Certain musicians have a hold on you...they get you early in life, and then stay with you forever. Not in a bad way...just that something about their work resonates with you forever. And everyone has more than one. For me, the list includes:
Who's that last one, you ask? One of the most prolific Japanese anime and soundtrack composers and musicians ever.
The funny part is that I'm not an anime fan, per se. Quite literally 99.9% of it I couldn't give rat's patoot about (as my dad's family is fond of saying). Then again, that's true for most entertainment--I'm just not interested in most any of the story plots, acting, etc. The last time I consistently watched a scripted and acted television show? Um...it's been a while, although the latest BBC offering of Sherlock does have me completely hooked. Even this year's season of Archer I haven't kept up with, mostly because Mr OfLove is too tired to be awake and paying attention at 10pm--since it's a favorite of us both, it feels a bit like cheating if I watch it without him.
When I was in high school, Macross Plus came out--obviously first in Japan, but it quickly came over here to the US. The story hooked me completely: set in the future and potentially in an alternate universe, it combined Romeo and Juliet (but majorly higher on the maturity level) with beautiful animation of mecchas in flight, and all with the underlying themes of justice and social acceptance permeating throughout. Yep, teenager DoL was completely hooked...and the music. Wow...how do I describe it? It was created by Yoko Kanno, who then was just starting her career of creating music for entertainment, but more specifically for anime and certain video game titles. But the soundtrack for Macross Plus was jazzy, complex, with a definite techno application to jazz, and this is especially true since one of the 'characters' in the movie/series is Sharon Apple--a computer-generated singer, with the voice and stylistics of her 'producer', Myung Fang Lone. The entire soundtrack is not of one language, but technically four: Japanese, English, French, and Zendradi (the made-up language of main alien race in the story). I love it...and have never been able to shake it.
Fast forward many, many years, to when I met the now Mr OfLove. Being that he's half Japanese, it's practically genetic for him to latch onto anime, but in his case he became a complete anime nerd. If it's a choice between watching anime and anything else on the entertainment field...nope, anime every time. When he first learned about my general disdain for anime, but my love of Macross Plus, he took it upon himself to figure out what possible shows I would like. He's very selective and careful in his choices, and some of the ones he's shown me I have fallen for (Soul Eater being chief among them).
And then he tried Cowboy Bebop. Story...excellent. Combo of drama, comedy, action, and suspense. Set in the near future but in an alternate universe, the core characters are all bounty hunters with intriguing pasts. Some episodes are silly, others are freaky--even one that damn near gave me nightmares due to some horrific images. But overall, holy carp, really, really good. But even beyond the story line, what I love about Cowboy Bebop is the soundtrack. The opening theme is what I'm linking here...but the entire soundtrack is a combo of swing, funk, jazz, with very complex rhythms. My musical mind went into overdrive...I know this style! Sure enough, in the credits: Music by Yoko Kanno, she of Macross Plus. It was a signature sound that I just couldn't get...oh, and the band that performs the opening, The Seatbelts...that's Yoko Kanno's band, or one of them; she has a tendency to do a composition project, then form a band to play the music, even record it for sale...but rarely goes on tour with them. She prefers to stay in Japan, since she readily admits that, while she understands and speaks some English and French, she doesn't do it well. What a pity...I'd love to hear them live!
Side note: You know you're in a major drought when a minor weather system has the potential to dump a whopping .25 inches of rain, at max, in your area...and it's a major news story. Yikes...could someone send us some storms, real storms, please? Not just one or two...but a couple, then a break for a week, then a couple more...then another week-long break...continuously for 2 months? Then we *might* be ok for water 'round these parts.
Jeremy Clarkson...you dolt. You bleeping moron.
When the news spread, like wildfire, about the 'fracas' (why does that have to be in quotes, by the way? Everyone is doing that now.), I was amazed at the multitude of people who instantly came to Jezza's defense, regardless of any potential accusations or even rumors. After all, who cares if he supposedly assaulted another person...we want him back on tv!
The people around me couldn't care less about the accusations. Realistically, it was only myself, Mr. OfLove*, and 2 other friends who were sounding the call to caution. Everyone else--people who are educated, reasonable people who aren't normally prone to violence--was outraged. "Don't take away our show!" "Jeremy is innocent!" "It didn't happen!" "Jezza was provoked!" "He's the heart and soul of the program...you can't do this to us!"
Within days we heard a bunch of the supposed facts, which all turned out to be true. Jezza threw a temper tantrum, launching a verbal spew that rivaled that of a two-year old, although with considerably more cussing. There were fisticuffs. Once I heard just this part, I couldn't support Jeremy Clarkson, sign a petition to have him reinstated, or even publicly come to his aid. There were more details to come, and somehow I knew it wasn't pretty.
It's been interesting to watch Richard Hammond and, especially, James May on their Twitter feeds. James' #StillUnemployed (or sometimes truncated to #SU) has risen in me some doubts. As to whether they continue on the show, or they pull out in support of their colleague, I think no one knows right now. Their contracts are up this year, too; BBC may want to take things in a whole other direction. If they appear alongside a new co-host, it will remind people of the shoes to fill. Say what you will about his behavior off the track, but in front of the camera and in road testing cars, Jeremy Clarkson made it interesting and compelling. Even non-gearheads watched the show. It was fun to watch him get a rise out of his colleagues, say something irreverant and even mildly suggestive...all in the name of entertainment. I'm fine with how he pushed the envelope overall for Top Gear. It will take another large personality to fill his shoes. Maybe Chris Evans...but maybe not even him.
