31 December 2010

The Laws of Christmas Music on the Radio

  • Thou shalt announce the artist's name.
  • Thou shalt not play the same artist within the same half hour.
  • Thou shalt announce the artist's name.
  • Thou shalt not play the same song by the same artist more than once a day.
  • Thou shalt announce the artist's name.
  • Thou shalt not repeat the same song in the same day if thou canst help it.
  • Thou shalt announce the artist's name.
Any you'd like to add?

21 December 2010

Lessons Learned Lately

If the candle wick won't blow out, and it's spewing smoke, and you're worried it will set the smoke alarm off, you should NOT blow very hard on it because the candle wax is liquid and will go spraying everywhere, making you VERY GLAD you are wearing glasses due to an earlier melt-down.

So, um, what's the best way to remove and dispose of candle wax from the following surfaces?
  • glass
  • hair
  • countertops
  • walls with weak and cheap paint
  • plates
  • cardboard
(I already scraped it off my skin. No scars this time.  :)

20 December 2010

Full lunar eclipse on the winter solstice indeed

I totally freaked out the employees of an optometrist today by crying in front of them.  (I apologize, desk lady, because I know it had nothing to do with you.)  Slightly mortifying, but it's been a long semester.  (At least it washed that goop out of my eyes.)

Last week, I stopped in to check and make sure they would accept the coupon I had, and they said they would extend it for me, and I was so happy.  I read what my insurance people gave me, and I thought I'd read all the fine print on the coupon, but, in the end, I had to pay $75 I didn't really have budgeted when I'd expected to pay $0.  And they charged $10 more per box of contacts than my regular place, so I could only get 3 boxes for what amounts to $75.  I am not making this up.

It's a scam.  I give up.  I can use the $75 to get 6 boxes of contacts next year when I have FSA money, save myself the hassle and the cynicism, and also save myself from finding out my vision has gotten even worse.  (I thought it had stabilized.)  Now I'm so worked up, I don't even trust the eye doctor.  I want to say he was lying about the prescription, too, because he knew when it gets up that high, the contacts cost even more. 

I think I should be avoiding humanity right now.  They don't deserve to have their happy Christmas season screwed up by an adult crying in front of them.

I really need some sleep.  It would also be nice not to be in pain.

In other news, full moon, full lunar eclipse, shortest day of the year.  It can only get brighter from here, right?

15 December 2010

Apparently, I am quite low

. . . in iron, that is.  What foods are cheap, are rich in iron, require very little (read: no) preparation, and taste good?

11 December 2010

What is it about snow?

What is it about snow
that makes me lose
all motivation to work
even if I have the curtains
closed?

08 December 2010

I can't tell you how much I want 10 solid hours of unconsciousness right now

"I'm not sure what to diagnose.  It's complicated." 

That's what the sleep doctor told me. 

Cause and effect and symptoms are all mixed up, and she needs hard facts.  I will supply her with them in the new year when I have some money from my FSA to pay for them.  Then we'll see.  Something. 

I'm sure it will be complicated.  I apparently can't be otherwise. :-/

04 December 2010

The Rabbit in the Moon

I saw the rabbit in the moon! 

This is significant because I have never seen "The Man in the Moon," which is what Americans are supposed to see when they look at the full moon.  (I blame manga.  And manwha, if I'm being fair.  Somehow, reading all those Japanese and Korean graphic novels has corrupted my vision. :) 

Back to the rabbit.  It was eerie.  I looked up, and there it was: a rabbit clearly made out of crater shadows on the moon.  I had never seen it before, and I haven't seen it since, but for that one time, it was clearly there.

I wonder if I would have seen it on my birthday if I hadn't been hibernating during that full moon.  Ah, well, I've seen if once, which is more than I can say for the Milky Way.  Blind spots indeed.

Ever seen any interesting shapes in the moon?  Do share.

30 November 2010

Billboards and signs that make me laugh

  • "Buy 1 chicken, get 1 free!"  (Fast food restaurant sign)  I really want to find a willing and gullible child, so I can tape the little one going in and asking how much it costs to get the free chicken and whether it's a hen or a rooster.
  • "'Crouch without the Ouch' Ballroom Jeans" (Billboard for a clothing company that always has funny advertisements).  I snort every time I see this one.  It's just . . . well, I think it's funny.
Seen any good advertisements lately?

27 November 2010

Roads not there

There is massive construction on the only road that leads away from my apartment.  Massive.  The location of the actual road changes weekly, sometimes daily.  Sometimes it's closed completely.  They're rebuilding the bridge over the highway, so the location of the exits changes frequently, too.  Right now, one is at an impossible angle, and I saw a miracle: a semi perched on the embankment after failing to make an impossible left turn onto the ramp.  A couple more feet, and it would have crashed onto the highway below.

Before the snow came, people drove like idiots even when things were clearishly marked by signs and lane painting and orange barrels.  Now that the snow is here and sometimes covers the road, I am not going to be taking that road anymore.  There are far too many idiots out there with drivers' licenses, and I don't want to meet them.

Sorry, Frost.  :)

25 November 2010

Why he stopped by the woods that snowy evening

Snow falling light and thick and beautiful
covering the layer of ice
bitterly cold but not windy
magical blue white dusk
I know why he stopped by the woods
the hypnotism of watching woods fill up with snow
I know

To shop or to hibernate

That is the question. 

"Guess where I'm NOT going to be on Black Friday?" I asked several people earlier this week.

The answer, in case you were wondering, is RetailEstablishement.  I think I spent the last 6 Black Fridays working there.  This year, I am free.  I don't care what kind of deals they have.  Unless every book is a dollar, I will not be there, especially not at some ridiculous hour of the morning.

Any store that opens stuper (super + stupid) early should not be rewarded for punishing its employees.  This is my theory.

I was planning a total hibernation day, but I discovered yesterday that I am very close to a Half-Price Books I haven't ever raided, and it's calling to me like a siren.  Their sale lasts until 10.  Before that, my resolve to avoid driving wavered when the local comic shop offered an extra discount and a charity donation event at the same time.  They have lots of drool-worthy out of print stuff.  I should avoid spending money on anything but paying down debt right now, but I do have a list of books I can't find anywhere else (even online) . . .

I really don't want to be on the road with these crazy Black Friday Warriors, but . . .

Are you planning any Black Friday outings?  Completed any?  Was it worth it?

20 November 2010

Why I like my physical therapist

The physical therapist looked back at the last two months of therapy and then said, apologetically, "If it were anyone else, after two months of therapy, most people would be at close to 100%.  But, since you're you, I'd give it another 8 months or so."

I looked at him mournfully and said, "You're supposed to say, 'Since you're special', not 'since you're you.'"

He laughed.  He's a good audience, as I have mentioned before.  It's not that he's unsympathetic; it's just that he's limped down this long road before.  Last time, he eventually gave up, but I kept doing his exercises, and, after 3 times the amount of time it would take for a normal human to be over a flareup of plantar fasciitis, I wasn't limping all the time.  From the PF, anyway.

There is something to be said about working with a therapist who knows how screwed up my body is right now: it's very nice.  "Your body just doesn't know how to fix itself right now," he said.  There is no frustration on his part with how slow my progress is even though I'm doing the ^*#&ing exercises.  (That means I don't have to sense his frustration and get more desperate or wonder if he believes me about doing the ^*#&ing exercises.)

