

Thursday evening I left work after dark, and walked out the front door of the building. I never know quite what I'll find when I leave work, as I tend not to be where there are windows while in the building. Thursday, the sky was black, but it was amazingly clear. So I walked out and was greeted by the brightly lit tops of the tall buildings (like the woolworth building) crisply outlined against the black sky. It was incredible, and I just stood there for several minutes staring up at the sky.

My accompanying soundtrack of the moment was norah jones, come away with me. And as I looked at the sky, a random image of leaning back against someone, his arms around me, and feeling the warmth of his body against my back as we both appreciated the moment entered my mind. And I went with it, and enjoyed it for what it was. And I'll end on that particular high note.

(title is a line from the movie 'once upon a honeymoon,' 1942, cary grant and ginger rogers -- below is the scene in question, it starts about 5 minutes in)

(and this is norah)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

proof of life

They still didn't have a car, a week later. The rugrat had temporarily relocated to her boyfriend's -- with his two brothers and his mother -- so she could get to and from work. That left her alone all week.

It wasn't so bad coming home from work alone, since rugrat came home after her anyway. But now she wasn't waiting up til 1:30 or 2 to be sure the rr got home ok; instead, she was hitting the sack at the more reasonable hour of midnight.

Other things had changed around the apartment too. When she did the dishes, she didn't come back an hour later to a full sink of newly dirtied ones. She didn't open the fridge door to the smell of leftovers hastily tossed aside without tight seals. When she picked up the end tables in the living room, they weren't full of junk again when rr came home from work and unloaded her handbag.

Clothes and shoes tossed into rr's bedroom didn't start creeping back out into the hallway. The shower didn't have a layer of soap scum near the drain, which was not clogged with long, dark brown hair. When the computer was turned off for the night, it stayed off. No tell-tale lights left on to indicate that someone had come and gone in her absence.

No voices murmuring softly at night as rr and bf tried to argue quietly. No tv running in the background because rr fell asleep before turning it off. No waking up out of a sound sleep because someone else got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

In short, all those little signs of someone else were no longer there. Proof of life. Proof that someone other than herself existed in her little corner of reality. Proof that she was not alone. Gone. She got up alone, she went to bed alone. If she bothered with dinner, she ate it alone. She watched tv alone.

She was even alone in her office all day today except for the two students who stopped by. She had to leave the office to interact with others -- reprographics, the library, the tech office to order an lcd projector for next week. All told, less than one of her seven hours of work. The rest, alone.

Tonight, she went to a movie after work and sat all alone in a theatre full of people. She was alone walking to the subway later -- alone on a street teeming with life. Alone on the subway. Alone on the platform waiting for the train. Alone coming home and walking in the door. Alone when she ordered and ate pizza because she hadn't been able to grocery shop without the car. Alone the several times she became teary-eyed over the evening.

Alone now. Alone going to bed very soon because she can't keep her eyes open. Because she's exhausted herself with being alone.

the world it won't wait for you
its got its own things to do
the sun's gotta rise and drive another night away
and as i listen to the silence
i can hear thunder in the distance

Colin Hay, My Brilliant Feat:

photo mine, taken at Caramoor, Katonah, NY

Monday, September 22, 2008

dear valued customer


I recently noticed that the APR on my account has been increased from 29.50% to 35.50%.

I contacted customer service on August 23 to let them know that I should have been notified about the change, so that I could choose to decline the change and close my account.

Customer service gave me a number to call to speak with someone about the issue. That number is 800-707-9835.

I called that number and the outgoing message indicated that the number was no longer accepting calls.

I called back customer service and spoke with the same supervisor, who indicated that they have no information indicating that the number was not in service. He told me it was probably not answering because it was a Saturday. He told me to try it again during the work week.

I tried it again today (Tuesday, August 26), but it has the same outgoing message.

Bottom line:

I was not informed of the change in the APR and given an opportunity to decline the change.

I am declining the change in writing in this contact.

I request that my APR stay as it was (29.50%), and that my account be closed at that interest rate.

I will continue to make regular payments on the account until it is paid in full.


Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. This email is in response to your recent inquiry.

Your account has been closed. You should receive a letter within 7 to 10 business days confirming the account closure. We cannot contact your creditors to stop automatic charges that you previously authorized to be paid from your account. Please contact your creditors directly.

Your APR (annual percentage rate) is a Variable Rate. Bank policy does not allow the processing of cardholder-initiated rate reduction requests. The current rate you have is all that we can offer at this time.

We appreciate and value your business. Please let us know if you have any further questions regarding your account.

Thank you for contacting Customer Service.

Visit for helpful information on setting and reaching your financial goals.

P.O. Box 105555 | Atlanta, GA 30348-5555 | 1-888-618-9920 |


Dear Valued Company,

In response to your response below, please note that I am not requesting an APR rate REDUCTION. I am requesting that you REINSTATE the original APR.

Your company is LEGALLY REQUIRED to provide customers with a 30-day notice if you are going to raise the APR. The customer has the right to decline/opt out/reject the increase in the APR by not charging anything more on the card, closing the account, and paying off the balance with the initial, existing APR.

You did not provide me with a 30-day notice that you would be increasing the APR on my account. In fact, I received no notice at all. Once I received my monthly statement and notice the APR increase, I contacted your company to rectify the situation. I have not used the credit card since PRIOR to the APR increase, and I closed my account as soon as I discovered that your company had raised the APR without notice. I should therefore, LEGALLY, be allowed to pay off the balance due AT THE INITIAL APR of 29.50%, NOT THE INCREASED APR of 35.50%.

I request that you honor your LEGAL OBLIGATION and REINSTATE the INITIAL APR of 29.50% to my account until the balance is paid.


Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. This email is in response to your recent inquiry.

We have processed your request to have your account placed back on its original terms. The APR has been reduced back to 29.50%. You will see this APR reflected on your next month statement.

We have issued adjustments on your account to cover the higher APR that was accessed on your July-September 2008 statements. The following is an outline of the credits the have been issued on the purchase finance charges:

07/07/08 statement - $11.75 Purchase Finance Charge Credit
08/06/08 statement - $11.94 Purchase Finance Charge Credit
09/08/08 statement - $11.48 Purchase Finance Charge Credit

We appreciate and value your business. Please let us know if you have any further questions regarding your account.

Thank you for contacting Customer Service.

Visit for helpful information on setting and reaching your financial goals.


SCORE! I really didn't think I'd get anywhere with this one. What a pleasant surprise.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

in which wamu attempts to balance its bankruptcy on the backs of the masses

I have had a minor credit card that I obtained through paypal for about five years now. WaMu took it over a few months back. Only a $500 loc, I use it only when I need to and pay it off regularly. Never made a late payment, never gone over limit. Never asked for an loc increase, or an apr decrease. After paying it to a zero balance this spring, I needed to use it for expenses related to the lmsw exam and rugrat's graduation. The balance as of July 11 was $476.

On August 6, the day before the monthly payment was due, I made a $20 payment online through their online site, just as I have month after month for five years. I even had a confirmation number. When I logged back on on August 14 to get the amount of the next month's payment for my budget, I discovered that the account had been charged a late fee of $39. This, of course, just put me over my credit limit, so the account was also assessed an over limit fee of $39.

Needless to say, I called and complained. They said the August 6 payment was 'returned' because they 'couldn't find the account' (that would be my bank account). They also said their system doesn't allow for fee reversal when it is over the limit. They said I would have to pay the $81 that was over limit, and then they would reverse the fees. I paid $20 on August 14, and $61 on September 8.

Then I logged on today to check the amount due for October, and much to my surprise, my balance was still $553 -- $53 over the limit. Turns out that they removed the first over-limit fee, but not the late fee. So once the $14 in interest was added in the new cycle, it put me over the limit, and then they tacked on another $39 over limit fee.

Let's just say I saw red, red, and then more red. I called customer service, explained the problem, and was told the same thing -- they can't reverse fees until the over limit is paid. After 25 minutes of arguing with the guy, I asked for a manager. While on hold waiting, the call was cut off.