But, dude, seriously. Be thankful that BBC was your employer. If it were NBC, ABC, CBS or Fox, you would have been fired on the spot. Or you would have had to reinact it on tv, complete with another round in the ring with the victim. Or a similar-looking actor. Maybe with a whole bunch of sponsors.
*Thanks, GoC, for the spouse-naming convention. I love this!
*tap tap tap*
*peers into a dark and dusty room*
Damn, well, I guess I should come in here more often. I kinda let the place down a bit. A neglected blog is an unhappy blog.
Hrmmmm...well, first thing's first...if I clean up this little area over here, that'll get things started.
So, it's been 2 years and 5 months, give or take a few days, since my last entry. Just a few things happened along the way.
1. The dude I was dating back then? Yeah, we got married. That was 1 year, 4 months, 22 days ago.
2. A week after the wedding, he had a stroke. Thankfully, he came out ok--his medic training and my first aid/CPR training kicked in immediately. But his therapy took a while. (The good news? He has very little 'remnants' of the event; some disarthrya/aphasia, but not much at all. Nothing that impedes him from work or daily life.)
3. I might have taken on a few projects. Ok, more than a few. I've been working non-stop. I take minor breaks here and there, but not many. And I'll keep on going for a while, too...I'm teaching again this summer, 2 classes. Hey, the money is good.
4. The Giants might have won another World Series...3 in 5 years. Seriously, without words.
5. Jezza...you dolt...thanks to him, my Mondays are all messed up. Guess Hamster and Captain Slow will have to figure things out....or they all quit in support, come over to the US and do the show properly here. (Read as 'Get rid of the yahoos that supposedly still do the American version of the show here, and make it to what they want it to be here. On second thought, only Hammond would be happy with that....)
There, that corner is done...so, what's next to tackle?
PS...the song is more because I still love it...it's still a bit of a stalker song...but the drum beat kicks it hard. Great song to drive out on the freeway, blaring loud, trying to wake me up as I merge with the other morning drivers.
Hallowe'en. Love me that awesome holiday.
First, EVERY person turns into a kid. Even if you're not quite a costume-wearing person, it's the fun of dressing a bit different, of getting into the mood of candy, celebration, and letting loose for a bit. I mean, really, if you can't get into the holiday, I feel sorry for you. And I feel particularly lucky to have spent most of my life in 2 cities where people are truly into the f
That's a common phrase among many, who in a bleary-eyed moment are trying to sum up their feelings as they shuffle toward their keyboards in the morning. It's a general feeling of fatigue, or grogginess even.
This is my first, second, and perhaps even third thought this morning.
I'm half-way through my Month of Hell, and for the most part I'm holding up well. I'm only slightly behind my grading, which is an awesome feat considering how many students I have this semester. Three of my projects are running smoothly, and people are pulling up their end of the bargain. The majority of the big weekends is over, and projects are getting their final run-throughs.
The one huge project, however, is a mixed bag.
To put it one way, I've been working until midnight twice this week. Both nights, I had a 12-hour teaching and meeting day, so it's not like I got to take a nap some time in the afternoon. And when I come home from said 12-hour days, I'm only mildly coherent in general. But both days I had to resort of a caffeinated beverage at around 4pm (Dr. Pepper, if you please), just to make sure I stayed awake. How odd is this, you ask? I don't drink caffeine...I had to give it up about 5 years ago, due to my constant drinking of black tea all day long. (The weird part was that I wasn't drinking the tea for the caffeine...I was drinking it because I love it, and it kept me from grazing all day long while working on the dissertation. Oh what I would give for a cup or two of assam tea right now...*sigh*)
So, as I get moving this morning, and prepare for an 8:45am meeting, I'm a little rough. I could use a nap, and indeed one will be mandatory this afternoon, after my other big meeting today. I'm turning into the Little Engine That Could, constantly telling myself, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..."
Hopefully soon the mantra will be: "I knew I could! Whew! Now, time to relax!"
(PS--I hate the Eagles...but this is truly the first song title that came to mind. Stupid classic rock station....why do I always wake up to the worst songs???)
This is it...pep talk ready...I can do this!
We're at the end of the month, folks, which means that I made it through my Month of Hell. The Accreditation work that I've been doing is mostly done for now (and will require a lot of attention in January). The ePortfolios project is almost done, and will be ready for 3 November's presentation. The move is 90% complete, and will be done on Sunday.
And I'm still alive! And well! Hurrah!
Just one more weekend to get through...a big event on Saturday for work, that I'm organizing the catering and such, and then the move on Sunday. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a head lamp
So, to start off a mini-celebration, a blast from the past...to put you in a good mood on this Friday before All Hallow's Eve...
*Shuffle into the room*
*Notice tons of dust on the blog*
*Pull out cleaning rag and wipe away dust*
So, uh, yeah, been a bit busy this year. Not that I have a ton of time to maintain this blog currently...and probably won't for another month. But at least I should make an effort, right?
Yeah, I hope so, too.
So, what and/or who has been taking up my time, you ask? Funny, that. In no particular order...
Boyfriend: Ok, that one is in a particular order...yes, the same one since January. Life is truly wonderful--especially since he respects my busy schedule (a first for me). At the end of October we're moving in together, even.
