Tuesday, December 22, 2009

it's a long way down the holiday road

Three courses down (final grades submitted to registrar) and one to go. I'll read most of the material tonight, but I'll have to run into the office tomorrow afternoon to pick up a few last-minute submissions in that class.

Then some cleaning around the apartment, laundry, and packing tomorrow night, and on the train Thursday AM for Florida. All I can say is the sun had better shine, shine, shine while I'm there. I might also get a chance to touch base with friend Pooh, who moved back down there the first of the year.

I've railroaded myself into a corner though, in terms of vacation time. I jumped at the chance to serve again as a peer reviewer for the Corporation for National and Community Service grant cycle. I have nine -- yes, nine -- grants to review and complete an individual reviewer sheet with my notes. The grants are shorter than typical, as these are additional, short-term grant projects, but I have to have the reading and reviews done by the first of January.

This means that I either read them all in a marathon session on the train -- which was supposed to be my relax and catch up on sleep time -- or do a couple each evening while in Florida, after fun in the sun.

Either way, I did it to myself. Why? Two reasons. First, I'm not one to turn down a $700 stipend for work I usually find enjoyable. Second, I'm always concerned that I'm not doing enough for tenure, and this looks good under professional activities.

Back to reading/grading for now. And probably some Ben and Jerry's.

photo mine, a typical stack of student papers on any given weekend

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

when the working day is done

I have

--two more finals to give,
--four sets of final exams to grade,
--one more set of final papers to grade,
--an all-day conference on human trafficking,
--prep/orientation for CNCS grant proposal peer reviews,
--grades/attendance to submit for four classes,
--a department holiday party,
--a another office holiday party,
--a little christmas shopping, and
--at least six individual student meetings

all by the 23rd.

The $64,000 question is will I be physically capable of taking that vacation on the 24th.

'Cause I really just wanna have fun!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I think it's funny as hell

That Oprah, Obama, and Michelle colour-coordinated their outfits for the big interview.

And Obama is still damn nice on the eyes. Yep.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

shameless product plugging

I don't have to go to the local laundromat weekly, thanks to a couple of handy-dandy products. It's a bit of a hassle to find a time to go that fits my schedule, is when they are open (they close early evening), and when they aren't horribly overcrowded.

So now I wash my clothes with this little item:

I can fit a work week of blouses in one load, two pair of slacks in another, etc. I do a half-dozen small loads, and my work clothes are done. Put them in, fill with H2O from the bathtub faucet, agitate for 5 - 6 minutes, pour out wash water, fill with rinse water, add fabric softener, agitate again, pour out water.

Then I put the load into this lovely little helper:

This thing spins clothes much dryer than the laundromat washer manages to do. After this, I hang the clothes up and they are dry in a couple of hours max. Between the two, I only have to go to the laundromat once a month or so to do towels and sheets. Everything else can be done at home in the evenings. It works very well to do the laundry while cleaning the apartment -- I intersperse dishes, vacuuming, dusting with loads of clothes, and it breaks up the monotony of doing one thing for too long.

And if I need something to dry more quickly, I have this:

It hangs over the door and funnels hot air into an enclosed square of fabric. Today I washed a sweatshirt-type hoody, and I used this to dry it so that it would still be soft, not slightly stiff like some heavier fabrics come out when hung dry. It only took about 45 minutes to dry it completely.

It sure beats packing all my stuff into a wheeled cart, dragging it to the laundromat, and fighting for available washers and dryers.

Monkeys made of gingerbread and sugar horses painted red

As any professor will tell you, the week before finals is not-so-affectionately called 'dead week' for a reason. Zombie madness. The brain is mush. Excuses and begging abound as students realize the end of the semester is here. Tempers are short as faculty field requests for leniency from students.

I was happy to have an evening off from the madness, thanks to a fellow blogger who shared a ticket to this event at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday this week. It was a lovely concert, and I had not been to Carnegie Hall yet, which added to the fun.

But the next morning, it was back to trying to finish reading final papers and create final exams and grade final exams and finish committee work and write letters of recommendation so that I can have an actual freaking vacation for the first time in years -- which of course is frying my brain.

My last final is on the 21st; as long as I have the other three classes done and grades input before that, I should be ok. I can complete the work related to that last course on the 22nd; wash clothes, clean the apt, and pack on the 23rd; and be off on the 24th.

But in addition to that, I am again serving as a peer reviewer for grant proposals to the Corporation for National and Community Service. They are running a special review for summer 2010 projects, and the review begins December 18. So there are conference calls to listen in to at the same time as finals.

And while I get to leave for an actual vacation to Florida on the 24th, I'll be taking probably five grant proposals with me to review over the week (I do have to pay for the darned vacay after all, and the peer review comes with a $700 stipend -- plus I enjoy doing something different from teaching that's still professional). When I get back the first week of January, the team I'm assigned to will do conference calls to come to a consensus on how to rate the proposals under our review.

There are also two all-day conferences, one on December 18 related to human trafficking at Safe Horizons, one on January 7 related to grant writing by the CUNY system.

One saving grace in all this is that for the first time in 30 years of single parenting, I won't have a kid in the house for the holidays -- which means I don't have to bother with holiday decorations. Whooo hooo!

And then hopefully, if it fits with their work schedules, I'll be able to fly to Washington State to see my son -- and for the first time, my new grandson. I really do hope that all works out.

And somehow in all this, I am supposed to get some work done on the MFD*. If you figure out how I can do that, please let me know -- I'm all ears.

I found this very early Bowie album, and love this song. I've been playing it fairly nonstop for days now (I have no idea why the hell there's a cat in the middle of this photo series).

photo mine, taken outside work 10-29-08

*MFD = mother fucking dissertation

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

betcha by golly wow

I uploaded some stylistics recently, and I've been listening today.

I have to be careful about what I post on facebook. I'm linked to work people, including a department chair who is very influential. So, no whining on FB...all smiles, good to go, yessiree bob. Pile it on, I can take it.

I am so fucking mindnumbingly brain dead that I might as well be a vegetable...in a coma. I'm so exhausted that my right eyelid has started twitching -- something that has happened only rarely since the encephalitis, and only when my body has given up the ghost.

I think I've lost all hope of finishing the MFD, which means I won't get tenure when the time comes. I just don't see a way clear to getting the thing done. That means I've got five more years after this one, and then my contract won't be renewed. How the fuck do other people finish their diss while teaching full time anyway?

This semester has been so bad that I'm actually beginning to question my career choice. Just a little bit, but still...the question is beginning to nag at the back of my mind. I still love the actual teaching, but the committee work and focus on research and writing, which I can't even begin to get to, have me spinning my wheels.

I just want it to be over. And yet I don't think it will ever really be over.