Thursday, February 28, 2008

the way we were

The young man followed me to my office to get a copy of the course syllabus. He'd been in my class last semester as well, so there was a comfort level there that is only present when you 'know' a student a bit better.

He was confident in his looks, having done a bit of local modeling. A sort of all-over short dread lock thing going on, smooth, medium brown skin, nice eyes. And he used his looks to flirt with the female professors and talk his way into or out of what suited his needs. Didn't get a paper finished? He'd manage to get an extension.

And no, it didn't work with me. I would allow his flirtation and was gentle with his ego, but work must be turned in on time in my class.

While I was busy finding the syllabus on my computer and printing a copy, he looked at the photos on display next to my desk.

Is this your daughter? he asked.
Yes, and her boyfriend.
She looks like you. She's darker, but her face looks like you.

Oh, is that you? said with surprise.
Yes, that's my high school graduation photo.
Wow, you were really hot.
Yeah, but then we all get old
, I laughed.
He laughed with me.

(yes, that's the photo)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

a smile is the new black

Students in one of my classes today told me they liked seeing me walk in the door because I always have a smile on my face.

Finally...something that looks maaaahvelous on me dahling!

(photo mine, lunar eclipse)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I wanna be a tigger, not an eeyore

So I have had a couple of frantic weeks, and it won't end quickly. But after watching this, I'm trying to look at the positives.

Dissertation positives:

--The meeting went well and they didn't criticize my work
--I now have the third committee person for the committee
--I have a date set for the proposal defense - April 7
--I'm starting to make headway on the statistics program being used to do the analysis
--I have a deadline for completion of the proposal - March 7
--I only have two weekends left to work on the proposal and then I get a break for a couple of weeks while they read...I'll breath then
--As terrified as I am of the defense, I think I might stand an outside chance of passing

Current faculty development workshop positives:

--I wound up not having to do a formal presentation
--My work garnered positive comments all around
--I have the go ahead to make full use of the assignments in my class
--I think that the facilitators (and other attendees) have collegial respect for my efforts

Potential faculty development workshop that included videotaping:

--It looks like I may not be be able to do this one since I'm already in a workshop with a stipend attached -- pressure gone (I hope)

Other positives:

--I've finished the workshop series on using Blackboard and they were very helpful
--My students are fucking awesome
--I've completed and submitted my income tax returns
--I've written a few letters of recommendation for others
--I made it to the gym twice last week
--I finally got to bogo for my birthday

The stresses are still there, including my semester observation-evaluation, which will be done by the department chair this semester. But I'm trying to just take it one day at a time.

The most wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

insomnia leads to all sorts of things

So here I am, up at 2:24 am, unable to sleep. I flipped to "E" and caught an SNL tribute to Chris Farley, and there was that high-larious lunch lady skit.

I searched youtube and found a video, but it's not the one from SNL. Anyway, figured I'd share my insomnia with whomever is left out here in the tumbleweeds.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

and the conversation went a little something like this...

The young 20-ish man looked as though he would walk by her sitting on the bench waiting for the train, but he stopped.

Him: Excuse me, but can you spare a homeless person some money for dinner. I'm hungry.
Her: I'm sorry, I haven't anything. And it was the truth. She hadn't been to the bank.

Him: You sure? Not even some change?
Her: No, nothing. Because she also didn't typically hand money over to panhandlers.

Him, sitting down and lighting up a cigarette: Are you ok?
Her, coughing and gagging and making liberal use of an inhaler: I will be. Just a bit of asthma. She'd learned her lesson this time about running for trains in extreme cold. Did her in every time.

Him, motioning to the cig: Oh, is this bothering you?
Her: Well, the smoke is blowing away from me so it's ok for now. What kind of a moron lights up a cig right next to a woman gasping for breath and holding an inhaler, anyway?

Him: So where do you live?
Her, motioning with her thumb in the direction of the train: That way. Yeah right, like I'm gonna tell you where I live.

Him: So you work in the city?
Her: nods head
Him: Where? And where do you live?
Her: I live a couple of stations away, and I work downtown. I'm not telling you where I live, for fuck's sake.

Him: You have beautiful eyes.
Her: Thank you. Yet again, someone uses my eyes because they want something.

Him: Where are you from? Are you from Germany?
Her: No, I'm not.
Him: I had a girlfriend with blue eyes once.
Her: says nothing. My eyes are green, dude.
Him: Where are you from? Norway?
Her: I have no idea.
Him: I always think of people with red hair being from Norway or some place like that.
Her: says nothing. Norway??? Norway??? What about Ireland, dumbo.

