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.)
I know, I know...two consecutive blog entries...what has gotten into me? Well, a little of this, a little of that. Mostly, it's shame.
I found it interesting that, because of the political in-fighting and stalemate in DC, the national news agencies and some of the local ones have been asking we, the people, to pipe up. They have wanted us to send a message to our Congressional Representatives and Senators, literally, and tell them how their political dueling has affected our lives. I guess the thought is that if enough people send direct messages to the Legislature, they might actually listen to us.
I didn't bother...mostly because, being the cynic that I am, I don't think it would make an iota of a difference. But there was another reason, too: my Representatives and Senators were actually involved in the various versions of the bills being offered...they were being politically active in the process. In other words, they were doing their jobs.
One of the local news stations has a slightly different tactic: they want us, the people, to send in a short video explaining how the economic downfall has personally impacted us. The hope is that both lawmakers and business leaders will listen, and help us out.
Call it odd, but I find that exercise a bit insulting. Or, perhaps, it's a poke to my pride.
See, as it is, people who know me well are aware that I'm only partially employed, and that the cuts to higher education over the last several years--let alone those that are set to come--by both the state and federal governments have pretty much led to this. They know that I'm not doing well financially. But why should I need to broadcast this? Nobody really wants to hear another story of someone who is down on her luck.
I guess the other part that irks me is that I know there are many, many more who have it worse than I do. I mean, I live in faculty/staff housing where I pay rent at about half of market value--and these are really nice apartments with spectacular local views. I have enough money to put food on the table, pay my bills...sure, my discretionary spending is near-zero, but on rare occasions I do go to a movie or to dinner with friends and family. And regardless of how peeved I am at my lack of full-time employment or how little money is in my checking account, I seem to make things work regardless. Sure, I'd like to be more comfortable, and I'm working on that...but what else can I do now?
And when I see some of my students who live in the ghetto, or in shelters...or worse yet, who are being foreclosed upon...all due to unemployment...some of them who have families to take care of...I'm supposed to go on video documenting how bad I have it? No thanks...that's not in me. I'm not saying I live in the lap of luxury, but I'm no where near Skid Row.
(I was going to start sending my cat out to go hunt for food...but seeing as how she hasn't done that in about 4 years now, and even when she did her tendency was to play with her 'new friend' literally to death, well, I just don't think it's gonna work out.)
Dreams can be funny things. Personally, the vivid dreams that I remember are all very linear--they make out like a normal story, just with some interesting elements. But not last night...or was it this morning?
The other odd thing is that I can't remember much of it, most assuredly because of the fact that it was so random. What I do remember is that I was arguing with a guy about something (I can't even tell you what about), while in the background Andrew Dice Clay is doing his "Hickory Dickory Dock" schtick. (If you don't know it, go ahead and YouTube it...but be forewarned, not only is it not work safe, I dare say it's not safe at all.)
Comedy has always been something that I sought out, and it wasn't until graduate school that I understood. The good comedians, the real story tellers who twist language to make it hilarious, are really a type of linguist--semanticist, to be more to the point. The whole element of comedy is taking something and making it funny because of meaning (or pronunciation, but that's mimicry...phonology has its place, as does sociolinguistics, but most don't go into that.) Bill Cosby was the story teller that we were 'allowed' to listen to as kids, because he worked clean, but my parents had tapes of Robin Williams and George Carlin, not to mention that my dad loved Richard Pryor. I remember being about 12 and sneaking into my parents' drawer of tapes in the entertainment unit in the living room, just so that I could swipe the Robin Williams Live at the Met tape or the two George Carlin ones...I'd steal away to my bedroom, close the door (well, mostly...those were the rules), and giggle away in delight while listening to Robin and George riff on various topics. Loved it!
(Of course, my parents knew that I was doing it, particularly my mom...but they never let on. It did burst my bubble years later when they told me that they knew I was doing it...and didn't mind. Dammit...go ahead and spoil my fun and childhood memories...)
When Andrew Dice Clay blew up big, I was just entering high school. Not only did he cuss, but he was crude, raunchy...all the things that a newly-minted teenager loved! But even a handful of years later, when my then-boyfriend would listen to his Dice CDs in the car, I had already lost my taste for that brand of comedy. Actually, I didn't find it to be comedy...it wasn't smart or clever, nor was it even vaguely humorous. It was just gross, like watching some dumbasses trying to reenact Beavis and Butthead in real life.
"But, I don't get it...you loved this in high school!" my then-love-of-my-life noted.
"Meh, I guess I grew out of it...it's pretty bad, dude."
Fast-forward to last night...and why in the hell would I have a dream where Andrew Dice Clay was performing in the background??? What the hell??
As we speak, I'm setting up iTunes with all the George Carlin I have...that'll last me a few hours
Wow, I finally finished. It took the better part of 5 weeks of planning, learning, and implementation, but the major summer project was finished as of Friday morning: the Workshop Site.