So now I'm really angry, and I call again. Of course, they won't connect me with a manager until I spend another half-hour going around in circles with another customer rep. I, of course, state that I refuse to pay over limit fees when the account was only over limit in the first place because of their late fee, which I shouldn't have been charged in the first place because I made the payment on time.

After multiple circular arguments, I asked a couple of times for a manager, but this girl was good. 'You'll get the same response from a manager that you get from me, we simply can't reverse fees when an account is over limit.'

Well, clearly my anger had escalated over the last hour, and my voice had raised, but I'd held my temper and done really well at saying 'WaMu,' as opposed to 'you,' in an attempt not to personally attack the rep. And I hadn't sworn once, believe it or not. Until...

This rep told me that not only did I have to pay the amount over the limit, but also the monthly payment, and the over limit fee -- a total of $115 to get my account out of arrears and to avoid yet another over limit fee again next month, with none of that going toward the actual balance.

That did it. 'Now I'm really angry, and I need to speak to a fucking manager now.' Yep, I really said it. She put me on hold, a manager came on and tried initially to give me the same story. I bluntly told him I wasn't paying a late fee for a payment I made and received confirmation for, and I certainly wasn't paying any over limit fees based on that late fee.

He put me on hold for a moment, and five minutes after first being connected to him, he told me he had done a one-time reversal of the initial late fee and the most recent over limit fee, it would show on my account online on Monday, and my account would again be under limit.

But I thought they couldn't do fee reversals when the account was over limit?! HA!!

Now we'll see what happens Monday...

the damage

The damage starts at the rear door and extends to the front of the car.

It's worse in the front.

And it's bad enough at the front that the frame is rubbing against the tire; it would have to be towed to the repair shop.

And what happens if the repairs are more than the car is worth and they just give me a check for blue book on the car? I get nothing, and I have nothing. Basically, we're fucked.

Friday, September 19, 2008

mami, you need to call me right back, someone just hit our car!

Unfortunately, I didn't listen to that voice mail message until I was at home with rugrat this evening, although the message came in at 11:30 this morning.

I, of course, was in meetings back-to-back from 10 til 3. Afterward, I stopped by Macy's (the flagship store) to pay my bill and try to find a couple of jackets for work. I hadn't thought to check my phone before leaving work -- hey, no one ever calls me -- and was therefore quite surprised to receive her call at 3:30. I would have thought she'd be getting ready for work.

With tears in her voice, she told me that she'd been driving down Warburton (an arterial) to Yonkers to get her nails done (there's a really cheap nail salon there) when a car turned off a side road right into her, side-swiping her car and pushing it to the side of the road.

If there'd been cars parked on the side of the road like there usually are, she'd have been a pancake. And if she hadn't seen the other car coming out of the corner of her eye and hit the brakes, all the damage would have been right at the driver side door where she was, instead of mainly at the front end. Which means she might have been more seriously hurt than she was.

People came running out of stores and buildings asking her if she was ok, but no one even questioned if the older man driving, or his son, were alright. So she had lots of witnesses that it was totally his fault, but she didn't need them. Although the older man said only two things -- 'what happened,' and 'I didn't see anything coming' -- his son was completely apologetic. He took control, gave rugrat all his personal and insurance info, and said to call him if she had any questions. He took full responsibility on behalf of his dad.

People asked if she needed to go to the hospital, or if she needed a tow truck, but she was in pain, in shock, and just wanted to go home. (She also wanted her mami, but of course I was nowhere to be found. Typical working mami, never there when you need her. Makes for some serious mami guilt, you know?) She drove the car home (despite the fact that it's pretty much undrivable) and took a nap, hoping the pain in her neck, back and shoulder would go away, but by the time she called me, she was still really hurting.

I ordered her to call a taxi and go to the local hospital (just two or three miles away, thankfully), and I jumped back on the subway/train home and took a taxi myself to meet her at the emergency room (thank goodness this happened before she went off my insurance rather than after). I arrived just after she'd been given a flexeril injection, and she was looking pretty darned pale (no small feat, being mexican and fairly brown). She is sore and on a muscle relaxant but should be just fine.