Why I like my physical therapist:
  • No false sympathy.  When I first started, he told me to do as many of this particular exercise as I could before the pain made me stop.  I think I did 4.  I asked him how many I should be able to do, and he said, "Normally, people can do 30 at a time.  2 sets of 30.  I can see why you have a problem tossing beanbags with that hip.  It's kind of pathetic."  Ahhhhh, refreshing.  I also can't lawn bowl, but at least I was smart enough not to try after the Bean Bag Incident.
  • No false projections of how fast I should be able to do these things.  What he said after the first visit.  "I think you can get back to close to 100%.  It's going to take a long time, but you'll get better."  When I asked him his definition of a long time, he said without hesitating, "10 months."  What he said about the newest exercise: "2 sets of 20 is a goal.  That you should reach for."  ("Not that you should die for" was implied.)  I can sometimes do 30 of the first exercise; sometimes I can only do 12.  After 2 months.  Seriously.
  • Real concern.  Since he knows this is my life, sees how exhausted I am, and has heard what I'm up against, he does what he can.  Last time, he tried to understand the neurological chronic pain thing because he wanted so much for there to be something that could be done.  (He may also have just agreed that I am a menace behind the wheel when I haven't had any sleep and hoped there was an alternative.)
  • Not worrying about depression.  It's nice to have one health care professional (or just one adult, really) in my life who isn't waiting for me to get depressed.  Or maybe worried about me getting depressed would be a better way to phrase it.  I mean, not that I blame the others; there are plenty of reasons for me to get depressed.  I just don't have time.  My PT is a man who understands pain and gallows humor and doesn't get all Concerned. 
  • I can almost always make him laugh.  The power.  I really need to not do that when he's twisting me into pretzel shapes to get my hips back into alignment.  He could break me one of these times, and I'd feel bad if I made him do that . . .
"You're kind of a mess," he said.  "When some things are too tight, some are too loose, some are too strong, and others are too weak, it's just a big mess.  But we will sort everything out.  Eventually."

I believe him.

17 November 2010

Things I could watch for hours from inside

  • clouds
  • snow falling
  • ice forming on a lake
  • a dog and master romping in the snow
  • tree branches giving up their burdens of snow when they try to carry too much

13 November 2010

Things that hurt

Not sleeping
Getting up
Getting dressed
Driving to work
Work
Writing
Typing
Washing my hands
Drying my hands
Turning pages
Holding anything
Wearing gloves
Driving home from work
Getting a glass of water
Drinking a glass of water
Getting undressed
Lying in bed
Not sleeping

09 November 2010

When Wally is your cube neighbor

Two short ones about my dreadfully annoying cube-dweller next door.


He can't possibly be
looking forward to his vacation
as much as I am.

*

Enjoy this moment;
don't waste it wondering when
he'll come in today.


Yep.  You can find poetry anywhere.  :)

06 November 2010

31 October 2010

The Life You Save or Something Like It

I've been thinking about suicide lately.  Not in a way that should worry you.  I basically blame the Fray for being on every radio station all the time.

It's my normal radio station's yearly fundraiser, and I already give every month, and it's painful to listen to people try so hard, so I've been getting some variety in my commute.  These new radio experiments have yielded dubious results, such as the transition from "It's Raining Men" to "How to Save a Life."  Mind-melting, really.

Anyway, it made me think of a great song by the Newsboys called "Elle G" from their 1994 album Going Public.  I think I loved that song even before I knew what it was really about, before I realized the clever play on words, maybe even before that boy in my class committed suicide.  That was a rough year; several people I knew died of illnesses or accidents, but that was my first encounter with suicide.

"Elle G" somehow perfectly captures that gaping emptiness regret stamps into you even when you never did anything less than kind to the person who committed suicide.  It seems to capture that huge hole left behind in the people who really had a relationship with the person who took that premature exit.  It captures the way you miss the person, similar but altogether different from the way you miss people who die in some tragic accident.  It also captures a bit of the raging theological argument surrounding suicide in the church. 

Did you know that traditionally suicides weren't buried in the consecrated parts of the cemetery (along with mothers who died in childbirth)?  As if where you were buried had any bearing on your eternal destination.  My anger is for the people who thought it did and did their own preliminary division of sheep and goats that arrogantly.

I remember encountering this in the movie Luther; I think it was one of the things that really cheesed Martin Luther off.  It also seems to cheese the Newsboys off.  Normally, the Newsboys can be fun and twisted, sarcastic and constructively snarky about things in the church that cheese them off.  They put the spotlight on the stupid in clever but obvious ways (a la Steve Taylor, someone they worked with a lot in the early years). 

It's surprising, really, how gently they treat the issue in the song.  Oh, they wrestle with the anger of those left behind, but they plead with those who would condemn people who commit suicide by asking the simple question, "How can we return that which we never did earn?"  They talk the longing to see the person, ask them why, ask them what they could have done.  They grasp God's promise to overcome evil with good and acknowledge that they don't know the answer to any of these questions.  "We haven't a hope beyond Your grace," they say.  The song is a lament, full of pain, and it ends oddly, sort of inexplicably hopeful and with a sort of "It Is Well with My Soul" conviction in the wake of devastation.  (The story behind that hymn is pretty powerful, too.)

It's a beautiful and powerful elegy.  It gets stuck in my head every time I hear it, and it makes me think.  Not bad for a pop song.

26 October 2010

What I learned the day I visited the doctor's office

  • Road rage is good for me.  It seems to get my blood pressure up to something more normal and lower my usually ridiculous heart rate.  Who knew my contrariness went that far.  Go figure.
  • Book binges make my hip hurt, and I don't care.
  • Despite all my problems, I am darn healthy for someone in my situation.
  • Apparently, I strike the nurse as someone who would be a good teacher.  This makes me happy.

23 October 2010

Revenge of the bibliophile!

It is done!  I have finished organizing my little off-site library with the help of a most excellent and flexible friend who does indeed have upper body strength as a result of having a not-quite-two-year-old child.  Babies, boxes, she can lift them all!

Yeah, it makes me a bit giddy.  All scanned in and alphabetized and content in their little home where their dust can't make my lungs work any harder.  It's a nice feeling. 

Of course, I had to miss another group event I was really looking forward to, and I will be paying for the strain I put on my arms for days, but I was already bottoming out in the pain spiral, and it feels nice to finish something.  Very nice.

Now on to the next thing.

19 October 2010

Trying to do too much (never enough)

Maybe you can't
help them all, but
wouldn't you rather
be the child saving starfish
than the child stuck stopping
the flood with a finger?

16 October 2010

The joys of Facebook, part XXXII

What do you do when a high school sports coach who made your life miserable wants to be your friend on Facebook?  How surreal.

I was never openly hostile (unlike her), but I wonder what makes her think I would want to reestablish contact?  I mean, this is the woman who yelled at me when I would have asthma attacks from pushing myself too hard in practice.  "When you wheeze like that, it brings down the team!" she would tell me.  Of course, when I would stop before having an asthma attack, she would glare at me and say, "When people don't give their best, it brings down the team."  I really couldn't win.

My senior year was hilariously awful.  I was at a conference for a week over the summer, and they put me out in a non air conditioned dorm (even though I had requested one with AC because of my asthma and allergies).  I didn't want to make a fuss (that's the mantra that always leads to my downfall).  It devastated my health.

During volleyball season, I was so ridiculously ill it wasn't funny.  Bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, etc., all at the same time.  But when I started that season, I was the best hitter on the team.  Before I even started getting really sick, that coach stuck me as an off-side hitter.  Our setter couldn't backset to save her life, so I basically never got to hit.  I still served 98%, though, even when I was sick.

And that's . . . pretty much the only good memory from my senior year of volleyball.  My stats were good despite all her efforts and my illness.  She didn't even try to promote me in the district honors, so I only got honorable mention and didn't even get to play in the senior all star game.  (Not that I could have, by that time.  I couldn't breathe just sitting down, and I ended up on all kinds of fun asthma meds, including prednisone, which made me bruise all over my body and bleed from my ears and generally have reactions that made the doctor go, "Hm.  Stop taking that.  Now.")  She's one of those people in authority that just seemed to hate the kind of person I was, and there was nothing I could do about it but take her abuse and mistreatment and go on with my life.

So why wouldn't I want to be "friends" on Facebook?

To be fair, I probably would have passed out if it was the high school Varsity basketball coach who wanted to friend me on Facebook.  He was even worse.  Ever since I won that basketball for having the best free-throw percentage during camp when he bought it specifically for his daughter, he was really an excessive jerk.  (And that's on top of the wretched things he did to my older sister.  What did we ever do to tick this man off so badly?  Nothing, as far as we can tell.)