Ok, I'll explain: like many community colleges (and often in 4-year universities), our college has workshops for those learning and/or improving their English reading and writing skills. Some of the workshops are grammar-based, others are study-skill-based, but they're all open to any student so that they can improve their chances at a higher grade in their courses. For the foreign language students, well, there ain't squat. We have been sending them to these grammar courses, since many times students will come in with questions on parts of speech and the like--the product of not having studied these elements since elementary school or, in very rare cases, middle school. The problem is that, since these courses are geared for those who either are learning English or who are very poor readers and writers, they aren't really helpful for those who are fully literate and capable English-speaking adults. They needed something a bit different...but we didn't have anything.
So, I made it my mission to create an on-line solution, using the online course management software that we use in the district, which I have been using for the last several years extensively. It took a lot of time to conceptualize what I wanted it to look like, the content both on the site and in the movies/animated PowerPoint slides...but I finally got it done. And I did it on my own...as in, without pay. (Such a dedicated employee....) As a reward, I decided to take the weekend off.
Yesterday, I packed some stuff to work on in my leisure (why can't I just lay on a beach and sleep???), a picnic lunch, and took off in my car. I started down Ca
Decisions, decisions. What is a girl to do? I have choices for my weekend entertainment, and even choices regarding who to spend it with.
I'm dying to go to the beach...I haven't been all summer, although I did go in May. But it's not exactly beach weather: foggy, cold, windy. Actually, it's typical beach weather if we were in June. Oh, wait, this is July. Hmmmm...maybe not.
Part of me wants to go to stay home to work on a new project--doing voice overs on PowerPoints for work. Yeah, yeah, yeah, nerdy, but I'm trying to finish this project by the end of next week, and there is work to do. Besides, I don't even know if I can do this properly here at home--I mean, my colleague-in-the-know said I could, but I don't entirely know what I'm doing. Meh...it can wait until Monday.
I could meet up with a gentleman who wishes to take me out. The problem is that my Spidey-sense tingles just when I talk to him on the phone. You know the type, the ones who pretend like they're looking to build up a relationship, but all they really want is a roll in the hay. Sure, it'd be something to do, to meet up with Mr. Creepy, but I don't exactly want this guy picking me up...then he'd know where I live, and that's not something that a single girl gives up so quickly. Actually, I don't think I'd even want to meet up with him...no, he's just not my type. Ummmm...no, scratch that.
Another 'friend'--or, someone who would like very much to be closer than a friend--wants to meet up. But there's just something odd about him, something I can't put my finger on. Kinda like he's trying to emerge from his cocoon, but has no idea how to do it. Do I give the guy the chance? Well, errr...sounds like a bit of a project, and I'm a bit old for those. (No, really...I gave up on trying to change potential mating partners a LOOOONG time ago...it can't be done, and I don't really want people trying to change me.)
Oooh, with all this cool and foggy weather, I could go for a short hike! Sounds like a ton of fun, actually, and something that I've been trying to work myself up to. Yeah, that's the ticket! Now, which trail?....I'll save that to the morning.
Or...maybe a dinner/movie night? Hmmm...kinda low on cash right now. Then again, I do have a coupon for free ice cream at a decent local chain...perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Especially if I can get someone to join me in the fun. But not Mr. Creepy, and probably not Mr. Shy Guy. I need someone who will be a bit livelier.
Then again...let's see what time I wake up tomorrow...I'm feeling like a good lie in would be a great thing. Yeah...that's about right. Ok, decision has been made...glad you guys could help me with that.
So, NASA is ending an era with the last space shuttle launch. The 'nauts linked up with the International Space Station, there was good cheer to be had by all, and down here we're supposed to lament and cherish this last bit of space exploration by us 'Mericans for a bit. Hmmmm.
Let's face it, I grew up at the very end of the Cold War, so this 'Space Race' stuff is beyond me a bit. Oh, sure, I love sci-fi movies and stuff, and would love to get a chance to see the earth and everything else from space. Mine is the generation that grew up with "Star Wars" over "Star Trek," but we all knew that space was cool because NASA told us so. Like Captain Kirk told us (actually, told our parents initially...we just got it in re-runs), space is the final frontier. But at the same time, I never understood the big hubbabaloo. I mean, so the government doesn't fund space exploration...so what?
Now that I'm an adult, I'm glad that Sir Dickie Branson and other rich folk are taking up the slack. Isn't that the next step to what we saw in "Total Recall?"
Now, on a different note...with the fog and the few high clouds on this beautiful summer day, we're set up to have a gorgeous sunset. I've got a half(ish) moon to gaze at, and perhaps some constellations. Wonder if the Vulcans are watching us?
Hmmmm...I think I'm ok enough to blog for a bit. Hopefully the doctor doesn't balk...eh, hell with it if he does. It's been too long.