Accreditation: Lemme 'splain dis one, Lucy. Every academic institution, from K-12 to college, applies for accreditation. By receiving accreditation, said institution is eligible for state and federal financial aid, the degrees and learning are 'to minimum code,' to borrow a term from the building industry, and therefore will be accepted at any other academic institution. Accreditation is done by regional bodies, each of which have separate sub-bodies for various levels of education (K-12, Junior/Community Colleges, 4-year Universities). The one that my main campus falls under is known for being the most critical, and for giving out a ton of sanctions every year. So, what does this have to do with me? I'm the head writer for the campus' Self-Evaluation. Thankfully, most of the writing is done by sub-committees, and I just have to make it all one, cohesive unit. Seeing as how I was chosen because of my work on one of the sub-committees, I also have to help that group with their work. No small task.
ePortfolios: On top of that, a colleague in the ESL department pulled me in to work with her on student ePortfolios. Higher ed campuses are moving to this system of keeping track of certain student work, so that the Accreditation Powers That Be will be satisfied with the sacrificial offering. (Ooops, I probably shouldn't use so much snark there...oh well, it's out there.) Anyway, I'm new to that world, too, so I'm learning what I can, trying things out, and creating the workshops for that with my colleague.
Bay Honors Consortium: I got pulled into a group of Honors professors at the various community colleges in the Bay Area last academic year, and I love working with these people. We have 2 events every year: the Round Table in October (for faculty and administrators who want to pow-wow with their colleagues elsewhere in Northern California) and the Bay Honors Research Symposium in late April/early May (for students to present their research in a true academic conference). So, yeah, just a bit of work to do there.
Teaching: So, on top of working a full schedule at 2 different campuses (that are 35 miles apart), my spring schedule featured 3 private groups, and a private tutoring session that I did with a businessman. Thankfully, the full schedule at 2 campuses is still in play, and should be for some time. The private stuff is down to one group, the people I started out with, and who I want to finish up in their series. I doubt I'll be taking on any more work, because of the previously-mentioned stuff.
So, just a wee bit busy
Crap, it's nearing 8:30am. I still need to eat breakfast and get household chores done before I start prepping for this week's mountain.
(Yes, that's new Mumford & Sons...I'm kinda listening to that CD non-stop right now. Hey, it beats the drivel they're playing on the radio!)
Being that it's Presidents' Day Weekend, one of the local classic rock stations did a survey of its listeners, asking them to name the iconic song of each president's term from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan. The survey was put out there by Greg Kihn, a local (and somewhat mildly nationally-recognized) guitarist and band-leader, who does the morning show on that radio station. Nixon's term was represented by Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" (appropriate for so many reasons), I forget Ford and Carter's representatives, but Reagan's was voted as....Van Halen's
This got me to thinking...was Van Halen the most representative rock band of the 80s? And what is it about "Panama" that is so cool?
For me, a kid born in the mid-70s, and an MTV kid, Van Halen was one of the coolest bands ever. Their videos set the tone for much of the goofy, silly, extravagant, party-inducing videos that would come later. But that wasn't the only reason you listened to them...Eddie Van Halen is a bona fide rock god. Seriously...listen to "Panama"...or better yet,
with that mind-blowing solo of Eddie's, and Michael Anthony's bass thumping in the mix. And the beginning of "Runnin With The Devil"......or
...yeah, I'm a happy girl.
Sure, some of the other songs with funnier videos were iconic of the 80s, but if you took just the music...yeah, in many ways, Van Halen was truly iconic of the 80s. And even though I love me some Sammy Hagar, the band just wasn't the same without Diamond Dave wailing and growling away...videos and stage presence aside. Yes, there were many, many other acts of the 80s that could represent the decade--and for various reasons--but I can see the appeal of Van Halen being the representatives. I mean, when you think of Reagan and his crew, isn't the polar opposite Van Halen?
What's sad is to see that Eddie is such an epic rock star that he can't stay dry enough to regain his greatness...Michael decided that he didn't want to put up with Eddie's antics...Diamond Dave is washed up...and does anyone care about Alex? Meh, rock n roll greats aren't meant to go on for ever and ever in the same vein. It seems like the lifestyle and the mentality will destroy the weaker individuals, and make the stronger ones go to other avenues and arenas just to survive into middle age and beyond. Thankfully we have their recordings to remind us of how great they really were.
"So, how are you, really? You sound entirely too stressed. This is not normal." Dad hit the nail on the head, as we were driving to lunch today.
Let's face fact: I'm a creature of habit, as we all are. I'm just one of those creatures who likes to plan ahead, organize as much as possible, so that when the poop pops upward, I know where things are, what can be done, etc. I see it as being prepared, so that I can work a ton and then have plenty of time to relax in between responsibilities. Others consider it being anal retentive. I point to my high-fiber diet and bathroom visits to prove them wrong.
No, I just get my knickers in a bunch when people don't do their jobs, which in turn sets me behind on mine.
I got a call at the beginning of January to take on a class at a campus 45 minutes from home. It's a bit of a haul, sure, but the pay is good, and it gets me back into a district that I used to teach in...this, in turn, could lead to more work in the near future. Usually, if people get me in the system and give me the necessary information quickly, I can plan out a full semester course in 2-3 days. Then again, this relies on people getting me set up so that I can do all this. Instead, due to office people being sick and others not returning emails and phone calls for 2 weeks, I didn't get to plan my class until 5 days before I had to teach. Not to mention that I had to scramble around and get my employment documents done.
About 5 days after I got that initial call, I received another offer to teach staff and faculty of a local high school district. I said sure, only to be put on hold for 2 weeks before I could get planning. And I'm thankful that I had my survey ready to go for the prospective students, the results of which showed that I had to do a completely different plan than the one that I was told would be necessary.
So, if you're counting at home, that's 2 courses (one full semester, one an 8-week job) to plan in a span of 10 days. And it takes time to get all of my ducks in a row, to get the entire course planned for the semester, to upload the online content, yadda yadda yadda. Of course I can get this done, all while also working my other teaching assignment (that got underway mid-January), and the other things on my plate. Sure, why not?
Stressed? Yeah, a bit.
Then again, it'll all be over soon. Semester-long class has been fully planned and is underway. 8-week job is still in need of planning, but until the first week I can't do much--I gotta see how much work these people figure on doing, before I kick them into reality
But, hey, it's all good. Between the cat and the boyfriend, I have enough goofs around to keep me laughing. Now I just need Dad to lighten up about me (hah) In the meantime,
I have no idea why, but
is my absolute favorite song by Otis Redding.
I mean, it's not really about San Francisco; it's really about him. Yes, I know, he was sitting on a pier that ran into the San Francisco Bay when he wrote the key line, but the rest of the song was written by Steve Cropper--and he purposely wrote it about Otis. Evidently, Otis hated writing about his life, but Steve found it full of inspiration.
I guess the rhythm of the song does remind me of sitting at some of my favorite beaches along the coast--Pescadero Beach in particular. Or better still, of sitting on the pier of my great-aunt and great-uncle's place on Tomalas Bay, just north of San Francisco. They sold it in the mid-80s, when I was but a wee lass, but I still remember going fishing with my dad off that pier, and sitting on it to enjoy the sunset.
I guess its purpose is to have us reconnect with some vague memory...it does with me.
A friend on Facebook shared this video...and I was in stitches. Warning, there's a lot of Scottish...perhaps there's foul language, but it's Scottish...but can anyone really tell?
It reminds me of growing up, and the variety of languages and dialects that I heard. We had in our immediate neighborhood: Irish (from Muenster), Scottish (from Glasgow), Filipino (specifically, Tagalog), Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hindi. If you expanded it to those I went to school with, you'd have to include the rest of the English-speaking world, half of Polynesia, various dialects of Spanish, at least two regional dialects of Italian, Greek, Armenian, Farsi...wow, the list goes on and on. I grew up hearing so many versions, pronunciations and combinations of English, it's a miracle that I came out with the 'standard West Coast' dialect myself.
Thanks to Hollywood, everyone things that California is this liberal utopia (save for Orange County), but in fact the Central Valley is home to many 'country folk'--or redneck, if you're a Jeff Foxworthy fan (
). To be sure, the population there exploded during the Dust Bowl era (the 1930s), and all the Oakies and Arkies settled in the agricultural areas to work the fields, hoping to get a plot of land of their own. This is when my dad's family ran away from their lives in southwestern Missouri--another story for another time--and settled in Sacramento, the capital of the state and, one could say, the northern point of the Central Valley. Between the farms and the military bases, the flow of people from the south-central and south-eastern part of the United States has been fairly constant. As a result, to this day you still hear 'rural' American dialects well-represented. My dad's family isn't immune to this manner of speech.
I noted as a child how my dad sounded 'normal' at home and in our area, but the second he was in the company of his sister (the only one of his (at that time) 5 siblings that he liked), he would immediately sound 'country'. And he knew it, so much so that the whole hour-long car ride back home to the Bay Area he would talk a ton just to get the 'country' out of his system.
Today we all spent time with that same aunt of mine--one of my cousins passed away unexpectedly, and today was the funeral. Dad's gotten over his linguistic self-consciousness, and didn't even care that he slipped back into his ancient speech pattern. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that I did it, too...I started sounding country, just a hint of it, like when I lived in Texas.
There is a theory of socio-linguistics that holds that there are people with strong ties to their speech community, and others who have weak ties. Those with strong ties will never lose their speech patterns--their 'accent', if you will--and do not associate with many people outside of their speech community for any length of time. The ones who have weak ties to speech communities are the opposite; much like honey bees, they go to various speech communities, sound a little like all of them, tend to have neutral speech patterns (which helps communicativity in various groups), and are the ones who introduce change to different speech communities. Just like the honey bee that goes from one flower to another to pollinate them all, those with weak links bring various modes of speech to various speech communities, just to see what sticks.
Clearly Dad and I are weak links...and not in the Anne Robinson meaning. I can't speak for him, but perhaps that's part of why I never did feel comfortable about that side of the family. Eh, it's all good in the end.
This birthday really started last night...an awesome dinner with my brothers and sister-in-law at our family's favorite Italian restaurant in the City, a bunch of great chatter and tons of good food. I went to bed last night in a good place...and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Clearly, this is an omen from the Heavens that the forecast for the day, and perhaps the year, will be a good one.
At least, that's what Optimistic Me says. And since I don't allow any other Me to express itself on my birthday, as it were, I'm going with that sentiment.
Even the horoscope this morning was quite positive:
I'm going with either career or romance as the areas to be affected...at least, that's the hope. Who wouldn't?
A different star-reading had the line of the day, at least for me:
Wait...I'm a Capricorn...I naturally think about every offer before I take it...how is that a prediction?
Meh, whatevs. I'm gonna celebrate life and enjoy...hope all of you do, too. Happy New Year, all...Buon anno, tutti. A festeggiare!
Christmas Eve. This day has a ton of personal memories. Growing up, it was always the day of a ton of food, then church, followed by a light supper and tons of Mom's awesome Christmas cookies. And a very fitful night of sleep, as I really couldn't wait until the morning to open packages.
My bedroom was right next to the living room, where our tree was. My parents had to walk by my room to get there, and had to do so silently as I always have been a light sleeper. When they woke up in the morning, they'd quietly walk with the hidden gems of presents to the tree, put them down, and then go to the garage or other hiding places to get the rest. My brothers and I would wake up--in my case I'd have been woken up by the rustling in the next room, and who knows about my brothers--and we'd try to open our doors ever so quietly. Maybe we could sneak a peek, just to see what we'd be getting?
My mom would then yell at us to close the doors. Of course, we did that, lest she take away our presents. But I could always hear her and my dad giggling afterwards. They tried every year to get us to stay in our rooms longer and longer--at the very least so that they could put the pot of coffee on, get my grandmother, great-aunt and great-uncle upstairs, and get everything set before the three tornados came in and made a mess. But it never quite worked that way.
Then I'd hear something be placed outside of my bedroom door...ooh, the stocking! Since we didn't have a fireplace, it wasn't very logical to assume that's how Santa got in...and trust me, I asked constantly. So my parents came up with a different explanation: Santa landed on the deck outside of the living room, and used his magic to open the door so quietly that even I didn't hear him. And yet when I looked out on the deck, I didn't see any sleigh marks on the frost...but, of course, that was magic. (Wow, I was seriously too cynical as a kid!)
And, yes, the secret of Santa got spoiled for me, and very early...but my mom asked me to play along, for the sake of my younger brothers. And despite never being an early riser, Christmas morning was always the exception. The anticipation of the stocking, and of the generosity of others, well, it always got me out of bed early. Even this morning, Christmas Eve morning, when I fully expected to sleep well past 8am, I was tossing and turning at 7:15. Seems like I'm eager to get to Mom and Dad's house, and get this show on the road. I mean, you never know what Santa will bring :-)
Well, most of the presents have been figured out and either purchased or made...just that one person left.
You know how it is...there's always that one person that you have no idea what would be a good gift. In this case, it's my middle brother. And since I already found a good gift for my sister-in-law, I have to think of something equally good for him. So a gift for the couple is out...I think...hmmmmmmmm....
Ok, I'll let you in on the secret: I got my sister-in-law a gift certificate for an hour long massage at a day spa...maybe I could give my brother a certificate for something to do while his wife is getting the massage? Or some other thing that would be equally 'pampering' to him? If my brother and I got along better, this probably would be easier. But the fact is that we don't, for a number of reasons that I don't really wish to go into here. Suffice it to say that we haven't ever really gotten along, not even as kids. I thought about doing a 'lunch and day together' thing, but I don't think he'd like that very much. Sigh and alas, I think it'll take me a while to figure this gift out. Thankfully I have until the 30th, when we siblings meet up, so I have a chance at getting him a good gift.
And, no, I don't fret much over gifts, but just enough to make sure they aren't the cheesy gifts that no one wants. As I watch the commercials--note I said watch, because I mute the TV when the ads come on--there are all of these commercials for *that special gift* for *that certain someone* in your life. Surely the man whose gift you are searching for will want a new electric razor...or perhaps this cologne? Of course there's always power tools and big-screen TVs, because what male can resist the allure of a cordless drill or a 3D plasma screen.
And the 'gifts' for women are just as comical...if the ads are to be believed, every heterosexual man knows that we ladies want jewelry, and that if we don't get any there will be hell to pay. At least, it seems that way from the ads; how many are of men desperately searching for the diamond that sparkles the brightest? Or the tennis bracelet that has the most precious stones? Really?
I mean, sure, if you'd like to give me jewelry, so be it--I'm definitely not going to refuse it. But there were other things on my list that I was hoping Santa would bring.
Here in the States, we have a tradition. It's not the holidays until the Charlie Brown cartoons start.
It starts with "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" for Halloween, but one of my favorite one is "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving". Besides, it sets up a day of football (not footie, mind you...that's a different sport), and this year my Niners are playing in the Har-bowl...the head coaches of both the 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens are brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, respectively, and both teams are goooooooooooood.
But, hey, that's getting ahead of ourselves. Charlie Brown needs to be tricked yet again by Lucy into 'kicking' the ball, only to fall flat on his back. Charlie Brown needs to get bummed out about the holidays in general, because of worrying about food and gifts and such. And then the whole gang needs to come on over and show Charlie Brown the meaning of Thanksgiving. And it's more than pumpkin pie.
As an American born pre-1980, the Charlie Brown cartoons represent a part of childhood tradition...the programs that are always on during the last 3 months of the year, and always on network television. I remember when cable television came to be, and lordy lordy lordy, was it a new fangled thang. The old folks thought that it was just a fad, that there was no reason to pay for television programs, especially since the 3 networds (ABC, CBS, NBC) provided all that you would want. Charlie Brown and his pals were always on network television, just like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" (neither of which I ever liked).
So, tomorrow, I'll be driving to my parents' house, about 75 miles away, for our normal Thanksgiving tradition: football, food, and feeling thankful for all we have. It could be a shite site worse
Happy Thanksgiving to you all...even if you're not celebrating on that day. At least be thankful for Charles Schulz, the genius behind the gang.
Human behavior is so incredibly fascinating. And how we deal with pressure is a big fascination for me. I still am trying to understand my own behavior, let alone what others do...and how we all feed off of each others' energy and actions.
In the last week, the 'busy season' of the semester has ended--not only did I have a lot of grading to do, but I had exams to create, final plans to set up for, and general bookkeeping to do. I have a tendency to just bear down and slog through everything, finishing on time, and not losing any sleep. Well, that's not exactly true; when I'm stressed, I tend to fall asleep just as quickly as ever, and I think I'm sleeping well, but I don't wake up refreshed in any way. In fact, I start off the day very sluggish, and get through on adrenaline. The other element that crops up when I'm stressed is an absolute craving for carbs--pasta, rice and potatoes especially, but even sugary yummy stuff. This time, the big weakness was Nutella...though at least I had the sense to spread it on whole-grain bread. Of course, considering the amount of work I'm doing and the effort to just get awake in the morning, that's probably the explanation for the carb-craving.