Lest you think I just never got along with coaches, I generally did.  Just not those two.  :)

12 October 2010

Why I'm glad week four is long over

Things I never expected when I agreed to teach a single online class

that I would have to put off cleaning and laundry and blogging and rest
that I wouldn't have access to my course until the students did
that the school would make so many assumptions that make my job difficult
that the logical resources a teacher needs would be missing, unavailable, not even considered
that a single class could add another 40 hours to my 40 hour work week
that I could get hoarse from dictating assignment feedback into my voice recognition software
that my left arm would hurt more
that my right arm would hurt a lot more
that I would sleep even less
that I would be even more afraid of what would happen if I get sick and lose my voice
that I would feel guilty for
  • stopping for gas and a car wash
  • getting physical therapy
  • spending 15 minutes in a used clothing store to replace a pair of pants that were destroyed
  • getting groceries
  • exercising
  • taking a shower
  • eating
  • going to the doctor
  • meeting with my church small group
(because I could've been using that time to grade)
that I would have to stop reading and writing for pleasure to teach reading and writing to unscreened students who are not ready for this class
that this format does not allow the students who need to learn the most what they need to learn
that I would hate teaching this way this much
that I would want so badly to fix the papers even knowing how much time it would take
that I would be happy when students ignored my repeated pleas to set up conferences to prevent them from failing
that this happiness could make me feel more guilty
that I would not be able to catch up even after a month
that I would be so bad at boundaries

09 October 2010

my perfect Saturday in October

I saw a fox today. 

It wasn't in my plans--as I made them Friday night--for my perfect Saturday in October.
  • Get up on time.
  • Do some grading.
  • Exercise.
  • Do some grading.
  • Lay outside reading The Left Hand of Darkness in the bright, approaching 80 degrees sunshine.
  • Do some grading.
  • Clean.
  • Do some grading.
  • Go to bed early.
Instead, my acupuncture lady called as I was grading Friday night to ask if I could move our appointment to Saturday morning, and I said yes, grumbling a little because it was wrecking my perfect Saturday plans.

On the way to her house, I drove on that winding, riverside road, and the trees
I can't tell you how beautiful they were
I'd never seen them like that before
not in the morning
not in the fall
not with my silly prescription sunglasses that make everything red look like it's on fire
and some of those maples have turned all to fire

And then, on my way back home, an honest to goodness fox streaked across the lawn and across the road in front of me and into the fiery brush by the river, and I don't know if it was a red fox, but my glasses made it look like the thing was a long, lithe streak of fire, and I thought, what is a fox doing around here? 

And I thought, thank you God for a fox around here. 

And I thought, even if I don't get my grading or cleaning done, even if I have a gash on my shin from running into something stupid last night when I lost my balance, even if I still don't get much sleep tonight, even if I don't do anything else on my list, this was a perfect Saturday in October, and 
I couldn't possibly ask for more.

05 October 2010

What I could learn from the leaves (and the trees)

They know when 
to give up, how to 
let go.  If only they 
could tell me "like 
this" and "now."

26 September 2010

Can I un-quit quitting? and other positively negative thoughts

I have never wanted to quit anything so much in my life as I want to quit teaching this class.  I took a sanity day off work this week (thank you for that advice, Mom), and I got a lot of things I'd been putting off done, and a few new things organized, but I am still so behind that it's making me crazy.

I simply can't catch up possibly because, when I signed up to teach a single class, I seriously did not expect to be putting 30-50 hours a week into a class.  I have a full time job already.  I can't do this.  At least, I can't do this and maintain my high expectations for myself, and if I can't maintain my expectations for myself, is it fair to demand them of my students?  I'm in this horrible moral quagmire, and if I don't figure out how to bend sanely, I will break myself.

I lost another student in my online class last week.

Thought 1: I have failed!
Thought 2:  Well, that's one less set of papers to grade.
Thought 3: I am a horrible person for Thought 2.
Thought 4: Lucky.  I want to quit, too.
Thought 5: And another $200 disappears . . .
Thought 6: It's a good thing this was never about money.

Not that I'm neurotic.  :)

In my thesis (or my spiritual autobiography, as my amazing advisor calls it), I talked about this inability to choose correctly when faced with situations where I can't tell if I should go on (because if I do, maybe I will learn valuable lessons).  I also talked about how easy it is for me to let things go, to quit things because there is an easier thing on hand that I love and enjoy even if it is a bit challenging.  I think I decided to quit quitting, and I am seriously regretting that decisions.

I chose this madness over singing?  Why?!  If I could go back to singing, even if it meant giving up this dream of being a teacher and using my gifts to help people learn, would I do it?  If I could do so without letting anyone (myself possibly included) down, YES!!!!!  In a heartbeat.  But is that the right thing to do?  I'm tired; I've no time or inclination for hard questions.  I have three assignments to grade from last week and five more coming up this week.  I hate this, and it isn't fun anymore.

A person once said that it is always good to have misfortunate friends around because they always show you how much worse it could be.  I'm happy to be of use to you, my friends.  :) 

Also, so you don't think I'm totally negative, I AM SO GLAD NOT TO BE WORKING AT RETAILESTABLISHMENT DURING ALL THIS!!!!!!  Wait, that was negative.  But in a positive way.  Um, how about, I am so glad I have the regular job I have now!  That's true, too.

21 September 2010

the sort of person who

I am the sort of person who can
use the words "anal-retentive"
and "systematic theology" in
the same sentence.

18 September 2010

Drive with us (verrrrryyy slooooooowlyyy)

On the river parkway, I saw a raccoon trying desperately to stuff itself down a storm drain to avoid the early evening traffic "speeding" toward it.  I was part of a parade at the time, you know, the sort where one car's driver sees the 25 miles per hour speed limit sign and becomes convinced that if he or she approaches within 10 miles of the speed limit (as in, 15 m.p.h), his or her car will explode or be strafed by speeding cop firebombs or suddenly find that part of the road turns 90 degrees or something.

I started humming the theme song to The Racoons.  Did they ever release that cartoon on DVD?  Yes, yes they did, and I am not going to pay that much for a used copy, holy moly.  Maybe this is a job for Netflix.

It had the most ridiculous and awesome ending theme song.  It was called "Run with Us."  I bet the raccoon could have run with us and kept up.  It really had nothing to fear as we all drove at a leisurely pace all along the river road for five miles, trapped behind the parade leader, unable to get to our destinations by any alternate route.

At least it wasn't a bicycle rider this time.

See?  I can think positive.  :)

14 September 2010

an autumn poem in summer

Fall

fell 
early this year
leaves turning 
in August and September
days that feel
like the best
November
days to
come

10 September 2010

It's ALIVE!!!!

So, once again I dropped out of sight.  In honor of my first anniversary of blogging, my computer died.  Eventually a kind friend resuscitated it, and now I am almost caught up enough to get back to blogging.  So you'll likely hear from me for real this weekend.  Until then . . .

25 August 2010

Sports memories (sans cats)

They're having a softball tournament at work.  I got all excited and marked it with a follow-up flag.  Three girls have to be on the field at all times!  I don't think our department could have a team because we're 95% female.  Maybe someone else knows of a team that needs another girl!

Oh. 
I can't play anymore. 

I forgot.

I still remember a time when I could not imagine living without softball and volleyball.  I remember when I wanted to be the old person out there playing.  I wanted to be like my dad: the oldest person on the team and still capable of contributing.  I remember thinking that nothing could stop me.

I think I hear cats singing something about memories.  (But weren't those cats supposed to be old and rickety?)  Ah, well . . .

I wonder if there are softball tournaments in heaven.  Guess I'll find out when I get there.

22 August 2010

My crazy bunny is still alive!

I saw it for the third time: my crazy little bunny.  (It may not even be the same one, but how many weird little bunnies could there be in that small area?)  It was once again darting out in broad daylight near rush hour traffic. 

The first time I saw him, I was sitting in the afternoon rush waiting to get onto a highway.  A tiny creature crawled out onto the sidewalk and promptly fell over.  It was kind of like a kitten wanting to play, only it was a rabbit, there was no one there to play with it, it was broad daylight, and wild bunnies don't usually do that.

The week after that, I was exiting that same highway, and the dumb critter ran out onto the ramp and hopped around a bit through the morning rush hour traffic before staggering off into the brush again.

Someone suggested distemper or perhaps a nice supply of fermenting fruit somewhere . . .

Anyway, I worry about the poor, strange little thing.  It's nice to see that (somehow) it's still alive.

17 August 2010

Goldfish on the carpet and other amusing aftermaths

Does anyone have any advice about how to get ground up goldfish out of your carpet when the vacuum just doesn't get the job done? 

I should mention that I mean little cheese-flavored crackers, not, you know, real goldfish.  And I think they weren't even Goldfish, technically.  They were a generic kind of snack cracker most definitely NOT shaped like the Trademarked Goldfish.  Not that you can tell now . . . :)

14 August 2010

two thoughts on August

The thing
I hate
about August
is those days
when the low
is so high
if I want to bask
I just fry.

The thing
I love
about August
is cicadas
screaming loudly
with joy
despite life's
brevity.

10 August 2010

College Prep in Elementary School?

I recently received a postcard in the mail that made me wonder how on earth I got onto that mailing list.  It was for a college prep elementary school.  I am not making this up.  My initial reaction was, "Seriously?" 

I mean, I've always been a total brainy nerd, and in elementary school, I had no idea our school was, like, three grade levels above the average, and I had a wonderful time there.  But I think it would be different if the school's name and purpose was aiming for top college placement from Kindergarten.  It's almost Japanese . . .

Would you have enjoyed a highly competitive elementary school?  Did you ever wish your elementary school did more to make you college ready?  What was your school like?  Did you enjoy it?

07 August 2010

Feeling lucky to be on the other side for now

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 30.6% of workers with a disability lived in poverty in 2006, compared to 9.2% of workers with no disability."

I came across that fact and wondered what the numbers looked like in, say, 2009.

I am feeling very relieved not to be in that nearly 31% anymore, but I also want to do something to help the people those number represent, which I suspect has grown with the recession.  I wonder if I'll ever have the energy to try.

03 August 2010

Priorities: rearranging a life

I just got offered a class to teach at a local university, and I find myself suddenly faced with a priority crunch. 

I was going to audition for a singing group that rehearses Monday nights.  Tuesday nights, I have a writing group.  Wednesday nights I lead a small group from church.  Thursday night is when the anime club I belong to meets.  Friday night through Saturday night, I clean and collapse.  Sunday is two flavors of church and  sometimes a writing group and spending time with a friend.  There is no way I can do all that, handle a new full time job, and juggle a part-time job on top of that.

I am inclined to just scrap it all and focus on the jobs this semester. 
  • M: I haven't auditioned yet, but even if I do, I might not make it, so maybe I should table this one for now.  Or maybe I should go for it and pray that if it's a bad idea, I won't get in.  Will I be in any shape to audition next year?  Probably not after a whole year off, but there's no way I can fit the a cappella choir I've sung with for the past six years into the new job schedule in the first six months. 
  • T: I've been having trouble getting people to show up to the writing group, and I was only really doing it to force myself to do research on publishing, which I don't really care about, because if I don't have teaching experience, I need some pieces published to potentially get hired, which I already am, so this is something I don't need to torture myself with anymore. 
  • W: My small group wants to meet on another night, so this could be a good time to disengage from that commitment. 
  • Th: I don't NEED the anime club, and they don't need me since I really don't contribute much of anything (hooray for passive entertainment), but I do enjoy watching things on a big screen and not being required to be in charge. 
On the other hand, in college I learned that you should start out with way more than you can handle, and you can whittle down as you go, deciding what's important.  Of course, I don't have that youthful energy anymore to keep it up for a whole quarter before disengaging . . .

How do you prioritize?  Do you have any advice on what I should sacrifice and what I might want to consider keeping?

31 July 2010

More cleaning

Soon my cave will be clean and functional once again.  I have 6 fewer bookshelves in my 385 square foot palace, which should reduce book dust and dampen my allergies.  I'm just filing away and tidying up the last bits.  I have an attack plan for the final day, which involves going to a laundry place that is apparently out of this world to wash my comforter for the first time in . . . too long and some other tasks that will allow me to have completely open floor space and a clean couch. 

I have decided the kitchen and bathroom will be separate projects for later in the week, so I can feel a sense of accomplishment about completing this 47 step project. 

Today, I left the cave only to exercise, do laundry, and bask in the sun while reading a nicely creepy book.  If cleaning is good for the soul, I think my soul will be healthier after this week.

What are your thoughts on cleaning/rearranging?

29 July 2010

Why my mom doesn't like it that I live in the big city

Today, for the first time, I was menaced with a gun. It was hours ago, but I'm still kind of jittery.

It happened at one of my least favorite kinds of traffic nightmares in the city, where an access road that feeds onto an interstate intersects with the interstate exit less than 100 yards from a stoplight where, if you're on the access road and you need to turn left, you have to get across several lanes in a very short time, and it's particularly trying during rush hour.

I let a couple of slightly hysterical drivers getting off the interstate go ahead of me to get over to the right lane, which left me with even less space to get over to the left, so I was going to go for it when I saw a motorcycle flying up the exit ramp. He nearly ran into me, but we avoided a collision because I was paying attention and God was watching over me (and if there are guardian angels, I really hope mine gets some sort of hazard bonus or a lot of vacation time).

I obligingly stopped, so he could get over, since he seemed in much more of a hurry than I was, and he was kind of wild and scary looking with his longish, matted ginger, helmet-less hair blown all over the place. He pulled his motorcycle to within inches of my left front bumper, blocking my exit, and pulled back his vest slowly, deliberately, and a tad theatrically to show me that he had a gun and he was not afraid to use it.

We sat like this for several moments while he glared at me and basked in whatever feeling of power it gave him to threaten a lone woman in a car with a gun for causing him to pay attention and slow down a bit before he remembered that he had somewhere to be in a hurry and pulled away.  I was not particularly comforted by the fact that there was a police station three blocks away. Obviously that fact didn't bother him.

It was kind of scary. I thank God it wasn't any worse.

I'm afraid I may be even less favorably inclined towards motorcyclists now. My apologies to those of you who drive sanely and are law-abiding citizens who don't threaten people with guns.

On a more positive note, the great book migration is mostly over, and we should once again be back to regularly scheduled blog posting here every Tuesday and Saturday.

20 July 2010

Adventures in cubeville

Why Your HR Person Is Not a Tech Writer

Directions given: Once you get to HR, take a right and then another right, and I'm there on the right.
Actual directions: Get to HR, take a right, two straights, another right, a straight, and then a left, and it's there on the right.

And then when you finally find the place, you find out that your disability nightmare isn't really over yet.  Oh, dear . . .  At least the HR person wasn't Catbert.

18 July 2010

Chuck and the moving marathon

Some good storms yesterday woohoo.  Not a good time to be on a computer . . .

I've been having a Chuck moving marathon as I prepare to transfer my library offsite (not into some poor schmuk's head).  It's been fun to have that show playing as I catalog and plan and organize fiddly things.  It's funny and goofy and moving and tense and really just fabulous entertainment.  Did anyone laugh really hard and feel warm nostalgia fuzzies from Quantum Leap when Scott Bakula said, "Oh, boy"?

The retail bits are still funny to me after my time in the retail trenches.  I particularly identify with the frustration of Chuck (and his family) as he does his job well, fends off idiotic management, and feels the accute squandering of his potential.  Chuck has (a la Miles Vorkosigan) lost all forward momentum, in his case because all his dreams came crashing down when the person he thought was his best friends framed him for cheating and got him kicked out of college just a semester shy of graduating.

My story wasn't nearly that dramatic, and I was getting a master's degree during my tour in retail, but my injury and subsequent crippling and increasing physical difficulty with doing the thing I wanted to do (write) . . .  Well, yeah, I really identify with Chuck.  Not, of course, the death-defying spy shenanigans, but, you know, basically, I do feel strongly connected. 

SPOILER

I kind of wish his quitting scene had been more glorious.  And that he had another job lined up because that would have been more responsible, but that sweet freedom of leaving retail . . .  Ah, smell the possibilities in the air.

/SPOILER

So I really get a kick out of the show.  It works on a lot of levels and has a lot going for it.  Season 3 has a DVD release date now, and I'm looking forward to it (with lowered expectations due to what might prove to be a less enjoyable first half as Chuck does some dumb stuff [the fan reaction reminds me of the reaction to the Harry Potter book where Harry spend a lot of time behaving like a teenager]) and trying not to drool in consumerist frenzy.  Trying really hard.  Is September here yet?