June has been an iffy month, oddly enough. Usually there's some major unwind time the first week, followed by a mad dash for cash--be it unemployment insurance (insurance for what? I never did get the name) or a summer job or a series of contracts for various work. And because of the mad flurry of activity at the end of the academic year, that week off usually has me feeling the blahs--not psychologically, but physically. Low energy, perhaps even a cold, and the weather in that early part of June here in NorCal is usually cold-inducing. But life usually rebounds by mid-June, including the weather, and I'm right as rain for a very long time.
Hmmmm...I knew that I had changes in store for me...I just didn't quite expect this.
First week of June...true to form, although the rain wasn't. I mean buckets of the stuff, after a winter and spring that were positively soaked. Odd, but considering I didn't have much energy for anything, and not a lot to do, I could take my time.
Oh, wait...Mom is spending the night so that she can go to a funeral? And then Dad's coming in for a few days to visit and to 'run away from the ranch'? And meetings with colleagues, both old and new, to start various projects? New clients for various enterprises? Meet up with friends? All before I leave on the 11th (rather, the 10th late at night) for a 10-day grading session? Hmmmmm...doesn't leave much time for sleeping, relaxing, and rejuvinating myself. Eh doesn't matter. I can sleep during my downtime. I mean, 10 days of work, accompanied with 10 evenings of relaxing, in Cincinnati? Yeah, I can do that.
Well, sure, I had a wonderful and positive experience in Cincinnati; I graded Advanced Placement exams for Spanish Language, learned a ton about standardized tests (and why I will continue to suck at them), the AP process, and how high school teachers and college professors differ. Met up with friends that I hadn't seen in years, met new ones...I loved it. But 8 hours of sitting and listening to students talk to Juana about calculators, Julio and parties, and then for 2 minutes a piece about how a good breakfast and only 30 minutes of exercise a day can drastically improve their lives...wow, I didn't think it'd be that draining! When we ended at 5 in the evening, I would often eat a small meal, and then chill out in Fountain Square (the central plaza for Cincinnati) or what have you...nothing that required exerting energy. Or, often, go back to the hotel and rest...me waking up at 6:15 every morning killed my energy at the end of the day. But, as the time there went on, I got better at managing everything, and should I be asked back again next year (which I do hope for), I know what to do differently.
So...get back on Father's Day late (and I did call Dad from the airport...which is all he ever really wants on this Hallmark day)...followed by a week of running around regarding new projects, new clients, etc...come Thursday evening, I was completely drained. What is going on? This isn't normal....hmmm....maybe a good workout Friday morning will make things better.
Or make things worse? I don't know...developed a very sore throat on Saturday, which worsened and had not progressed by Tuesday morning. Not to mention there are certain other pains that I hadn't ever encountered before...below the belt...no more detail is necessary, and suffice it to say that there is not a comfortable position to sit/stand/whatever. Doctor chimes in...strep throat and groin issues...ugh, really? I'm seriously feeling HELLA old...like ancient and falling apart. I've never had strep last longer than 36 hours...and this time I couldn't budge it without help from Mr. Amoxicillin. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I **hate** taking medicine and pills...I am built for moving at a constant rate of speed, with a personality for enjoying life. I ain't exactly enjoying life right now, dammit
And here I am...on my couch (for now), healing. My cat has been my companion...at first she thought I was just sitting a lot because of her, but now after a few days she's gotten the hint that I'm not at my best, so she keeps checking in on me, licks my forehead or my hand (whichever is closer), and frequently brings me a ball or a toy to play with. Ooh, wait, she wants me to play with her....eh, nevermind...I thought for a second I had an enlightened cat.
(And, yes, clearly I'm feeling better, as I can even joke about this. I'm incredibly blessed that I am a healthy person, who has never been 'out of commission' for more than a day. Forgive the whining, the crabbiness, and the lack of sunshine. Then again, it poured buckets again yesterday here, and today the clouds still linger. Maybe I moved to Seattle and didn't realize it?)
Meh, can't end negatively...positive always works best. Ok...Giants are winning despite injuries...my plants are pretty...my cat is purring while sleeping next to me...yeah, that'll work. Enjoy the rest of the day, everybody!
Fellow sports fans, have you ever noticed how a radio or television broadcast of a sporting event can be made or broken solely on the skills and prowess of those calling the game?
There's no question that I learned the game of baseball by listening to Giants' broadcasts on KNBR radio, whether I was at the game or at home. Later, yes, our television announcers fell into greatness, but growing up Hank Greenwald called play-by-play on the radio on our games, plus the national games were called on TV by Jack Buck or Vin Scully. These really were (or are, in the case of Vin, who is still calling Dodger games after 60 years with the team in that capacity) the cr
It's been a while, I know. I was doing well with the weekly blog, but then comes the end of the semester...and the end of year festivities. But, the exams have been corrected, the grades have been awarded (can you really award someone a failing grade?), and I'm in recovery.
Oh, don't worry, this is normal. I usually am cranking and churning out work at such a high rate of speed during finals week, and it takes about a week of moving slowly to 'recuperate'. Nothing gets done quickly, except for the cleaning of the apartment on Monday because of a last minute visit and stay over by my mother. Thankfully Monday was planned on as a cleaning day, but more was done than I thought. But at least it passed muster!