Him: I can't believe I didn't do any drugs today and somehow I still wound up broke.
Her: looks at him and smiles. Wait a minute, you do drugs and you're asking me for money???

Him: I had 8 bucks on me, and I only ate chinese food. I think that guy at the chinese restaurant ripped me off.
Her: looks at him and smiles. Wait a minute, you ate? And fucking Chinese food? And you're asking me for money! Know what I ate today? A little salad. And some orange slices. And I went to the fucking gym and worked off 400 calories. I'm so hungry my hands are shaky. And you're asking me for money for food?!

Him: Well, I think I'll go wait inside, it's cold out here.
Her: looks at him and smiles.

One day, my inner dialogue will come forth in an explosion. God help the person on the receiving end when it happens.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saturday, February 09, 2008

did I ever mention...

That I have a nephew who did some time in Iraq?

He's an interesting kid, mid-20's. Divorced with a little one. Short and skinny. Goofy and gangly. A bit of attention deficit going on. And just a tad bit slow on the uptake, but not really noticeable unless it's detail stuff.

He signed on 'cause they'd promised him he could go to school to learn auto mechanics and work in
the mechanic pool while there. He wanted to work on tanks and helicopters. But once he signed on, they sent him over on active duty. Where he rode in a tank instead of fixing them. And he did see battle.

He came back home about a year ago and had multiple problems. Couldn't keep a job, couldn't focus, and I think there was some drug use, which hadn't been a problem for him prior. It was clearly PTSD, but he was getting no help from vet's services.

He was on a few wait lists, but his name hadn't come up yet when he blew it all to hell and robbed some guy, breaking and entering his home, and stealing a gun along with money, which made the charges even worse. He was sentenced to 7 years in the toughest state pen in Washington State.

And believe it or not, that's when he got lucky. 'Cause he was assigned to a mental health professional while there. And the counselor not only is helping him through the PTSD, and has him on medication, but she's even managed to get the sentences for some of the charges reduced to time already served, which reduced his total sentence by half. And he'll be transerred to a less horrible facility closer to home soon, too, so that family can visit.

Some of his stories are finally coming out with therapy, too, and he's posting them on his my sp*ce account occasionally. Like his first action. They were fighting, in a town, and came running around a corner and right into a group of 'the enemy.' It was kill or be killed, and he froze. But he didn't freeze before shooting. No, he hit the trigger and then freaked, unloading his gun into the guy in front of him and still pulling the trigger when the gun was empty.

It was so bad, he said, that he did something stupid to get himself a dishonorable discharge while he was back in the states. They wouldn't let him out, were going to send him back again, and there was no way, he said, he'd go back. Neither he nor anyone else is talking about what he did. And I'm not about to judge him.

The rugrat keeps tabs on him, and sends him an occasional card or letter. He was such a sweet, goofy kid when I left Washington ten years ago. I just can't picture the him-here-and-now in my mind.

(photo is the inside ceiling of the Capital building dome, taken in august 2004)

Monday, February 04, 2008

do i hafta?

Email from student, sent Tuesday at 5:30 pm, the day before the second class session for the semester:

Hello professor [firstname], my name is ***, i have your hum 101 classes on mon and weds. The book professions of social work is sold out, and i kno i am supposed to read the first chpt by tomorrow. I was wondering if i can make a few copies from your book, if necessary or you can email it back to this email address. Thank you, *** :-)!

My response:


It's 11:00 am on Wednesday, I just went down to the bookstore, and there are still 7 copies of the textbook on the shelf.

Professor [lastname]

The next day, at the end of class said student approaches me and the conversation goes like this:

STU: Hi, I'm ***.
ME: Did you get my response? There are texts downstairs in the book store.
STU: Yes, I bought it before class. But I have a question.
ME: Yes?
STU: Do I have to read the first chapter?
ME: You mean the chapter you were supposed to read for today?
STU: Yes, do I still have to read it?
ME: Does it say so in the syllabus?
STU: I guess so. But it's so long.
ME: It's not a particularly long chapter.
STU: Yes, it's really long.
ME: Well if you don't read it, I can guarantee you'll have problems answering the quiz questions from that chapter.
STU: Oh. OK.

4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days

I caught this movie over the weekend through on demand. Apparently the IFC movies are available on demand as soon as they are released in the theatres, so I didn't have to wait till the end of a theatre run to catch it.

A chilling look at what life would be like here if women did not have reproductive rights. And I'm not just talking about abortion, I'm talking about birth control.