The car is undrivable, with most of the damage at the front driver's side. It'll need a tow to even get it to a repair shop, as the whole bumper and area around the tire is so mashed that it rubs against the tire. Thank goodness the guy who hit her has insurance, since we dropped our collision on the ten year old car last fall. It'll be a little difficult for her to be without the car while it's being repaired, because the bus doesn't run late enough to get her home from work at night. If the guy's insurance covers a rental, she may not be able to drive it, as NY has an age limit for rental car drivers. I'll have to check into it.

So tonight, for the first time in a long time, I'm at home on a friday night with company -- rugrat and her boyfriend. Of course, he's in the bedroom sleeping off cold meds, and she's on the sofa spaced out on muscle relaxers. But hey...we're all together now.

Todos juntos ahora...

All Together Now, the Beatles:

Updated Saturday at 10:30 am to add: I just called their insurance company and my own. Their company takes 48 hours for an adjuster to call me back. I have to wait for 48 hours, with no car, and that's not counting repair time. Rugrat can't get home from work without that car, which basically means she'll have to move into her boyfriend's place for a few days because he's on a bus route that will get her to/from work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I hear the ticking of the clock

I had planned a rant tonight about inconsiderate smokers. Had it completely written in my head on the way home. But it will have to wait for another day, because when I checked the mailbox as I walked in the door this evening, I pulled out the annual National Geographic Expeditions travel catalogue.

I love getting this catalogue every year. Or should I say, I love it and I hate it. Because it reminds me of everything I’m not. Everything I’ll never be. Never do.

If you’ve never seen the catalogue, I encourage you to check it out. The expeditions are incredible – you can, literally, go almost anywhere in the world – for a price. A price that will run you anywhere from $7,000 to $20,000. And then the piece de resistance – around the world by private jet. Three weeks, multiple locations, and a $57,000 price tag.

And then, in the back of the catalogue after the family adventure tours, I found the photography workshops. I’ve loved photography for years, but never been able to take a class or even buy a decent camera. Just recently I bought a better camera than I’ve ever had (through my Dell charge) and I’ve had some fun with photo-taking lately.

But I’m not daring enough to run around all over taking photos when something strikes me. I don’t like people staring…I don’t like calling attention to myself. And since I’m not a real photographer, I don’t feel as though I have the ‘authority’ (please tell me you understand my meaning here) to be snapping shots everywhere. And so every single day, the dozen shots I see in my mind never happen.

But two of the photo workshops will be right here in NYC, next year. I read the description and thought oh!, how lovely. I could do that. I could really do that. And then I looked at the bottom line…the price…$2,800. No, it won’t be happening anytime soon. I had that same thought a year ago, when I was online looking at summer residential programs at Oxford (yes, the one in the UK). It’s been a dream of mine for years, but the cost…well, you know.

But what I both love and hate the most about the NG catalogue are the little side boxes that introduce the ‘experts’ who will accompany each particular expedition. These are people who have traveled the world, lived in exotic locations for years, written for the NG extensively, or published numerous books. They are what I had always hoped to, but never will, be. Because I’ll be in an obscure teaching position in an urban community college, struggling to fulfill the obligations and requirements for tenure, unable to afford travel or study abroad.

Today I had an opportunity to talk briefly, but longer than previously, with my fellow junior faculty in my discipline, who has three years on me. She, and my faculty mentor, are pushing for us to do professional presentations (one this year), which are a requirement for tenure. There is also pressure to publish, naturally, despite the fact that we are a teaching college and have 5/4 teaching loads.

And of course, my first presentations and publications depend upon completing my dissertation, which has gone nowhere all summer as I struggled to pass my licensing exam and develop field placements for students. And now I have added in commitments to meet the ‘service to the college’ requirement – two separate committees, one as co-chair, each with multiple year commitments. I’ve also committed to another year-long faculty development training, this one in writing across the curriculum (WAC for you higher ed types), with a goal to creating a writing intensive course next fall.