To be honest, I'm in a bit of a funk. Perhaps it is just recovery from the year, but I think there some other issue. You see, part of what has been keeping me away from this blog is the fact that I've been trying to find part-time employment for the summer and the rest of the year. I originally thought I had something at a bakery in North Beach (the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco), but I've realized that it's just not going to work out. Not only is the management a bit on the creative side (and not in the positive way), but parking is atrocious, and it's a hassle of a commute. So, that's gone. I've put in for various banking jobs, office jobs...come to think of it, I've put in for most any kind of job. I've had a few bites, but nothing else has really stuck.
So, just a bit ago, I re-applied for unemployment...or 'unenjoyment', as my friend Hank calls it. Sure, it'll cover the basics, but still, I wish I didn't have to. Even though I know that I'll be back teaching in August, and I have a bunch of projects lined up for the summer, there's something soul-deflating about signing up for 'gubmint cheese.' And how people like my youngest brother, who's been unemployed for over a year, or our own Caldrail make it through, I don't know. I apologize now for offending people...whining isn't becoming of me, I know. I guess it's just the blahs, or something else.
Hmmmm...what to call the blog entry today...something that reflects my mood? Meh...nah...need a pick-me-up. Ah, yes, The Clash. That'll pick me right up!
Mothers' Day. This was supposed to be a glorious day. Even though the wind has been howling since last night, the predicted showers stayed away from the City By The Bay. On my way to the Giants' game, I met a gentleman at the train station...a new friend, for now, but who knows. He invited me to join him for breakfast with his friends before the game. After a spirited and gregarious meal with my new friends, I met up with my parents in our seats, and we watched the Giants' new (yet old) pitcher take a no-hitter into the 5th, and ultimately sweep the Rockies. Although I missed my new friend--he ended up taking the train that left right as I got at the station--I still felt ok.
Earlier in the day I noted that a mutual friend was sending condolences to Julia, a former high school and college classmate...but it was so vague that I didn't know what had happened. So as my train was pulling from the station, I went onto Facebook...and noticed that Julia posted a news article about an event.
On the surface, it is tragic...an 18-year old kid killed in a car accident. Seemingly, he slammed into a tree, probably at high speed, given the horrific nature of the evidence. Anyone would read that, note that the date is the Saturday of Mothers' Day weekend, and be struck by the irony, that the extinguishing of a life on this weekend is even more tragic.
May Day...not a holiday here so much in the United States, but perhaps now that will change.
My day started out a jubilant one just on general principle. I knew that I didn't have anything to do, and therefore I planned on going to the beach for a much needed respite. It was a gloriously sunny day here, and while it was still springlike and cool in the air temperature, the ocean salt air and the sun at my back made for a wonderful and tranquil day. I came back home a bit early to take in a couple of hockey playoff games (natch, the Sharks won ), and I had my notes all ready for what I was going to put in my next blog entry: thoughts that bubbled up as I watched the waves crashing along Pescadero State Beach, which happens to be my favorite.
I follow President Obama on Twitter, mostly because he'll give a heads-up on some interesting tidbits that the news sources will 'scoop' shortly thereafter. At 8pm Pacific Daylight Time, he tweeted that he was about to address the nation, and I very honestly didn't think much about it. Shortly thereafter, I saw a tweet from ABC News, that Osama Bin Laden was dead, and that the President was about to address the nation.
Um, what? Come again? Osama Bin Laden, that sonuvabitch who has directly or indirectly killed thousands of people around the world? He's dead? Really???
Details are coming in through the news, and the tweets have been wonderful to read. Some have been smart-ass in nature, which I personally love. Others are more reverent, more subdued, and thankful for the thousands who had tracked this unholy man, and many of them lost their lives in doing so. The ones who are particularly annoying to me right now are those who are being overly cautious, pointing out that there will be retaliatory attacks and those who are insistent that we should never let our guard down...as if reminding us that cutting the head off the hydra will just create 2 new ones. Look, I know that there will be retaliatory attacks--I even said it in my post on P.Clod's post--and to think that they won't happen is foolish. There will also be more Al-Qaeda activity...the #2 guy is still out there. But this is truly a time for the world to rejoice, that justice did prevail.
And the first person that I wanted to reach out to when I heard the news? An ex-boyfriend...the one that I talked to as I watched the second plane slam into the Tower on September 11th. I don't have his number or his email, and I don't know where he is right now. Yet for some reason that's the first person that I wanted to talk to...the person who I shared that stunned moment with almost 10 years ago.
An hour after the announcement hit the airwaves, there are crowds of people coming to the White House, which they're showing on the news. People are singing the national anthem, chanting "USA!", and coming together as one. I wonder if the politicians will do so, too, and get stuff done in the government in a bi-partisan manner. Nah, that's too much to ask.