Friday, February 01, 2008

sometimes warm and dry is all you need. well, almost...

It rained buckets today. And I hadn't expected it to be so wet, so of course I was wearing totally the wrong coat. Not my water-resistant raincoat. No, not with my luck. I wore my down-filled coat today 'cause it was a bit cold this morning.

Did I mention that not all winter coats are water-resistant? Especially in consistent downpours.

I didn't have classes today, but went into the office anyway to prep for next week's classes. I'm finding that teaching my courses the second time is leaving me time to do more prep and find opportunities to teach with things like group activities, so that I don't fall back on lecture like I wound up doing way too much of last semester. I'm actually having 'fun' looking for meaningful activities that will bring home the lesson from the text in a way that lecture just doesn't.

So I arrived at work soaking wet after a train ride that began at 9 am, with bags of groceries in hand. I spent a half-hour at the grocery next to the office to buy stuff so I wouldn't be tempted to hit the taco bell and mickie d's next week. I actually bought things like salad and fresh fruit and kashi cereal.

Today I ate some chicken salad, and a container of cantaloupe, honeydew, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple. It was probably enough for three or four servings of fruit, but as I snacked while I worked, I kept telling myself that a spicy chicken crunchwrap would have been so much worse for me than a quadruple portion of fresh fruit.

I eventually dried off -- which was helped by the fact that our office has no ventilation and is so overly warm that I plan to buy a desk fan pronto -- and put in a full day's work. And walked outside at 6 pm to an even worse downpour. I was drenched just getting the two blocks to the subway. The rain soaked through my coat and the sweater top underneath, and splashed up my legs to my knees.

I was wet to my skin, clothes sticking to me, and the weight of the water in my pant legs began to ever-so-slightly pull the waistband of my pants lower. So when I got off the subway at marble hill, I would slosh a few steps and tug at my trousers. And coming down the subway stairs (it's elevated at that spot) the covered stairs had a flaw at the end that caused all the rain to come down over the stairs from the roof like a waterfall that we all had to walk through to get to the sidewalk.

I had promised the rugrat I would stop at target after work to pick up a cable tv wire, as the one linking her telly to cable wasn't working. She can't sleep without the tv on low, and with hers not working, she's been sleeping in the living room for three nights now. A promise is a promise. And I didn't want to wake up again tomorrow to her on my sofa.

So I sloshed through the downpour for two more blocks to target and picked up her cable and an alarm clock. 'Cause hers stopped working and she's been using her cell phone to try to get up to in the AM.

As I hit the checkout, I noticed a certain something that I thought I would need when I got home and added it to the pile. And then I noticed the snack bar. And the personal pan pizza. Hot and steamy. And I thought, boy will that hit the spot when I get home. So I bought one and wrapped it well in plastic bags to keep it from getting soggy in the rain. And then went back out into the downpour one more time to catch the train the rest of the way home.

I sat in the seat making a nice puddle on the floor, and all I could think about was getting home and getting dry. Ever notice how much longer a trip takes when you want to be there worse than just about anything?

When I got up at my stop, I left the seat visibly wet as well. Oh well. I had a three-block walk home, so who cares about the seat.

The cold air hit me as I stepped off the train. It wasn't raining so hard here, just sprinkling. But it was colder. Lots colder. Cold enough to see my breath. How different the weather can be in just 7 short train stops.

So now, I was wet to my skin, and the cold set in. As did shivers. I really began to get grumbly at that point. The wet was one thing, but wet and then cold...damn. At least it was just a few blocks. I carried my bag carefully so that the pizza wouldn't tip and the toppings and cheese slide off.

Home at last! After dodging ankle deep puddles on the apartment walkway, I pulled the key from my pocket, where I'd had the foresight to put it while on the train so I wouldn't have to fumble for it in my handbag standing at the front door in the dark. 'Cause the porch light hasn't worked since we moved in 10 years ago. But the landlord has 'fixed' it twice.

Up the stairs to my room, where I strip off everything carefully, as it's stuck to my skin. The only thing that gets hung up is my coat. The rest is still in a pile on my bedroom floor. I'll worry about it later.

I dry my skin and throw on wonderfully dry clothes, heat my little pizza, curl up on the sofa with a comforter and portable heater, open the bottle of soda I picked up, and then...the highlight of the evening...the dove chocolate bar.

Although I'm warmer, I'm still not there. I'll be sleeping with my heated mattress pad on tonight for sure. But at least the day is over. Sometimes it is so damned good to be home.