Last week also saw the 'ending' of a 'relationship'--the quotes being employed because the thing lasted a month, and we hardly saw each other, perhaps once or twice a week. Evidently I'm a hard ass...or so I was told. Well, I am, especially when I think someone needs to toughen up. And 'hard-ass' doesn't quite explain it...it's more of a mentality of: 'I have enough stuff going on, and you're whining about trivial crap. Let it go, deal with it...I'll help you find an answer, but, dude, seriously, grow up.' And contrary to opinion, I am in fact very nurturing, but I just can't stand weak men. They don't do much for me.
What qualifies someone as being 'weak'? Whining, for a start, especially since the person in question has a very good life, has always had a very good life, and evidently has never had a moment where his checking account was below $200. And everyone has down moments, periods of frustration, and times where a good cry is necessary--male or female. But acting upon the perceived need to curl up in a ball and cry for hours on end because work is hard and you feel like you bit off more than you could chew because you procrastinated for 2 months on major projects before you started a huge new job, well, that doesn't do much for me. It's unattractive, regardless of the gender of the person. Get your tears out, feel relieved, and then get to solving the problems.
And because I was perceiving this series of emotions emanating from the gentleman in question, I could feel myself gritting up around him. He wanted a shoulder to sob on...and I felt the need to wear my spiked shoulder pads. Completely subconscious in the reaction, but honest nonetheless. So when I was told that he was looking for someone exactly like me, but with the added trait of allowing him to cry all he wants, well, there wasn't much I could do. I agreed that we weren't a good match, and that was that.
The funniest part of that whole exchange was that, perhaps 2 days later, I had two students thank me for letting them vent their frustrations (with tears) and helping them through their very real problems (family issues, in their cases). And when I facetiously told them, bah, I'm not nice at all, I'm a hard-ass...they just busted out laughing. "Only at first, profesora, to keep us in line...and then you show your soft side." See? The students get it.
Well, the interview has passed. And my nerves are infinitely calmer for it, too.
I have spent the last week or so cramming as much Italian grammar as I can...which sounds like a lot of studying. But considering this is mid-semester, and that normally implies a mountain of work, I didn't get to study quite as much as I would have liked. Not to mention that I had no time to go to any conversation groups, so my confidence in my speaking abilities was not exactly bolstered.
I knew that in the interview I would have to do 2 different teaching demonstrations--one in Spanish, one in Italian. The Spanish one would be no sweat--I mean, I've been teaching Spanish for 12 years, and this grammar point was one that I did this semester, so my PowerPoint presentation was up to date. But the Italian one? Yeesh...I've never taught Italian, and my confidence was waning.
So instead of conversing with fellow Italian-speakers and getting better, I had to practice my grammar presentation and hope to All That Holy that I wouldn't be asked to do too much more. Regardless, I had practice various grammar elements, spoke Italian when I could (although my cat pretty much ignored me when I spoke to her), and hoped for the best.
Oh, and freak out the entire time. But that's normal.
But, typical for me, once I woke up this morning, the jitters were gone. Sure, I was nervous, but not overly preoccupied with whether I'd do ok. The last few days I've been listening to my Italian rock/pop songs (mostly Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti and Tiziano Ferro), and I played more as I drove the 45-minute drive from my apartment to the interview.
Bottom line, I did fine. On the regular interview questions, I slayed...they seemed genuinely impressed with my committee work and curriculum work, and my other questions seemed to hit the spots that they were looking for. My Spanish demonstration was great, too...but I knew that I'd do well there, too. The Italian demonstration...it went fine. Not great, not excellent, just 'fine'.
I made it
Now, I just have to wait about a week to see if I'll be asked for a second interview, or if I get a 'thanks for participating' email. Regardless, the hardest, most challenging part is over and done with.
Saturday night...after a day of not much, but so much, I feel a melancholy shadow starting starting to creep in. Well, maybe 'melancholy' isn't the right word...definitely it's subdued in nature, and even has elements of uncertainty and doubt in it. This cloud, however, does have a silver lining.
My main teaching gig has me going in different directions. Various groups are asking for my time and effort in order to accomplish a variety of goals. Sure, it's an honor to do so, as they genuinely seem to be interested in my talents. And since it's all in the name of 'college community service', I'm doing many a good deed, in the hopes that it pans out in the end.
Will it get me somewhere? I have no idea. But considering I have an interview in less than 2 weeks for a full-time, tenure-track position at another campus, and I have told precious few at work about it, well, who knows. By the way, the interview for this job has me teaching in both Spanish and Italian, the latter of which I have never taught and, admittedly, I'm rusty. But I can do this. I know I can. I'll be telling myself this for 10 more days, too. In the mean time, you'll be able to find me occasionally in the corner, freaking out momentarily, before I put the self-doubt aside and get to work.
It's a weird sense of split-loyalty that I'm feeling right now. On the one hand, I have zero guarantee that I will get a second interview at that campus, let alone that I'll be granted the position. So part of me says, hey, you have to still focus on your current employer. On the other hand, for all of the work that I have done for them, I'm now running into a massive wall of bureaucracy, one which is seemingly unprecedented on our campus, or at least in recent memory.
I'm on the precipice of change, and I know it. I'm not afraid of change, rather I want it, seek it out, and embrace it. And yet, because my professional fate, as it were, is in the hands of many other people, and I'm being told that my merits will carry me to wherever it is that I'm going, I'm incredibly nervous and edgy. Not that I want to control the situation entirely, but I'd like to know if I have a shot, or if I'm proverbially pissing into the wind. I know it's normal to feel this way, but it doesn't mean that I have to like it.
Wow...I'm sounding like a spoiled brat. Or a whiner. Damn, Sarah, quit yer bitchin!
I will readily admit it: U2 is perhaps my favorite band, and certainly in my personal Top 5 of music acts who have musically impacted my life.
I was ready to write a blog entry about what's going on in the Eastern Mediterranean and North African, making comparisons with Post-Franco Spain and pondering the future of these newly-freed peoples, and suddenly started playing my entire U2 collection. (iTunes is great for that, doncha know.)
Of course, in doing due diligence, I looked up the video. Oh my, how long ago was this song released???
I know I remember this performance at Red Rocks of the same song...I remember seeing it on MTV as a kid, and being struck by wonder. I loved the song...had a na
So it seems that Col. Gaddafi--or, as
--has met his proverbial maker. Obviously, most Libyans (and perhaps others in North Africa) are elated at the thought that their former dictator is no longer in any position where he can control their every moment. And, from what the reports are suggesting, one son is dead, and the other is in custody.
I truly hope that all of this is true.
Call me a cynic, but we went through this before with this family a couple of months ago, that 'the reports' said that the Gaddafi sons were in custody after the fall of Tripoli...only to re-appear later, tongues sticking out and taunting the world, "nah nah, yoooooou didn't caaaaatch me." And while Ol' Moe wasn't exactly buddies with Saddam Hussein, the latter did have numerous body doubles, and I would guess that Gaddafi would pick up the same habit. After all, you can't be too careful when your ass is on the line.
The reports are sketchy, at best, and not confirmed as of 1pm PDT, but it sounds like he was delusional until the very end. He really thought that he would be able to sneak out of Sirte undetected by NATO. Guess not, eh?
I think it's safe to assume that most know that the new 'transitional' government couldn't be able to gain full legitimacy from their own people, let alone others in the world, until the Gaddafi family was completely eradicated from power. So here starts the new chapter in Libya. Will it be a prosperous one? Will it be a moderate one? Will it be a peaceful one? Will it be a repeat lesson of history? Lord knows...but I do hope, for the sake of the people of Libya, that it is truly representative of the people, whatever their wishes and desires may be.
So...the Wicked Witch of the East and West (of the Arab world) are no more...who's next?
There is nothing that makes an instructor-type person feel more frustrated and/or helpless than to watch a student, who you know is well-prepared and otherwise studious participant in all areas, collapse emotionally while taking an exam.
You sit there proctoring the exam, and you see said student freak out--be it crying, sweating profusely, or their eyes start growing to the size of flying saucers. You can't, by protocol, do a damned thing...you can't tell them anything, you can't give them extra time...nothing. And you know that this person studied, perhaps even over-studied. Worse yet is when they tend to excel in every other area, but when an exam comes into their presence, they can't handle it.
Their brain goes into hyperspeed. They start to hyperventilate. Telling them to "just keep breathing" or "calm down" actually works in reverse, making them panic even more. Will the others in class notice? What if I fail!? Holy )(*()_)(&_) And then the tears tend to fall.
In over 12 years of teaching, I've come across most all of the standard and uncommon learning disabilities. Most all of them, either I know a few teaching techniques to help the students, or I can recognize elements that I can address. But test anxiety...ugh. Not only can I not combat it, I don't even understand it. See, I always loved exams...ok, ok, 'love' is too strong a word. But I never did shrink from them...they were simply puzzles for me to play. Or to BS my way through, either way tests are challenges, and I like challenges. Sure, I occasionally was nervous (see: PhD comprehensive exams), but never having panic attacks. So for me to council a person who suffers from test anxiety, well, would be like a professional skydiver to council me on my fear of falling when up on a high platform. How in the hell can you empathize properly and not sound condescending??
This week was midterm week...well, for me, at least. All 3 of my main courses had their midterms. Thursday's class is a special group, with personalities that shine and eager pupils who want to know everything about everyone. One of my honors students was freaking out a bit, but was still upbeat. Then, halfway through the exam, I heard a lot of heavy breathing...like someone was trying to calm themselves down. I looked around, but I couldn't figure out who it is...and in a room with 9 students, it should be easy to do. Ten minutes later, I hear the even heavier breathing and sniffling. I look up, and my honors student is doing the sniffling. But knowing that she suffers from allergies, and the pollen is thick right now, I don't know if she's suffering an allergy attack, or what. Another ten minutes go by, and I see that there are tears rolling down her face...and the sniffling is being stifled unsuccessfully. And my heart sinks.
She ends up being the last to finish...and I technically gave her an extra 5 minutes, seeing as no one else was in the classroom, and no one would know. Once she turned in her exam, she started sobbing...the listening comprehension portion of the exam freaked her out and got her off rhythm, and so she felt like she ran out of time. After talking with her for a few minutes, trying to get her to calm down a bit, I started the slow walk home. I really didn't want to grade her exam, fearing sections of blank whiteness.
Eventually, it had to be done...I had to start grading the exams from that Thursday class, including that of the honors student who freaked out. As I went through the exams, including hers, I found that she wasn't doing that bad...yes, she had sections where she fouled up, but not so much that there was incomprehensible Spanish. Yes, she ran out of time, but there was no catastrophic or epic fail. In fact, as I totted up her score, she passed...barely, with about 4% to spare, but she passed.
At that point, I felt a tear streak down my cheek.