Easter is a time of year when families comes together to eat. At least, that's what I always figured. I mean, we woke up to chocolate in the shape of gold coins, little egg-shaped chocolates, and other surprises that the Easter Bunny would leave for us while we slept. After going to Mass (perhaps the only time we went to Mass on Sunday instead of Saturday evening) when we actually had to wear really, really good clothes, we'd pose for pictures in the garden before a big brunch. Oh, and magically the Easter Bunny would pass by a second time while we were at Church, because there would be eggs strewn all over the garden and we'd all have chocolates in egg form from the local chocolatier. After goofing off all afternoon, there'd be some sort of dinner with many members of the Italian-side of the family, with a full multi-course Italian meal: appetizers, antipasto, pasta, and the entr
Another long absence. I know, I've missed you guys, too. Well, honestly, for the entire month of March I was so damned busy that I didn't miss anyone...that requires down time, a luxury that I had none of.
The biggest issue lately has been getting colleagues to finish their work. The problem of this situation--mine being uncommon--is that my colleagues had very valid excuses for not getting their part of the projects in question done. One colleague had a family emergency--one of her teenaged sons suddenly had stroke-like symptoms, and after a myriad of doctor appointments the diagnosis was that the poor kid suffers from migraines, which are induced by stress. What stress, you might ask? Oh, the kind of stress that results in parents who are bitterly divorced, with one parent (my colleague) providing the discipline and guidance of a good parent, while the other (her ex-husband) not giving a flip about being a parent, and who instead would rather bicker about how much money he has to pay in child support and pretend that getting a job is the worst punishment that could be extolled upon him. So between visits to the doctors, the psychiatrist, and the courts, she's been burning the proverbial midnight oil to get things done...and I think she just caught up a few days ago.
Another colleague is suffering from an unknown illness...and while she hasn't missed any teaching days, she's had to back out of some committee work in order to get her health in order. And since it's a digestion problem, well, you can imagine that her energy level isn't what it usually is.
The third colleague is also a local politician, and is heavy into the budget of the city. Of course, if you get into such an arena, you should accept the fact that you have to balance the rest of your life accordingly, and he does. Regardless, it meant that his part of the data wasn't in to me when I needed it.
So...all this swirling around my head, plus my private courses taking more of my time than I thought they would...oh, and 6 straight weeks of rain (ok, ok, the sun did come out for, like, 4 days in that stretch...so sue me), I was a right grouch. It was all I could do to just get my 40 winks in a night, with my mind whirling and deadlines approaching.
Finally, everything finished up the very last week of March. Even Mother Nature started to cooperate, and the weather cleared up right as I entered into Spring Break. And the timing couldn't have been better; a week with no work, no projects, and sunshine! Sure, it was also cold and windy, but who cares! Spring was here!
This week, I've been enjoying my 'normal' work load. Outside of one minor project in a couple of weeks, I'm done with special jobs, have most all of my major work projects done (just one more midterm to create, and then it's all grading from there). Even this weekend, I did a large chunk of my grading earlier in the week, and now just have a small stack of midterms to plow through. Looks like the rip-roaring rapids have slowed to a calm stream. Hmmm...maybe I'll go to the beach after all.
Edited to add: Despite the title of the blog, the real song in my head right now is the following, based on the absolutely gorgeous spring day that we had here:
New month! New start! Newly deposited cash in bank account! (This last one being probably the most important.)
These last 6-8 months have been disastrous on me financially. A lack of work combined with clients who pulled out at the last minute meant that I was scrambling for extra cash. Now I think I'm finally in the clear--oh, my proverbial boat didn't exactly come in, but I'm back to full paychecks, and debts have been paid off.
Of course, I need to replace my glasses, my car needs servicing, and I just know that there's something else around the corner.
So what does the resourceful person do when they need to augment their monthly cash flow? Go out and get a second job, of course. One that I can work part time, preferably on the weekends. Sure, I know that means that I don't have that much free time to play, but if I'm honest, I don't have much money to play with, so it's either sit at home and work (for free), or go out and work (and get paid). I'll take the latter, thank you.
So why is it that I can't find a job? Evidently I'm supremely overqualified. No one wants a PhD to do a part time desk job on the weekends, not even data entry stuff. Seriously? I'm not even asking for extra compensation for my education--that's what the academic world is for--and I'm ready to work full time in the summer...let alone the fact that I don't have a possible full-time gig for some time, so I'll be around for a while. Really, I'll work for cheap...just give me some extra income!
Still no go? Really? Feh. Drat and poo. (Stephen Fry's twittering has influenced me lately...dunno if that's a good or bad thing.)