And one has to be so careful about what you say and do every second of every day, until you get tenure. You never know who might be watching, and how influential they are or might be seven years down the road. And you’re always afraid of those pesky student evaluations, as I just learned that we are expected to receive scores within specific ranges. Go out of those ranges, and it looks bad, really bad.

So every day, you have to be ‘on.’ Always smiling, always positive, always busy, always forward thinking. And when I get home, when I want to talk to someone about the stress, or something that went well, there’s no one there. I go home alone, and there I stay alone until I go back to work the next day. Today was one of those high stress days when it all just got to me. And I wanted someone to share it with. Instead, I turned on the telly and ate food I didn’t need. Alone.

I just watched Without a Trace, a show I like and an episode I had missed. It’s the one where Samantha Spade goes into labor. She gets some underling to drive her to the hospital, where she notes all the other pregnant women who are with loved ones. But she checks herself in, and has her baby, all alone. Because she is all alone. And it struck me that I knew just how she felt. Because I did that alone, too. Twice.

And I’m still alone.

(photo mine...I'm on the local 1 platform, and that's the 2/3 express going by...and yes, the analogy is my life passing me by)

Heart -- Alone:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

nights in white satin

She puts herself out there, on occasion. Albeit cerebrally, and pseudo anonymously. With each third person word she writes, she exposes more and more of herself to the atmosphere, however hostile it may be. Subject to the stares, to the potential ridicule of others...all while keeping that deepest, inner core under wraps, tied tightly with the shiniest of satin ribbons.

And she leaves bits of herself hanging for a time, taking the occasional arrow intended to pierce the satin ribbon 'round that inner core. Yet somehow, the arrows never quite slide through the random cracks in the armour surrounding the ribbon. But when one comes too close, or she has put herself out there a bit further than she intended, self-preservation engages and she retreats.

The revelations are typically followed by fluff and filler. Nonsense, trite and simple. The deeper the revelation, the more inane -- bordering on insulting -- is what follows. Fodder for the masses, designed as a sleight of hand, like the proverbial magician. Nothing up her sleeve. Nothing at all. The nonsense proves that. Changes her back into the unnoticeable. The unnoticed. Unworthy of watching.

Once in a great while, she puts a little too much of herself out there, an unmoving target for whomever might be left to read. And then, swiftly, an arrow flies, hard, fast, deadly. And pricks the satin ribbon ever so slightly. And then she pulls herself back, back into herself, doubled over at the waist, hands around opposite arms in that age-old self-preservation gesture. Hide your heart, girl, Eli's coming.

And that is when she goes into hiding, hibernating, even sometimes -- if the piercing was quite deep -- pulling all evidence of her previous inner revelations in with her, leaving nary a crumb to sate others' appetites or encourage their baser impulses to attack when she is at her weakest.

Yet even in the sad, pathetic merry-go-round, there is this. That each time she hangs herself out to dry, she hangs a little further...a little further...a little further. Exposes her inner core, a millimeter more each time. Not exactly worthy of a big brass band or a heroes' parade, as she knows, as everyone knows...but there is that millimeter. Each time. There is that.

Eli's Coming...

Nights in White Satin...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

best. line. ever.

Salesclerk: Would you like to buy a facelift in a jar?

Annette Bening: This is my face, deal with it.

I have no idea if the movie is any good -- especially since it's a remake twice over already with classic stars -- but that line alone does it for me.

viva craig's list!

I blogged earlier about selling the elliptical machine and my LMSW study guides for car repairs, but I've been culling through stuff in anticipation of next spring's move, and popping things on to craig's list since then.

Little to big, the item doesn't matter if it nets me more than it would if I gave it to goodwill.

So, I've sold one of our bikes:

Two file cabinets:

Wireless network cards for a pc and laptop:

Oops, already deleted that photo.

The cell phone I bought before my hospital stay last year, which I never liked; I went back to my old phone. Doesn't matter that it's 6 years does everything I want. I got back almost what I'd paid for the phone after discounts and rebates.

And today, one of rugrat's Barron's study guides -- the SAT guide.

The difference between C.L. and ebay is no fees for advertising, and I can ask for cash and make them come pick it up -- no paypal charges, no getting things to the mailbox. And everything I make goes into a jar for the move.