13 July 2010

This week in giddiness

Things that are nice at work:
  • Parking ramp right next to my building: do you know how lovely it is to go to your car after work in the summer and get in and not be baked?
  • Hot chocolate: I may have mentioned this a few dozen times.  Free hot chocolate (the good kind).
  • A cube in a nicely laid out place where I can see natural light above my cube even though I am not near a window.
  • Nice co-workers who do not mind me being neurotic.
  • Competent, kind bosses who tell me that they hired me fully knowing I had no experience and are thus not waiting to smite me when I display my lack of experience, who tell me that they hired me because I had the skills and they believe I will be great, who say things like, "We go over this at least three times a year, so there are no surprises at performance review time.  Nobody likes to have something negative just dumped on them in a performance review."
  • Trees: our campus is so full of trees that even when you are walking in an enclosed tunnel, you look out and see birds and dragonflies and trees and clouds and the sky and stuff while you are not baking.
  • Going there does not make me miserable (confused, yes, but we'll take that over miserable any day).

10 July 2010

If you're happy for other people and you know it/them, buy their stuff

Isn't it funny how excited we get when people we know get famous or recognized or well-known?  It's not like we did anything, but we're so happy and excited that we want to tell everyone, "Hey, I know this person!  You should support them by buying their stuff!"

Just today I found out that an upperclassman I had a little interaction with in college published a book this year.  I wanted to buy it sight unseen just to support him.  (It's actually an interesting topic to me, though, so it's not like I'd be wasting money.)  I'd been keeping an eye on his career at one of the major publications in our area of interest, and I cheered when he got to write big articles, when he won an award, and now when he has an ISBN number!  I'm just so happy for him!

A band with a few members I went to high school with has a new single that's been getting a lot of airplay on the two radio stations that play their music in my area.  This is exciting because it's rare for their music to have serious cross-over appeal on both adult contemporary and rock stations. It's great because there's a xylophone involved.  It's also exciting because the music video is much less cringe-worthy than some of their others.  :)

I am very happy every time one of their songs comes on.  (It did get a little ridiculous the week I heard them played 27 times in one week [the record was the day I heard them 5 times in a 24 hour period when I was only in the car listening to the radio for a total of one hour].)

I bought trade magazines when they had features on the band.  I got ridiculously excited when I saw a guy wearing one of their t-shirts at my retail store far away from their main original fan-base in Ohio.  I was all smiles the day I read some really positive professional critic reviews online.  I bought their albums before I even heard any songs off them because I wanted to support my former classmates, and I was really pleased with their third album (my favorite so far), but I liked that one so much I haven't spent much time with #4, and #5 just came out this year, so I'll have to give those some serious consideration soon.

Piece of trivia: the lead vocalist started out as the drummer and was teaching himself/learning the piano by the time we were seniors because he was so serious about the band.

Did I mention it makes me giddy when I hear them on the radio.  :)

I like it when people work hard and get rewarded.  I like to rejoice with people.  

Am I the only one who gets excited like this?

06 July 2010

Tea gets in your eyes . . .

You know you're in sad shape when tea brings you to tears.  Well, that's not really fair; the tea just made me get a little choked up, but it was the hot chocolate that really made me cry.  My favorite kind (except with marshmallows, but essentially the same thing).  And coffee.  And four kinds of creamer.  Stir sticks.  (Also a working microwave, a cleanish fridge, 9 kinds of tea, 2 of which I actually kind of like.  A sink and actual dish soap.)  All freely provided and restocked daily by my new employer. (Okay, well, not the fridge, but it's there so I can put stuff in it.)

It's just the sort of thing you do when you care about your employees and want them to be happy and comfortable and hydrated.  And it's so very different from my last employer that I just kind of welled up. I'm glad no one was looking.  How would I explain why I was laughing and crying at the same time. . . ?

05 July 2010

A productive weekend by the numbers

I had a nice holiday weekend.  I really like the sound of that.  I got paid for not being at work.  It's kind of novel, and I plan to enjoy how much laundry I was able to 1) get done and 2) afford to do.  It's the simple things in life.

Also this weekend:
  • 0 mosquito bites
  • 1 dead computer resurrected but broken in the process
  • 1 afternoon in a pool floating around doing absolutely nothing (okay, maybe talking a bit of literature, but that was it)
  • 1 ouchie on my elbow from the edge of the pool (which = 0 short sleeved shirts for the next couple of weeks, somehow)
  • 1 eagle spotted from the car
  • 1 reorganized house plan
  • 1 blue screen of death
  • 1 baby who did not get sick after being around me
  • 1 good friend who just moved to the area to kibbitz with
  • 2 new charities I can afford to give to so far
  • 2 lovely, sprawling gardens to rest in
  • 2 kind families who invited me over for a day even though they don't know me from Adam
  • 3 discs of MacGyver season one playing in the background while I worked on my budget and tried to catch up on weeks of dead computer email
  • 3 essay ideas I'm drafting
  • 4 episodes of Chuck playing in the background while I cleaned and organized things
  • 5 more clearance items on ridiculous sale, hopefully fulfilling my shopping quotient for the next couple of years
  • 5 hours driving in the car
  • 6 ancient pairs of shoes I will give to charity because I can't wear them with my smashed foot ('04)
  • 7 pairs of shoes that died years ago (some back in the early 90s) that I hung onto for sentimental reasons despite the holes and my inability to wear them because of my smashed foot 
  • 8 books read (all manga)
  • X loads of laundry (I should go get that last one out before I forget)
  • (approximately) 25 times I almost drove off the road due to gawking at the landscape
  • 1 partridge in a pear tree (not really)
Ahhhhh, refreshing.

28 June 2010

26 June 2010

So, this new job - when do I get to feel like it's real?

After I get the email with the start date details that shows the background check is finished?
After my first day?
After my first paycheck?

I've got to figure out how to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. If it's going to fall, it will fall. I don't need to stress out waiting for it. Sheesh.

(Have you ever felt like this?)

15 June 2010

13 June 2010

Attack of the R.O.U.S.

You know the R.O.U.S. in Princess Bride?  I was coming home very late one night after work and barely keeping it together as a driver when I saw one.  I was on the last road to my home, and I was really spacing, admiring the stars and the darkness.  I scolded myself awake with the threat that if a lovely deer stepped out into the road near the railroad tracks I cross 50 yards from home, I wouldn't be alert enough to stop in time before the majestic deer or my car became distinctly unlovely very fast. 

Lo, and behold, a creature did appear and cause me to slam on the breaks, but it was nothing graceful like a deer.  It was quite possibly the largest opossum I have ever seen, and watching that thing waddle/lope/lumber across the road gave me an unpleasant flashback to the movie Princess Bride (which you should see if you haven't already seen it but do possess a sense of humor and have nothing against fantasy). (The bookis good, too.)

Luckily, nothing dropped onto the roof from above or bit me, so I was okay.  If something as big as that critter had fallen onto my car, it would have killed me, since the top of my head is 1.23" from the roof.  Also, there were no quicksand pits.  A successful day, all in all.

08 June 2010

Cell Phone satire

I didn't notice that the post "Do You Find People Annoyed by Cell Phone Users Annoying?" was labeled "File Under: Satire Seriously" until someone in a comment mentioned that it was so.  I was, however, 99% sure that this rant was in a non-serious, humorous vein by the end of the post itself.  Unfortunately, it seems like some of the commenters never reached that conclusion.  I wanted to give you the heads up, so you can enjoy it in the spirit it was meant to be conveyed.  Also, be sure to read some of those comments from people who feel entitled to use their cell phones in an annoying manner in public.  Unintentionally hilarious.

So funny.  Donald Miller writes as someone who rudely uses a cell phone in public and blames the others around him for being selfish and insensitive for being annoyed at him for these behaviors.  I think we've all met the people who think this way and aren't being sarcastic about it.  Sigh. 

I can't even tell you how infuriating this can be when you work in retail.  There are several satisfying suggestions on how to deal with the situation in Pretending You Care: A Retail Handbook, but recently, I've been able to keep my blood pressure under control by just telling myself they were raised by wolves and have just been reintroduced to society or something.  I try not to think about how they ignore the questions I'm required to ask and thus move me closer to being fired because, obviously, they don't care enough about the people around them to, well, care.

Do you have any enraging or just irritating public cell phone menace stories?

06 June 2010

Night racing

Can someone explain why people scream down the highway late at night racing each other?  They make an unbelievable racket and sometimes wake me out of a lovely temporary sleep at, like, 3 in the morning.  Don't they go deaf being that close to that much noise? 

At least they don't do it when the roads are wet, which is another reason to love thunderstorms and rain.  As if I needed another reason for that.  :)

01 June 2010

A little allergy-inspired poem

Sometimes it's hard to tell
whether it's dandelions or
cottonwoods drifting
until you sneeze.