Eh, things will happen...they always do. Someone will magically come to me with a contract-based offer, a translation job that will pay me what I want. It usually happens that way...right when I'm most desperate, someone I know has some work for me. Of course, it's not steady, and I never know when it's coming. Nonetheless, I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
So what exactly has this got to do with the song title of the blog? It's simply the song in my head, one of many that seems to pop up when I feel the urge to let go, relax, and roll with the punches. I mean, someone has to keep me from being a melancholic bore, and there's no one else here to do that. Besides, I'm pretty sure they'd charge
Up until about a week ago, much of the North American continent was in a very gripping Arctic snap--so bad that it was likened to having a hurricane-type pattern of wave after wave of winter storms. Extreme bitter cold, snow measured in feet...yet on the West Coast we had nothing but gorgeous weather. Sunshine, spring-like temps...in February. Not really normal, although it was somewhat, in that we usually have a week or so of warm weather in this second month on the calendar. But not for like 2+ weeks. Eh, it was fun while it lasted, but I was very quick to not boast about it. Ya see, I know that Mother Nature is a fickle witch, and she doesn't like you to really get too happy about what you have. Boasters never prosper, kind of thing. I knew our turn was coming.
So, for the last 5 days, we've had nothing but cold and rain. We've had steady soaking rain with temps in the 50s, thunderstorms with hail and temps in the 40s...it keeps going and going. It's supposed to end tonight, with chances of rain on Monday and Thursday, but at least we're set up to see the sun come tomorrow. I do hope so...my hyacinths are desperate for sun, and my baby lettuces are starting to get pale with lack of warmth.
Not to mention, I'd like to get into the pool shortly...this mermaid likes to play in the water, not necessarily be sprinkled or doused with it.
Dammit, Mumford & Sons didn't win at the Grammies. Meh, no accounting for taste, really.
I know, I've been gone a while. Work has been atrocious lately, and the private life has been run topsy-turvy. More details to come at a later point in time.
But I will say this: It's never easy to let someone down, but when you have a floater, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. Why it is that people can't, or perhaps refuse to, understand, I don't know. But if after one or two dates there isn't much there, one needs to walk away, and the other needs to respect that. Alas, at times the best laid plans never quite work out.
Ok, need to get ready for the day. Where did I put my umbrella? It looks like it's going to pour down.
So...California, that fair state o'mine, has a new governor. Although, it should be pointed out, he's also a former governor; Edmund Gerald 'Jerry' Brown, Jr. was governor for two terms in the 70s, and overall wasn't bad. He also wasn't exactly good, either. His father was governor here for 8 years, too, in the 50s and early 60s.
The Jr. Brown, also known in his previous stint in Sacramento as "Governor Moonbeam," has some legendary characteristics. He's considered a bit of a free spirit, someone who went to seminary school, gave it up because he liked women (how horrible!), and instead went to Berkeley for a Classics degree before heading to Yale for a law degree. He wants people to follow rules, especially big corporations. He's been a governor, a Secretary of State, a District Attorney for the state, and Mayor of Oakland (oy vey). His is famously frugal; his is the only gubernatorial era in that the governor did not occupy the official Governor's Mansion, opting instead for a flat near the Capitol--this is happening again this time around. He slashes state budgets, cutting waste...or should I write it as 'waste', since one person's waste is another person's necessity. He's a bit of a power monger, as he is known to cut entire positions and take them on himself.
But you say, hey Doc, is that so bad? And my response is: eh, depends on who you are.
For example: while he wasn't exactly a great governor, either, Arnold Schwartzenegger was a friend to education, in particular higher education. It was his position that an educated populace is what will propel business and politics in the state--therefore, we need to make sure that while we are in a fiscal crisis, education would be best untouched, but at the very most it must not suffer huge cuts in spending. The education sector, especially higher education, did suffer reduced budgets, but mostly at the hands of the Legislature, who wanted to cut even more from our small purses. Ah-nuld didn't jive with that, and put back money where he could. He also introduced some pretty innovative and revolutionary legislation on how to fund education and infrastructure...but because he wouldn't exactly play ball with the incredibly-powerful lobbyists (with particular reference to the California Teacher's Association (union) and the nurses' unions), the propositions were downed in defeat, and he lost all possible political negotiation power. Ever since, the unions and the Legislature fought Ah-nuld all around.
When the 2010 Gubernatorial options were offered up, and it was down to two, most every Californian I know and listened to had to choose between what we considered to be two evils: a former governor who is known to slash budgets painfully all over to the point of bleeding, or a businesswoman who, while successful in that realm, has zero political experience and knows nothing about how Sacramento works and who admitted that for almost 20 years she never voted because 'she didn't have the time'. Hmmmm...Option A isn't exactly a great one, but we just had several years of another form of Option B, and that pretty much sucked. Besides, maybe some budget slashing could be in order?
Tomorrow (Monday) Governor Brown announces his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, and I for one am uneasy. He has already announced that there will be cuts everywhere, including education, and unless he means that there will be cuts to administrator salaries and/or benefits, that means cutting not fat, but meat and bone from already emaciated budgets. While the president of my college has been proactive in years past, and our district now has bond money to play with for the next handful of years, that doesn't mean that we have money to spare. In fact, we have lost so much in faculty, counseling and staff that are necessary, it's in those areas that we're spending money. So I'd like to ask the Guv, where exactly would you like us to spend less? Oh, and we have more students now than we ever have, so asking us to cut is also doing a disservice to the community at large. It's much the same story everywhere in the state.
I'm glad that he is starting with his own 'house' first, cutting positions and staff in the governor's office that are unnecessary and superfluous. Some of the benefits and privileges of the Legislature probably should be cut, too, but somehow I doubt that'll happen. I just hope that in the spirit of frugality the public is not forgotten.
On the other hand, we are talking about a career politician, who is also from a political family. I guess if anyone can massage egos in Sacramento, it'll be 'Good Ol' Jerr'.
I'm in a right bouncy mood. It's the fact that I'm half Tigger, half Roo, to be sure. There are just certain days that I wake up and feel the need to bounce around all day, playing gaily and freely.
What to do today...what to do today...
Well, there's a pile of work to be done...but seeing as I have an aversion to work on my birthday, well, that's not exactly an option today.
The apartment does need to be cleaned and the laundry done, but that's not much work, so I'll do that. It fits into the schedule, so to speak.
Kinda wanna go for a walk...but kinda wanna be lazy. Maybe a lazy walk?
Hmmmm...what else....what else...I know! I can send out all these Amazon orders that are stacking up! But that is work...and I need to go to the office supply store to get more CD envelopes. Eh, maybe...doesn't have to get done until Tuesday, so there's still time.
Which reminds me...if anyone is interested in a pair of snow spikes for ladies' shoe size 6-10 (American), let me know...an unwanted Christmas gift...actually, an unneeded Christmas gift, since I don't live in a snowy place, nor do I go to such places. They tend to be cold. I'll totally trade...make me an offer I can't refuse.
Well, tonight's plans are set, I know that: best friend coming over with Chinese food, then off to a local saloon for revelries. But what to do with this gloriously sunny morning? Eh, let me dwell further on it...don't rush me...I'm enjoying the day.
Happy New Year to all! May the dawning of 2011 be like the dawning of my 36th year on earth: sunny and full of positive possibilities.
Ah...beautiful Cuban son playing in the background...just close your eyes, and you can feel the sun warming you to the core as you sip a mojito...ah...paradise.
Bella! Get off of me! I'm daydreaming in the sun patch on the living room floor! Go get your own sun patch!
Ok, I confess: I'm dreaming of wonderful tropical climes because it's damned cold outside.
Ok, ok, I confess again: I'm a native Californian, and we're weather wusses. What's cold for us is a brisk spring day for most in the Frozen North. I don't wanna hear it. All I know is that, while it may be sunny out, the air temperature *might* be 50'F in the daytime, and the strong northwestern winds are blowing a gale, bringing the relative temps down to 35'F or so. Holy cripes, that's cold.
Normally I would wait until after New Years' Day to take down the Christmas decorations, but somehow I'm done with them already. I don't know, maybe I put them up just a bit too early...Thanksgiving weekend. Regardless, everything came down today, including the lights on the deck. That meant going out there and trying to stay upright as the win did its best to knock me down. I won, in case you were curious. I think I've never been so happy to have my cat lick my nose afterward...she thawed it out, for certain.
But, indoors, that's a different story. I share my cat's predilection of taking an afternoon snooze in the sun, something that I have enjoyed since I was a ni
Just a little more than a day before Christmas, and all through the house,
there was plenty of scurrying, but not by a mouse.
Ok, ok, ok...I can't do that...never was that good about reworking classics. But this song in particular has some great memories associated with it.
The song has undergone a 'modernization,' but it's still a good one:
See, when it came out 30 years ago, I was a wee lass, and didn't know of its existence at first. But within a couple of years, it became a permanent part of the personal Christmas repertoire. My mom instantly loved it, especially the hokiness of it. I mean, seriously, it's funny! It's not meant to be as serious as "White Christmas," or as merry as "Jingle Bells," and of course it's not religious in any way. But it reminds you that this is the season to be jolly, to be childlike with anticipation and goodwill. It's funny!
But...and there's always a but...there was Dad. When I was a kid he hated this song, and I do mean hate. If it came on the radio, he would turn it off, even if the radio in question was in my room and I was quietly enjoying it. He found it offensive, humorless, and overall a representation of the evils of modern society. I called him a killjoy several times, and I think Mom's stepping in finally killed his off-turning ways. But he always maintained that he hated the song, and his actions and body language certainly backed that up.
Fast forward several years...to 2 weeks ago. We're driving through a local farm that has a holiday light display every year...well, I take that back, this is the second year of it. But still, we were driving through, marveling at the creativity and beauty, and at the same time talking about Christmas songs. Dad then lays this bombshell: "You know, I haven't heard 'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer' this year...I love that song! It's so funny!
Mom and I immediately interrogated him on that point, bringing up his actions and words of the past. His retort was simple, yet very un-Dad-like: "Well, I guess I grew used to it, and started to like it."
Dude, this is my dad...one of the most rigid of opinions. Literally heaven and earth has to move before he changes his usually well-informed opinion on something. And when it comes to popular culture, he is incredibly granite-like; this is a man who started his adulthood in 1960, and disliked essentially every major British rock band to ever create history, simply because they were British. (For the record, King Jimi Hendrix and Queen Janis Joplin rule his musical kingdom, and only Eric Clapton has cracked his lineup.) The only other time I ever heard him change his opinion on popular culture was on the usage of the word 'suck,' however I understood (later) why he hated us kids to use the word; he figured he could control us from cussing, despite the fact that he was a beautiful example of how to improper language in a most eloquent manner.
So, as I sit here and use my Christmas/Birthday gift from my parents (all 32" of LCD and HD-goodness), I start rolling the Christmas songs in my head again...and sing along to the tale of what happens when someone drinks too much eggnog and tries to walk home in the snow on Christmas Eve night.
Yes, GhostOfClayton, your entry talking about Human League has put me in a right 80s mood. Actually, to be fair, I was listening to a fair bit of Madness, Clash, and others this afternoon before reading the blog, but still.
So, finals are over! Well, for me they are. I had everything graded by last night, 10pm...record time, I might add. Then again, it was pretty clear that many of my students just didn't do so well on the final paper. I mean, sure, it's an in-class essay, but when I give you a month to practice it, you should get darned good at it. Of course, if everyone did, then they'd all get As, and that's not exactly my thing. So, a good spread of grades overall.
But it got me thinking of how I want to tweak the assignment. My intermediate Spanish students have to pick a movie off of a list (of course, the movies are Spanish-language), and write a specific essay which tests various linguistic elements. It's cumulative in the truest sense of the word, because it's meant to accurately encapsulate their capabilities at that time. Since the course is a 3-semester series, as students progress they do better. And interestingly, the native speakers in the class don't necessarily do better than the language learners; since I have the students type up the essays, they have to use spell-check, although many don't, or they choose incorrectly from the options that Microsoft Word offers up. Either way, good students tend to do well, while mediocre students don't. Poor students often don't show up, or they come to the final exam time with the "duh" look on their face...usually the result of them not watching a movie and following the instructions of the assignment.
So, grades are in...let the games begin!
Winter Break starts with me playing hostess and tour guide. My very good friend Alanna is out here visiting...her first visit to Northern California. The bad news is that tomorrow is the only day of her visit that is scheduled to be a dry day; the entire rest of the trip there are storms blowing in off the Pacific. At least tomorrow we'll get in a fair amount of sight-seeing in San Francisco. Friday we'll get some things in, perhaps, but Saturday is a complete howler of a day; 50 mph gusts and tons of rain are projected. Sounds more like a day to catch a movie locally, stay home and catch up. Then Sunday morning she takes off for her hometown in central Massachusetts.
Anyone else wanna come along?
This truly is the calm before the storm. Relaxing night tonight, after spending the day with a couple of friends. Tomorrow afternoon I head to the parents' place for the evening; we'll be going to the neighbor's farm, which is decked out with Christmas lights and winter wonderland-ness galore. Then a calm Sunday before...the whirlwind.
Monday afternoon: office hours
Monday evening: final exam #1
Tuesday mid-morning: final exam #2
Wednesday evening: good friend comes into town
Sunday morning: good friend leaves
Monday evening: holiday pot-luck party at my place.
Just a bit of a full plate. And just the way I like it, I must say, although I would have liked to have another day between the finals and my friend coming in to town, but it's all good.
My friend has never been to San Francisco or Northern California, so I have a wide-array of activities in the hopper. All that is required is good weather; if the weather turns rainy, as it is preliminarily projected to be, then plans can be changed. Of course we'll go to Union Square and the shops and such there, regardless of the weather. But if good weather prevails, then we'll definitely hit my favorite coastal spots, and perhaps a walk on my favorite trail, near a reservoir. I love playing tour guide!
My local friends are asking about my New Years' Eve plans, as if I have my life planned that far. Many know that it's also my birthday, but some don't, or don't remember, and I'm not exactly inclined to remember. As far as I'm concerned, as long as my family remembers (and they do), that's all I need. No gifts needed...a phone call suffices. And I never got into New Years' parties, either...I mean, it's a new year for me, sure, but for everyone else? Eh, no biggie. On the other hand, I'm not gonna turn down an invite out of Bah Humbugism. And yet...they're stunned that I'm not hosting a party, or that I don't already have plans. Um, I never really have plans. How has this been different than the norm? Besides, something always comes up last minute.
On a brighter note, my horoscope says that a large chunk of change is due my way tomorrow, and my employment and business goals will be fulfilled in the next 2-3 days. Wait...didn't it...um...didn't it say that last week? And this past weekend, too? It's as if the readers of the stars don't know me at all...feh. I'm going back to the tarot readers...they seem to know me better. *snicker*