Commencing countdown, engines on...destination NYC!

I found this on youtube -- it's the original 1969 video of the song:

Thursday, September 04, 2008

oh. my. god.

The big bad blogger doesn't comment on my blog anymore.

People hate me, they actually hate me.**

From two supposedly grown-up, adult, mature men.

Small wonder I'm still single, if this is the level of maturity -- or should I say immaturity -- found in men out there.

Dudes. Get over yourselves. It's just a fucking blog.

**Interestingly, I had actually said something nice about this guy before. How sad...

Friday, August 29, 2008

you better be good to me


I have been quite literally walking my feet near to death. I walk three or four days a week, from work to at least penn station, but often all the way to times square. The shorter route is 3.5 miles. On top of that, my caloric intake is steady at no more than 1,500/day, and fast food is no more than once per week.

And I'm killing my body in the process. I keep getting huge blisters on the bottoms of my feet (like completely covering the ball of my foot), blisters on top of blisters, and the skin keeps rubbing off my heels and the tops of my toes (of course I have good walking shoes, don't be ridiculous).

The pounding my feet take is so bad that by the time I get home, I can barely waddle around the apartment because I'm in such pain. My knees are only slightly better. As in it hurts to bend them and to straighten them.

Also, while my workouts in the past ended with me getting a second wind and feeling energized, my exercise now leaves me so nauseous that I fear I won't keep my lunch down.

And yet, every morning when I get on that scale, those same three motherfucking numbers stare up at me. For three. weeks. and. counting.

I can't do anything about the menopause, because I can't take hormones anymore (because of the blood clot). I'm hoping that after I meet with the endocrinologist later in September that I can get back on synthroid...maybe that will help a little.

But I keep fighting, keep walking, keep eating better. I keep telling myself that the weight doesn't matter as much as eating better. That blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure are more important than getting an actual waist back. Than fitting into the clothes I wore a mere six months ago. Than having a man actually look at me with desire.

I'm afraid my argument isn't convincing. At least, it's not convincing me.

Today's walking music courtesy of Tina herself:

Cooldown on the train by anonymous 4:

(this song is not from the cd, but it's the only one on youtube)

Did you catch the Balki-ism?

Just how did Tina get through menopause and come out looking like that, anyway?!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

everyday people

There is a post office at the corner of Varick and King in the city. Every day that I exercise walk from work to penn station, I see a man standing at the entrance. He holds the door open for those entering and exiting, shaking a styrofoam cup of change in his hand. He is pleasant and smiling always, with a have a good day on his lips whether the passerby drops change in his cup or not. Tall and thin, dark brown skin, greying short black curly hair.

Since he's been there every odd day I've walked by, I assume he makes a daily routine of this. I wonder he unemployed, is he a minimum wager trying to pick up a little extra ('cause we all know you can't pay the rent on m.w. in nyc)? How much does he actually pull in with his little gig? Apparently enough to make it worth his time.

I don't believe he is homeless, though, unless that's a fairly new condition for him -- he doesn't have the leathery skin and cracked hands that people have when they are subjected to the elements 24/7/365.


I walked a little extra today, going to times square instead of stopping at penn station. I moved toward a seat between two people and some bitch actually scooted over to take up two seats so that I couldn't sit there. I stood there long enough to give her the evil eye -- not that she would actually meet my eyes, she wasn't stupid enough for that -- then took a spot on the end next to a door.


Later I noticed a guy standing (there were no seats available) with three large trays, and one smaller tray, of deli sandwiches stacked on top of each other. He held them with one hand, over his shoulder, using his shoulder to help carry the weight. Delivery, perhaps?

Then I noticed the other guy with him, a big sack of packaged food items on the floor between his feet (typical for people carrying things on the subway). They were both wearing business caps, and I tried to look without seeming to look.

Mendy's. Must have been the one on 34th street. Making a delivery. On the subway. Looked like someone was having a party. They got off at 79th or 86th, I wasn't watching that closely. So someone uptown had Mendy's tonight. 'Cause Mendy's delivers. On the subway.

Sly and the Family Stone: