Friday, March 28, 2008

upping the ante

So the virus that has made his permanent home in my lungs and sinuses for a week now has apparently decided he needed a summer condo on the beach...better known as my intestinal tract. But he seems to have left some friends hanging at home, while he visited the summer home.

Imagine, if you will, standing in front of a class of 30 students, throat raw, frequent coughing, nose still in that nasal sound and peeling skin phase, a mild headache, nausea, and a bit of disequilibrium that makes it feel like 'the earth moves under my feet.'

Imagine feeling that way and having to teach for 2 hours and 45 minutes straight. The subject matter? Social insurance programs and policies.

And you spent 3 hours in a hot, airless office prepping for class beforehand.

And you have a commute home on nausea-inducing public transportation.

With a stop off at Target to pick up some serious necessities.

You should try it some time.

No, seriously...give it a try.

I double-dog-dare-you.

I now get to read reflections papers that two of my professional social work skills development classes wrote about the movie Nell and how it relates to our classwork.

Then I get to make yet more edits to my dissertation proposal, thanks to my ever-lovin' committee chair. The proposal defense is firm now, and has been 'advertised' to the student and faculty population of the school of social work. Did I not mention it was open for people outside the committee to attend? Yeah. It is. But no pressure.

Then when those edits are done, I get to finish creating the 20 minute powerpoint presentation that I will give at the beginning of my defense, just before the question and answer period.

So, I will remain perpetually behind on comment and email responses. Sorry folks.

And I am off now to make myself some more cream of wheat cereal...which is about all I can handle right now.

And I wonder...with the virus' permanent homes and his summer residence, what the fuck will I do if he decides he really really wants a winter ski lodge getaway?

Monday, March 24, 2008

and the universe said...

Let's give her a new job, complete with regular evaluations and multiple hoops to jump through for tenure.

Let's give her a dissertation to complete, with unending rewrites and a 20 minute powerpoint presentation to prepare for the actual defense, and a fourth, outside reader who isn't available for defense day which results in rescheduling the previously scheduled defense and means that now five faculty must come up with a mutual defense date that doesn't interfere with anyone's teaching schedule.

Let's give her a rugrat who is in a serious case of senioritis and is in danger of not graduating due to attendance.

Let's give her just enough salary to make said rugrat completely ineligible for federal Pell grants for college despite not even tipping the scale at $50,000 annually in New York.

But that's not all.

No, that's not all.

Let's give her the flu, and start with chest congestion so thick that she'll feel like she's vomiting when trying to cough it out to avoid potential pneumonia setting in, and a throat so raw that each cough becomes excruciating, and then add in sinuses so full that even her gums and teeth ache, and let's give it to her on a holiday when she's supposed to be grading papers and working on her MFD but can't stay awake with the meds long enough to get anything meaningful done.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Our work here is done.

(photo mine, lunar eclipse)

driving while dunking

Driver blames speeding on bad Oreo dunk

Police say a man's excuse for speeding through a small Connecticut town takes the cake — or, at least, the cookie.

A state trooper who stopped the 1993 BMW last fall says its driver, 28-year-old Justin Vonkummer of Millerton, N.Y., blamed his driving problems on an errant Oreo.

Vonkummer told the trooper that an Oreo had just slipped from his fingers as he dunked it in a cup of milk, and that he was trying to fish it out when he lost control of his car.

Prosecutors learned in court this week that Vonkummer had been charged with speeding and driving under a suspended license — not driving under the influence, as a clerk had mistakenly noted in the court records.

Vonkummer's attorney declined to comment. The case is pending.

(photo googled)

Sunday, March 23, 2008


The rugrat had a friend spend the night last night and I heard them talking about easter:

Friend: What is easter anyway? I mean, what's it for?
RR: It's when jesus was born, or when he died, I can't remember which.
Friend: Oh. I thought it had something to do with bunnies.

15 cadbury eggs in 15 minutes...I could've easily beat this dude, hands down, two to one:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

closer to fine

So guess where the rugrat and I are going, courtesy of rugrat numero uno...

We're going to see this:

True Colors featuring Cyndi Lauper, The B-52s, Rosie O'Donnell, Indigo Girls, The Cliks, and host Carson Kressley.

The older rugrat sent us -- for Christmas -- two lawn tickets to any live nation concert in our area and told us we had to pick something and go together. Not an easy feat, to pick something we'll both enjoy. I mean, the kid's 17 and likes reggae ton for god's sake. But we think this will do.

The concert is June 1, at Jones Beach. Yep, Jones Beach.

Sure, it's lawn seats.

And we probably won't be able to see much.

But I don't fucking care.

I'm already excited.

Closer to Fine - Indigo Girls

I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
Its only life after all

Well darkness has a hunger thats insatiable
And lightness has a call thats hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Theres more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a b-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Theres more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
And I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as Id been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
Yeah we go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
We look to the children, we drink from the fountains
Yeah we go to the bible, we go through the workout
We read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine

(if k is still reading, she'll appreciate this)

my, my, my, what a beautiful day!

Yesterday was one of those kinds of days that drives me to eat. It would drive me to drink, or drugs, or smoke, if I did those kinds of things. But it drove me to eat. And shop.

Call from rugrat about 8:30 am, just before subway goes underground and I lose the signal
--Mami, the car quit, just stopped running. Said between sniffles and tears.
--Is it off the road?
--OK, call AAA, and have them tow it to the auto shop by home. Said with all kinds of love and urgency before the subway tunnel cut us off.

Call from rugrat, miraculously while above ground at 125th
--Mami, AAA says you didn't renew, so they won't come. Said with same tears but more despair.
--Sorry baby, as soon as I get to the office I'll call them and take care of it and call you back. I love you. Not sure if that part got through before the call was dropped as the subway went back underground for a long subway ride during which all I could think about was all the things that could happen to a young girl/woman stranded on the side of the road and felt guilty for trying to wait for the state income tax return to pay the AAA bill.

Call to AAA to renew policy; it was due the 28th, they have a 10 day grace period, this was March 14.
--I need to pay over the phone so that the payment shows right away; my child is stuck on the side of the road near White Plains. Said urgently, knowing the rugrat is waiting.
--It's all in place, but you only have 3 miles of free towing. Even though you paid for the extra service including unlimited towing, you have a 10 day waiting period before it kicks in because you let the account lapse and you're way over the 10 day grace period. Anything over 3 miles is $3.50 per mile.
--You have got to be kidding. Said in an angry and frustrated tone, by the mom that knows that her rugrat has no cash with her.
--Said in her mind: I pay double the rate for the extra towing, but I can't get the extra towing for 10 days? And four days is 'way over' the grace period? Nah, this isn't fucked up at all.

Call to rugrat to let her know AAA is good.
--Call AAA now sweetie, they'll come. Do you have your debit card to pay for the tow truck? Call me when it gets there.

Call from rugrat; at this point, she's been on the side of the road for more than two hours.
--Tow truck's here mami. Said with a solid voice and no more tears.
--OK sweetie, call me when you get home.

Call from rugrat.
--I'm home finally home mami. The mechanic paid the $18 for the tow truck and then put it on the bill, 'cause the tow truck doesn't take credit cards.
--Said to self: jesus h christ, what would she have done if they'd taken her to an unknown mechanic?

Call from rugrat.
--The mechanic called. Said in a hesitant voice that says this is going to be a pocketbook hit. It's the alternator. And he said the alternator for our car is more expensive than usual. He said it would be about $325.
--OK, call them back and tell them to go ahead, and ask them if it will be ready today. Otherwise, we have to figure out how you'll get to and from work over the weekend.

I finish my workshop and head to the bank to cash a paycheck for a previous workshop attendance that for some strange reason the employer didn't direct deposit so that I can pay for the damned alternator.
--I'd like to cash this please.
--Do you have an account here?
--You have to have an account here. We deposit the check in your account and you have to wait until the check clears.
--But I need the money right now. That's why I didn't go to my bank. This check was written on your bank. It's your check, how can you not honor it?
--As I said ma'am, you need to have an account here in order to cash this check. Said in a smug, condescending voice with accompanying down-her-nose look.

Wipe that look off your face right now, you supercilious (god I love that word) bitch, I thought. I am not white trash just because I need money asap. Fuck, it isn't as though the city of new york would write a bad check for a lousy $217 big ones.

I should stand there and raise a major ruckus, I thought. Yell loudly enough to attract the attention of all the customers. Throw a few things, slam a few doors. But I don't. Because that isn't acceptable behavior in public, now is it.

I know why some people just go off and lose control publicly though, blowing people away right and left. I really do. The only thing that separates them from me is the thinnest bit of thread connecting me to sanity. If that thread, which vibrates and hums often, and is downright singing at the moment, were to suddenly snap and sever my hold on reality...I'd take as many of those smug bitches and fuckers out as I could before the cops brought me down. I really would.

The subway ride home mid-day meant masses of teens, cramming onto already full cars and yelling to each other across them, giving a whole new meaning to the word cacophony.

Then there was the young woman who looked hung over at the train station, at the machine trying to buy a ticket north and falling 50 cents short and begging for two quarters.

That cigarette hanging out of your mouth and blowing right into my lungs probably cost you two quarters. Maybe you should have thought of that, said the my mind of course. What I did publicly was fish two quarters out of my wallet for her.

The car was done an hour after I arrived home. Since I couldn't cash that paycheck, spent a half hour online checking the open credit of various credit cards. The mechanic accepted $100 cash, put $100 on my visa, and $163.20 on my mastercard.

And of course all I could think about at that point was handling the stress the way I usually do: with food and spending more money. Which led to dinner at IHOP and some coupon shopping at Macy's and Lane Bryant, where I have credit cards.

As if I need more debt. Sometime I wish I had a less expensive way of dealing with stress.

(photo mine, world trade center site, nyc)
(title, Colin Hay song)

Monday, March 10, 2008

if you don't know me by now, you will never, never, never know me

And today was my teaching observation. Did I mention that my observer was the department chair? And she's on the promotion and tenure committee? No stress there, no stress at all.

It's the strangest, most surreal feeling to be standing in front of class, teaching away, and wondering what that person is thinking about little things you say or do. What did you forget to say, what did you say that you shouldn't have said, what did you say incorrectly? What they are writing when they take notes constantly? I don't know how I did, and won't find out until she writes up the results and meets with me to go over them. I do know I was very nervous, and I'm certain it showed.

And that on top of the MFD proposal had left me pretty much sleepless for days. So after work, after the observation, I hopped on the subway to head home, put the very best of simply red on the zen, and promptly fell asleep. I mean hard asleep, as in mouth open, and waking up wondering if I'd possibly been snoring. And briefly peeking out the window to check the street stop, then falling back asleep. In and out of sleep I went for the entire 45 minute ride to the train.

And then home, where I had two bowls of cocoa krispies for dinner. I'd be a happy camper if I could eat cocoa krispies for dinner every day.

If I said I was utterly exhausted, would it sound like I was whining? 'Cause I really am trying not to. Whine that is. But I am exhausted.

I fucking love simply red. And this is one of my all-time fav songs.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

taking a deep breath and clicking the send button

It's 12:40 am, and I've just submitted the final draft of my dissertation proposal to my committee.

I defend it on April 7.

I can't sleep.

Tomorrow I'm celebrating with some shopping and a movie.

I'm so fucking scared I can't hardly see straight.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll stand on the bow
And feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me

Have I mentioned how often I wish that I had someone to tell all this stuff to so I didn’t have to write it all out and stick it online in the hopes that it reaches someone, somewhere in the darkest recesses of cyberspace therefore proving that I’m not really alone in this vast, cold, dark universe.

But then maybe I was meant to be alone and lonely so that I would be forced to put my thoughts into words because maybe fate means for my kids to find all this stuff sometime after I’m dead and gone and have it all published posthumously and it funds everything they ever wanted in their lives that I couldn’t do for them when I was alive. And then everyone says how lucky it was that I was alone and lonely and forced to put it all down in the fucking computer void because otherwise they wouldn’t have had the chance to read such deeply profound shit.

Yeah, I know. Sometimes I’m so full of shit that I make myself want to barf. Hey, wait a minute...I could lose a lot of weight by making myself blow chunks. for thought.

And you said,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my own footsteps once again

I’m discovering that I can keep the big M downward spiral at bay when I’m at work and keeping myself completely occupied, mind and body. But as soon as I’m on the train on the way home, it creeps back in. For lack of any ability to truly describe the feeling, I’m calling it a cross between melancholy and ennui. And it really does permeate everything. I couldn’t even interest myself in more than a glance at my mystery man this evening, for example. Maybe things will get a little bit better if I finish the MFD draft this Friday and once my teaching observation is completed on Monday.

A girl can hope, anyway.

And you say, "Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin"
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine
There's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It's just that times are lean

Know what’s getting me through all this? My fucking awesome students. They make it all worthwhile. In the class in which I’ll be observed, I’ve let the students know about the observation, and they are full of questions about how they can help to make me shine for the observer. Can you believe it? They could easily act up just a little bit and make me look like a loser, but they can’t wait to make me look good.

In all my classes the majority of the students are about as cool as it gets. In the intro class, I mentioned to the students that I wanted to get some guest speakers who are social workers currently in the field to come and talk about their area of work and how they got into social work. One of the students knows a perfect speaker, and he approached me to see if it would be alright to speak to the social worker. I was thrilled that he was getting involved to that degree and gave him the green light, and now we have another totally awesome speaker coming in.

Damn, I am so fucking thankful that I found where I belong in the work world. And such great place at which to teach.

Ok, well, that and the root beer float I’m devouring at the moment. Let’s just hope I don’t barf it up later.

And you say,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

On a clear day
I can see, see for a long way

(song, lyrics, Colin Hay; some interpret this as meaning death, others love…I interpret it as my life having been on hold, and now it’s beginning, and it’s incredible)
(all puns fully intended)
(photo mine, skyline drive virginia)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

rhapsody in blue

Blue, blue, blue fucking blue



Why now, why now?

I've managed this big M so far without the fucking hormonal down-low mood swings, so why now?

What plagued me this weekend is still there today. I try so hard to pull myself out of it, I really am trying. But all I can do is lay on the damned sofa, throat all tight, tears in my eyes, and focus on everything that is bad, bad, bad in my life.

Every so often I get up and come to the computer and read a little bit, then I'm exhausted and it's back to the sofa. With food, food, and more food. Which isn't helping the struggle against extra pounds and only makes me feel even worse about myself.

And before anyone says hormone therapy, I can't take estrogen. It makes me quite ill, gives me severe paranoia and anxiety attacks. So I guess it's either shaky hands and paranoia, or can't-get-off-the-sofa depression. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground here.

And no work on the MFD again today. And it's due on Friday to the committee. I don't know what the fuck I'm going to do. There are no more excuses, no more's do or die time. And right now I don't know which way I'm headed.

(photo mine, the elizabeth seton shrine in nyc from the staten island ferry; I feel like that teeny tiny little shrine, surrounded by insurmountable buildings)

Monday, March 03, 2008

hello sunshine!

So yesterday, I finally discovered just how fucking serious menopause can be. I finally experienced a down low swing that brought me so far down that I laid around the house, eyes and throat swimming in, choked by, tears, most of the day. I couldn't find my way up enough to get any work done -- not even the damned MFD.

I know, I know, I keep saying that I can take anything menopause throws at me, as long as I don't lose my freakin' sex drive. But yesterday, I wondered -- even if oh, so briefly -- if I could stand up to that claim. I could only hope that the down swing wouldn't last.

Despite more insomnia as well (thanks for that too, big M), I made it through my first two classes today. Went down to the cafeteria about 2 pm to grab some lunch, and it was so busy I decided to run down the block and get some really-bad-for-me taco bell. I stepped outside, and it hit me.

The sunshine, that is. It was fucking incredible, blue sky, bright sun, and I was out there without my coat and it was balmy, I tell you, balmy! Instant mood lifter, that sun is.

And it brought to mind a bunch of songs about sunshine, which I can't get out of my mind now and so which of course I'm going to share with you so the tunes can drive you nuts as well. I mean, what kind of friend would I be not to share my insanity around?

Good Day Sunshine:

Here Comes the Sun:

And the same by Nina Simone:

Sunshine on my Shoulder:

Sunshine go Away Today:

Soak up the Sun:

Ain't no Sunshine:

Island in the Sun:

Island of the Sun:

Ummm...what am I missing?