29 May 2010

Treasuring the waiting

In the past when I've done job interviews, I've generally had a good time, and so have the interviewers.  Then they feel awful when they can't hire me.  They call me on the phone and just sound wretched about how they liked me best, but they have to hire this horrible person with ten years more experience.  That will probably happen this time, too, which makes me sad.

My favorite story about that was this time I interviewed for an internship at a big company, got that exact phone call, and later, when I was at the annual conference for my professional organization, they saw me from across the room and very non-subtly tried to stay on the far side of the room from me during the entire reception.  It was kind of flattering and mostly hilarious.  Eventually, I actually bumped into one of them (totally by accident), and she just looked mortally embarrassed, like she wanted to grovel and beg my forgiveness for not hiring me.  "We all really wanted to work with you," she said mournfully.  "We were so sorry they wouldn't let us have you."

That made two of us.  Soft skills being more valuable than hard skills my ear.  It all worked out later during the conference when I finally managed to secure a kind of crappy internship at a small company where micromanagement was not a problem, and I got to make a website from scratch all by myself.  It was located near where my older sister lived, so I was also able to live with and make awkward attempts to connect with my sort-of-estranged older sister the summer before she got married.

I wonder if the people I interviewed with will be that disappointed if they don't hire me this time.  I almost brought one of them to tears just during the interview.  (Accidentally, I swear; I was just wrapped up in this one story I was telling that had a kind of sweet ending, and I got a tad emotional, and is it a good sign if they say, "That was a really nice story" and "I had no idea what we were going to talk about for an hour, but the time just  went past and was over" at a big corporate job interview?)  I'll certainly cry if I don't get the job, but we'll burn that bridge if we come to it.

I thought I'd already learned the lesson about how sometimes your best isn't good enough, but I still don't want to learn it again.  I'm kind of treasuring the waiting right now because not knowing NO is better than knowing it.

Ever been in that situation: where the waiting is painful but still seems better than finding out for sure that you've failed?

28 May 2010

What I did the day after my interviews of doom

It was a nice day.
  • Exercised with some good books.
  • Had some juice.
  • Folded clothes, did laundry, dusted, vacuumed.
  • Basked in the sun reading another good book and ignoring the sidelong glances from other people in the courtyard as they tried to figure out what form of domestic violence could possibly result in the horrible swelling and bruising on my back and the resulting stiffness in my movements. (Even if the skin looks like this, I figure it can still get happy from the sun, right?)
  • Did not obsessively deconstruct the interviews because I did that yesterday.
  • Cut my fingernails!!!!!
  • Had a sandwich and some milk.
  • Caught up on email tasks I had been putting off prepping for the interview.
  • Wrote thank you follow-up letters to my interviewers.
  • Put lotion on my incipient and ridiculous sunburn. (I was only out for 4 chapters!  I swear!)
  • Had some ramen and peas.
  • Watched some DVDs.
  • Wrote some blog posts.
  • Put more lotion on the sunburn, admiring its randomness.
  • Went to bed.
  • Got out of bed when the fire alarm went off and staggered outside and shivered and coughed (and read) for a long time before I was allowed back into the apartment building where I went back to bed.

Ahhhhh. Refreshing.

22 May 2010

It hailed today

I have now spent over 30 hours researching for this job interview.  I have read several books.  I have talked to wise people without getting totally neurotic and annoying.  I have researched strategies for answering questions and looked at thousands of questions.  I have made plans.  I will write stories to tell in answer to questions.  I have lots of people praying for me.  If this job was awarded to the person who did the most homework, I would get it.  If it was awarded based on financial need, I would get it.  If it was given to the person who wanted it most, I would get it.

I am unlikely to get this job.

My most helpful inside resource told me he hopes that the interviewers see me as the winsome underdog.  He did not have to finish by adding that there's no other way I'll get it (the four times he started a sentence with, "If you don't get this job, I have some ideas," kind of sufficiently filled in the blank.

I should be discouraged.  I should be giving up on the other ten hours of prep I'm planning on doing before the big interviews.  I should feel done, defeated, beaten.

But I'm not stopping.

Is this peace that passes understanding?  It doesn't feel like secret foreknowledge or anything.  It's not really confidence, either.  It's partly my innate stubbornness and love of a challenge.  Don't tell me I can't, because I'll want to even more was never really a mindset I struggled with as a child.  (Except where tree climbing was concerned.)

Maybe this last push will be the thing that sends me over the top.  Maybe these last hours of effort and attention and work will be necessary for success.  I'm desperate; it's true.  I'm in a bad situation (nothing new).  I'd hate to give up before giving everything I possibly can. 

The rest is up to God.

18 May 2010

Slice of paradise in the city

I sat outside in someone's backyard yesterday watching the clouds drift as the sun faded away. 

It was a little bit of paradise in a slightly scary neighborhood.  You'd never have known it was there, but once you went up all the stairs and around to the back, it was beautiful. 

A tall deck with impossibly comfy chairs and in the tiny yard below a firepit and a rock garden with a tiny waterfall.  Lots of little lamps and a pine tree and hedges all around.  I got to hang out with some friends and meet some new people.  Poetry was read.  A small boy told jokes.  Birds made all kinds of noise.  There was root beer. 

It was glorious. 

15 May 2010

hearing/listening

I have some hearing loss in my left ear.  It's probably temporary and is caused by fluid buildup related to sticking valves in ears and generally bad sinus drainage in my head exacerbated by my allergies to the environment.  It can't really be fixed without surgery that will only temporarily alleviate the problem and could introduce more, so I've pretty much accustomed myself to the fact that I can't hear people coming from that side and can't always understand what they're saying if that side is facing them.

The acupuncturist told me to listen to my body, to pay attention to how it reacted after the first treatment.  (And, wow, did it ever react.)  She asked me for specifics, and I couldn't really give them at first.  "I'm sorry," I apologized, "but I'm just not used to listening to my body.  Mostly all it tells me is pain pain pain discomfort, and those aren't useful things, so I've gotten used to ignoring them as best as I can since there isn't anything I can do to fix them."

The next week, she said, "I've been thinking about that since you mentioned it last week, and I wonder if the two aren't connected."

I wonder, too.  The body is a terribly complicated creation, and it's interconnected in ways good doctors will admit we don't know enough about.  One problem can cause others that cause others, and they are all connected, but if you hurt yourself at work, you aren't allowed to be treated as a whole human being.  You can only be treated for that specific injury, as if the injury is to a single Lego block and not a complex, interdependent system.

Mind-body problems indeed.

So I'm working on listening to myself and others.  Not much positive progress yet, but we're giving it the old college try.

In other news, today was kind of a perfect day weather-wise.  Not that I was out in it because cottonwoods and work kept me indoors, but the walk to the car after work was just lovely . . .

11 May 2010

Spring cleaning Part III: Revenge of the Mags

This week's injury was improbably sustained when I apparently tried to walk through a magazine holder.  In my defense, I was trying to avoid the pillows I was airing out.  In my prosecution, I'm not sure why I was giving the soft objects such a wide berth . . .

I'm whittling away at the piles and files around the room.  Since I've applied absolutely everywhere I could for jobs, and there are no new opportunities, I have had two days to clean and do things on my backlog list of things to do.  I feel a little guilty, but I'm getting so much done.  One more day ought to get all my files from graduate school back into tip-top shape (they got out of order as I was cannibalizing them for my thesis).

I even submitted something to another impossible magazine today.  NOTE TO SELF: Email to find out if they accept simultaneous submissions.

Now I'm just cleaning and catching up and waiting for someone to call me back about an interview, trying not to prematurely despair about what it means that they haven't called yet, trying to decide if I should just make my travel plans anyway, trying not to forget all the research I did on the company and the questions I want to ask, trying to enjoy this time now to organize and be calmish.

And icing my foot.  Because what if they call, and I set up an interview, and my foot's too swollen to fit in my dress shoe?!

:)

08 May 2010

The waiting game

So, I'm waiting on this phone interview that was supposed to happen.  I got up early just in case they called when normal people start their work days.  I kept checking my phone in agony (what if I missed it?!?!?!?!) and then being heartbroken when the call still hadn't come.  Alternately sweating and freezing, I would wonder if they liked my resume or if they hated it and that's why they weren't calling.  Did I do something wrong, something to make them not like me?!  Why weren't they calling?!?!?!  Oh, the humanity!

Is this what it's like to be waiting for a call from someone you have a crush on?

If I ever made fun of anyone waiting for a call from their crush, I apologize.

05 May 2010

Do you love a good job interview?

One reason I enjoy job interviews (yes, I'm a freak) is that, at the good ones, I always learn something about myself, in addition to learning things about the job.  At my second interview the other day, I finally figured out one of the reasons why I really want to teach college composition instead of the creative writing classes all people like me are supposed to want to teach.  Comp is one of the few interdisciplinary classes first-year students take, and I love interdisciplinary stuff.

Comp isn't interdisciplinary in the same way as a class that teaches, say,  history, art, and philosophy at the same time, showing students how the three happened in relation to each other.  It's more like comp is an interdisciplinary tool to teach people how to observe, analyze, and communicate no matter what discipline they're in.  Anyway, I figured that out during the interview, so it was a worthwhile interview in my book.  :)

Have you ever learned anything unexpected about yourself during a job interview?

30 April 2010

How to break a finger

I may have broken a finger pumping gas.  Yep.  I'm magical.  I'm sure it will be fine. 

This week has been difficult, with its combination punches of potential elation dashed and crushingly demoralizing "performance reviews" at work and that pesky hope springing eternal when the ceiling is really low.

In other news, yesterday, it didn't rain until the sun came out, and I thought that seemed deep and significant.  Somehow.  Today we had gorgeous grayscale watercolor wash skies and brilliant sun coming out every so often to paint the trees a disturbing shade of yellow.  I would rather think about light than about darkness, but it's hard when there's so much darkness and so little light.

Thank God for books.  Other people's triumphs will do in a pinch.  :)

Have you ever injured yourself in a weird way?

27 April 2010

In answer to some questions about acupuncture

Some questions were raised about acupuncture after my last post on it, so I decided to "explain" what I know about it, which is little.  It was recommended by my best doctor a while ago, but I couldn't go until the government finished putzing around and gave up all responsibility on me.  By then (now), so much in my body was (is) screwed up directly and indirectly from that simple injury 7 years ago that I'm not stepping on insurance toes by seeing an acupuncturist.  Hooray.  :)

I think the theory behind acupuncture is about balance and imbalance, flow and blockage of energy channels in the body.  Needles stimulate certain point in the dermal layer that correspond with certain organs and muscles and illnesses and stuff and try to re-establish the correct balance.

I am familiar with imbalance, crookedness, and crippledness.  I would like to try balance again, and if this is one way to re-establish it, bring it on.  I have no pre-conceptions, really, so whatever improves (or doesn't) won't be because of positive thinking or negative thinking.  I'm just trying to be open to whatever happens.

Any questions or concerns?

24 April 2010

Spring Cleaning Is Good for the Soul

All 385 square feet that I can reach are clean(ish).  This pleases me. 

We will ignore the piles of work in progress because they are in progress and not stagnant pools of filth like this snud I photographed last month. 

We will instead focus on our reorganized closets and dusted and vacuumed living space, our slightly-more-sparkling bathroom and our extremely clean stove-and-counter-tops.

Ahhhhhhh.  Refreshing.

19 April 2010

Just to let you know I'm still alive

Well, that was a bit of a blog break.  I had some last minute job applications that suddenly came my way and needed to be completed, and the only thing I could steal time from was blogging.  I apologize.

So, I'll be honest: acupuncture hurts.  Those people who tell you it doesn't are lying or perhaps experiencing more nerve problems than I am.  Or maybe they mean "It's nothing to cry over" when they say "It doesn't hurt at all." 

It's not constant pain or anything.  It's normal for it to hurt for less than 30 seconds, which was true for me except in the very worst places that are so sore from hurting for so long that I don't think they can transmit any response but pain.  Hoping that will change.

The acupuncture lady said quite seriously that I was kind of a mess, which I found endearing.  She also said, "For what you've been through, you seem remarkably . . . sane."  (I especially liked the ellipsis, which you could actually hear. :)

What sanity I still possess is thanks to God, my family, and you.  So thanks.

14 April 2010

Now for something completely different

This Saturday, I'm going to see an acupuncturist.  This is really on the advice of my mother who has been doing research.  Western medicine had seven years to help me, as did my Federal Government, but they failed big time.  Let's give some other alternatives a try.

As a bonus, the only actually certified doctor who is also covered by my insurance happens to be female and a Christian.  What an interesting coincidence . . . :)

12 April 2010

Why you should give Tiny Art Director a moment of your time

I know this is book-related and should thus be on my reading and writing blog, but Tiny Art Director is also a blog, so it counts.  And it also led me to a great idea for a blog or a journal (Things I finished: To help myself remember how I felt about various things that I finished).

So Tiny Art Director is hilarious and cute.  Bill Zeman is the father (an artist) who takes "commissions" from his daughter (The Tiny Art Director [TAD]) who then accepts or rejects them often with commentary.  Sometimes highly amusing commentary that could only come from the toddler dimension . . .

The book is taken from earlier blog posts when Zeman's daughter (now 5) was 2.  It amused me that there were so many requests for blood and death and violence, but it also worried me.  Apparently, Mr. Zeman was worried, too, because he put in a note where he talks about it and about how he found out that such bloodthirstiness is perfectly normal in kids.  No less disturbing, I must admit, but apparently normal.

Why this is a better-than-average blog-to-book collection: We need more tenderness in the world, and there's something very tender about this unique way of spending time getting to know your child as she grows up.  The blog and book are not simply gimmicks but are amusing and touching in an honest way.  I think Tiny Art Director is worth your time.  (So does this famous guy at this famous site.)

08 April 2010

Give yourself a chance to fail!

I'm pretty embarrassed when I go back to look at my first teaching applications.  I had good ideas about how to write a cover letter or organize a resume, but I hadn't developed an ability to say things concisely.

Of course, since I still haven't even had a real interview, I can't say I'm anything near an expert, but I blame the content of my resume and lack of teaching experience for those things.  I'm still open to revising my resume and cover letters (each one is personalized), but I have basic templates.

I needed to let myself stumble around failing for a while before I could develop the ability to create these documents successfully.  As I mentioned, getting a job is another thing entirely, but now I can't blame it on clumsy formatting.  :)  Whether this is good or bad, I'm not sure . . .

All this to say: as an adult, I recommend that you be willing to fail at new things, so you can develop new competencies.  We often resist trying new things because we're afraid (correctly) that we'll fail.  Being that afraid of failure means we'll never get to experience success or competence, either.  I hope I will eventually . . .

06 April 2010

The joy of rejection

I never thought I'd be so happy about rejection, but after a couple years of apparently sending off applications into a black hole, I've finally gotten responses.  They were, of course, negative, but I really will take what I can get.  Outright rejection means I don't have to waste hope on fantasies.

I could be in a slightly negative frame of mind because in the last week, I went sleepless for 3 or 4 nights (I really can't remember), and my arm is twitching and hurting and getting tingly and generally being a huge nuisance.  I'm getting all clumsy and taking micronaps (where your brain just shuts down for a few seconds even though you're up and around and conscious) and stressing out about being a hazard.  The good news is that sleep-deprived people who can't sleep are not likely to actually cause nearly as many accidents as they think they will because the chance of them actually falling asleep at the wheel is low.  See, another positive fact.

Also, the magnolias are blooming.  And a single tulip.  Yay.

04 April 2010

Who paints a bathroom these colors?

They re-painted the exercise room and attached bathrooms again.  I am personally thrilled.  I'm not sure whose idea it was to paint the walls brown and yellow, but I found that combination particularly amusing in the bathrooms because I am somewhat sophomoric on occasion.  Brown and a sort of heavy cream color is better for my dignity.  It also matches the carpet, which, as one other exerciser pointed out, looks like a refugee from some young boy's bedroom of dreams. 

I am somewhat miffed that I was kept out of the exercise room for weeks so they could replace the perfectly good carpet and paint.  Three times.  Only twelve of us use the room, and, trust me, none of us exercise because of the decor.  Does anyone seriously choose whether or not to exercise based on the interior design of an exercise room?  Seriously?