Edit to include the PS:
Last night, after writing this, I emailed the student to let her know about her grade...I never do this, and make all of them wait until I pass the exam back. But I let her know how she did, and what I think the next steps are. Within 20 minutes she replied...and happily. I can now enjoy the weekend
The horoscope roundtable yielded some interesting results. While the first 3 that I read this morning hardly elicited a chuckle from me, this one from Minerva (of all the names! really!) for the week to come by far was the best:
Well, Minerva, and I doubt that's your real name...how is that different than any other week? I often have 'monetary issues'...it's called being broke. The last time I wasn't was....well, um, a long time ago. And for the record, I'm always feeling passionate, especially when I haven't, well, you know, in a while. Actually, I take that back...I'm just passionate, all the time, not to mention always ready for social interaction...why am I going to be any different this coming week? I can't wait to see how this one will end up.
Hopefully the real Minerva will drop some wisdom on your arse...or whatever she sees fit. Taking the name of such a goddess, puh-lease....
For once I'd like a horoscope to really get it right: "Hey, DoL, not much is going to change this day/week from the previous. The sun will still shine, albeit with a bit of coastal fogginess in the morning. Your cat is going to give you attention, but will be a bit whiny in asking for more. You might get a message from a dude who's somewhat interested in you, but then again you might not. You have a ton of work to do, both domestic and academic, but you'll enjoy it; after all, they're projects that you created or signed on for. Oh, hey, it's Sunday in September, so you'll watch both football and baseball. By the way, don't pick the tomatoes yet; you just sprayed them with malathion on Friday, so they can't be picked until Wednesday. That'll teach the bleeping white flies...."
Hmmmm...wouldn't that be refreshing?
It's happened to all of us...we're in a public place, and over the intercom system plays a song that, for whatever reason, strikes a chord immediately with us. Oftentimes it's a song that transports us back in time.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Giants game, where they not only beat the Padres 3-1, but in doing so they swept the series. In one of the middle innings, in between frames, they played
. I could picture David Byrne's sweaty head herking and jerking all over the place, and the weird movements that he did in order to mimic the random videos in the background. I began singing the song, as did some of the others of my age group.
A teenager in front of me had this quizzical look on her face. "What is this song about, anyway? I don't get the lyrics at all. 'Same as it ever was'???" Admittedly, it's a difficult thing to do, explaining the meaning behind the songs of New Age and other 80s pop movements. But this one was a bit easier...at least, I think so. To me, this is about a guy in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He's freaking out over the fact that his life has slipped passed by in a blink of an eye.
Then again, I've been having a few of those thoughts myself lately. Not the mid-life crisis thoughts, but the "where the hell did my life go?" thoughts. I realize that my being in my mid-30s I'm not old enough to really have those self-revelations, but it happens, especially as I see people's updates on Facebook. At times I wonder if I've done enough in my life thus far, and whether I eschewed some opportunities when perhaps it was not wise to do so. Nah...I don't think so. I mean, unless I had an opportunity to be rich and famous in front of me that I just didn't recognize, I think I've done okay so far.
Naturally, in order to write this blog entry, I wanted to watch the video to relive a bit of my early memories of MTV. I forgot how, well, odd the Talking Heads' videos were. I mean, personally, the most creative and awesome video of that decade was
, and for years people were trying to copy it or equal it. Unlike the "Once In A Lifetime" video, which definitely looks nearly 30 years old, "Sledgehammer" looks really good for 25.
Wait..."Sledgehammer" is 25 years old? Where has the time flown? I remember hearing "Thriller" just yesterday...didn't I?
The last couple of weeks have turned out to be more action packed than usual. Usual for the beginning of the academic year, that is. Ironically I've been writing more in my hide-away journal, which is the one I write in when I need to work something out in my head (usually emotionally), as well as creative elements for work. Ah, yes, work.
It turns out that many of my colleagues and co-workers know how much work that I do, have noticed the quality of said work, and my lack of full-time employment. They're increasing the number of times that they mention that it's a shame that I'm not a full-timer anywhere yet. Not that there's a position opening up at my campus any time soon. But there is one at another campus about 40 miles away that I have put my name in for. Don't know what'll come of it, but evidently many people are convinced that it's my turn, wherever it may be. I'm coming to find out that in the last 15 or so years, if an adjunct has been at that status for 5-7 years, they tend to easily find a full-time, tenure-track position at a local campus. Of course, in those 5-7 years you're trying to scrape as many adjunct and other contingent faculty positions together as possible in order to achieve something close to full-time pay. Forgetting, of course, the wear and tear, the gas, and the time that you spend in and on your car. For the record, I'm starting my 7th year as an adjunct in the community college system.
I've also noticed that I'm getting grumpy. Oh, not all the time, and not with any consistency. I mean, I still have a roof over my head, I still have an incredible view from said place to live. Maybe it has to do with some of the dates that I've been on recently. Or that I haven't heard from a couple of people who seem to be avoiding my calls and/or texts. Or that the Giants have finally caught up to the injuries that they've had and won't likely even make the playoffs, never mind repeat as World Series Champions.
Nah. I think I'm getting grumpy because of the damned white flies all over my plants. Little *bleeeeeeeeeeep* just keep on coming, no matter how regularly I spray. Yes, malathion works, but if you skip a session, the flies just come back. And lay a ton of eggs. Little *bleepity bleepity bleep bleep bleep bleep* have got to be stopped!
Oooh...the tomatoes are ripening...and the basil is ready for harvest. And the sage plant is rivaling the rosemary for biggest bush on the patio....ok, I'm feeling less grumpy now. A bit peckish, as the Brits say (or was it just that in the Cheese Shop?), but less grumpy.
Aaaaah...and a pretty sunset to close out this late summer evening. Yep, things are looking up again.
(For the record, I am not a Sheryl Crow fan in the least--a bit too twangy for me--but this song somehow hits the heart routinely. Maybe because I really am just getting a little bit closer to my various goals every day...it's just that, at times, it never quite seems like it. Meh, enough grousing for the evening.)