01 April 2010

Joys of the Midwest: expect the unexpected

I heard frogs in the pond across the street last night and tonight. Today, I read depressing books in the courtyard while sitting on a blanket absorbing sunshine in shorts and a t-shirt. Last year at this time, it was snowing. I love the Midwest.

31 March 2010

Profound thought about parking

Parking: Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you get exercise. Either way, you win.

29 March 2010

Dieting/Budgeting

I don't understand diet foods. I am on a very strict food budget. I need to get enough fuel to keep me going on a set amount of money. Why would I buy a watered down version of the fruit and veggie juice I drink all the time if it has half the calories for the same price? Why would I buy light ice cream if it + milk = a meal for me?

I guess it just puzzles me, too, since diet foods tend to have fewer calories because they have less of real, good, actual food substance in them. And then people eat twice as much of the diet food. They pay for it in more ways than one.

Are there any "diet" foods or beverages you like so much you prefer them to their non-diet originals?

26 March 2010

Stuff Christians Like: are you ready for this?


Oh, dear. This is kind of a hoot. It's an obvious rip-off of Stuff White People Like, but it's a really well-done rip-off. Too many things are spot on for me to ignore.

Page through it in a bookstore or take a look at the blog to see if it would be good coffee table/bathroom reading for you or someone you love. It helps to have grown up in a Protestant church, but people I showed it to who don't really have a church background found it pretty snort-inducing, too.

I really liked the one about the church band not practicing and then blaming their poor performance on Satan attacking them.  And the author's view of what Satan really thinks of it.  Classic.

24 March 2010

Not again: pain keeping me awake

The pain woke me up a few nights ago. It sort of slugged me and sneered, "That's all the sleep YOU'RE getting today." It's been bad lately.

As often happens when it gets bad (less sleep, more pain all day), I overcompensate a bit. I seem buoyant, but it's more like a sort of manic cheerfulness or maybe it's a form of reactionary dark humor with a bad accent from a gangster movie. "You think you're gonna get the best of me, do yas? Huh, punk?!" I have less self-control and self-censorship, so I say things I normally wouldn't, and I sometimes appall myself with what comes out.

I kind of wish I could hibernate during bad weeks, but this is a busy bad week, so I can't really just fold now. Or any time in the immediate future. Saved from meltdown by overscheduling? Going to hear a free concert from a Renaissance group I love, writing, working on a book manuscript: beauty and passion can keep you going sometimes. We'll see if they can distract me enough to keep me functioning.

22 March 2010

Fingernails (not on a chalkboard)

I was getting a bit more ticked off than was strictly necessary about not hearing back about yet another job application, and I laughed when I realized my ire was fingernail-related, which is somewhat unexpected and out of character for me. I am not a girly-girl.

Usually, I keep my nails cut very short. That way, there's less chance of snagging and chipping and breaking in the wild world of retail. Also, I can't really file them or make them look pretty because of my wrist problems. (I feel that I should add that even if I didn't have wrist problems, I think I still wouldn't do anything with them.)

When I have interviews or concerts, I let my nails grow out to a more professional-looking length. The interviews were supposed to be scheduled two weeks ago. This means my nails were ridiculously long (for me). This was irksome.

I have decided that I am unlikely to get this job. I am too much of a coward to email the person in charge to find out. I cut my nails. I am strangely happier. Maybe this means I'll get a call about an interview tomorrow. :) I'll keep my fingers with their short fingernails crossed.

19 March 2010

Going gray gracefully

Do you ever wonder if the amount of gray/white/silver hair you have is normal? I sure do. Mostly I wonder because everyone my age who has any seems to dye their hair. Even my older sister dyes hers (unconfirmed accusation). I have no idea when she started.

My hair started going back in college, but my mom said it was a genetic gift from her mom. I think she said her mom's hair was all white by the time she turned 30. I was kind of looking forward to that because my excessively oily skin makes my face look younger, and white hair with that face would have been startling. It didn't happen, and I'm okay with that.

I can only think of one person I know who let her hair go gray without hiding it. How sad is that? Dye is so expensive I could never afford it, but even if I could, I'm too cheap to spend money on it. (And then agonize about when my face looks old enough that I need to get my hair dyed gray or risk looking really creepy . . .)

Why do you suppose people get so panicky about gray hair? Are you panicky about it?

How do you feel about going gray naturally? Are you planning on doing it?

P.S. Tonight's moon is a lovely silver Cheshire cat smirk.

18 March 2010

Why I'm glad I don't drive a tall car

When my parents visited me last spring, they saw deer every day they came to visit me. I am glad my car is tiny and low to the ground because I think the deer wouldn't seem nearly as magical if I saw them every day.

15 March 2010

Things not to tell your mom, part 3

A predatory sex offender has moved into my building (or the one next door). Oh, joy. But don't worry, it appears that he prefers to prey on junior high school boys, so I'm safe; though I'm worried about the junior high half a mile up the road.

Keep me (and the kids) in your prayers . . .

12 March 2010

Why I love my father

He calls me to say
he's in the car
driving and listening
to a CD, and it reminded him

of the time years ago
when I moved away
to graduate school.
He tells me the album.

"Wow, what an album! We
listened to it when
we were driving through
Wisconsin. Anyway,

it made me think of you,
so I called to say hi
and I love you."

08 March 2010

Why I shouldn't read business books

I was skimming through some business books about how to improve employee morale, and it was kind of depressing. There were so many easy-to-implement, common-sense ways to improve morale. The most important thing, they all said, is clear communication.

Clear communication is what I've been fighting for in our store for the last several years, and it's the last thing my boss wants to do. Momentarily, I wondered if this is because she's self-conscious about her poor grammar (and the fact that she knows we notice it). That can't be why, though, because she writes and distributes long, confusing, unhelpful memos frequently.

Man, I sound a tad bitter, don't I?

The main problem with our situation is that all the books I've looked at are about what management can do to improve morale, not what employees can do to improve morale when the boss is against it (by her actions).

Does anyone know of any resources for that type of situation (other than the zen-y ones that tell you to put a positive spin on the bad situations you can't control and can't stand)?

07 March 2010

Am I passive-aggressive?

I have been accused of being passive-aggressive for writing letters to my bosses when there are specific issues I feel need to be addressed (and no one else will talk to management about them because they're smart enough to know management doesn't care).  I'm a little confused by the way this term is used.

From what I understand, a passive-aggressive response to, say, her terrible, are-you-seriously-a-college-graduate constant grammar/spelling/syntax errors would be to put a stack of hilarious and difficult to understand memos and emails on her chair with grammar and style comments marked in red and place a copy of "I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar" on top of the pile.

I consider writing an essay with bullet points and formatting designed to clearly communicate problems and proposed solutions to be a form of properly documented alternative conflict resolution.  (Except that it never works because getting any kind of response in writing is impossible, thus making the whole exercise pointless.)

Am I really being passive aggressive?  Is the only correct way to air grievances (especially to an illogical, combative, defensive, incompetent boss) to have a conversation that escalates into a shouting match that could get me fired?  If it is, I'd rather be passive aggressive and have all those letters formally on file for my defense should the time come.

In your opinion, where is the line for passive-aggressive behavior?

04 March 2010

The best exit

If
I had not misjudged
the location
of the flashing lights,
if
I had not chosen
this wrong exit
for my impromptu detour,
I
would not have seen
this moon
monstrously misshapen
grotesque eerie orange
a celestial cheddar souffle
just above the horizon
failing to rise
perfectly.

If I had not chosen
this wrong exit,
I would not have seen
this moon.

02 March 2010

Winter Prayer of Contentment

God may not have given me
the job I need to pay off
my bills or good health

or freedom from pain or
any of the important
things I want (but

have never been promised
by God in the first place), but
He did give me

a perfect twilight
four deer in the yard
across the street

no traffic
so I could sit
in the middle

of the road and stare
at the deer
staring at me,

and He never promised
me that, either, but
sometimes, like today,

it's more than enough.

27 February 2010

Revenge of the virus

I was trying to drown and bore to death whatever virus I picked up, and my plan is not working.  In fact, I think the virus is out for revenge.  I have been coughing so hard and so long for the past ten days that I somehow managed to pull the muscles on the left side of my neck.  Is that even possible?!

Yes, apparently, it is.  Grar.  I'm taking this virus to the doctor next week if it doesn't clear up.  It's already cost me a solo (the last one I might get to do in the little cathedral we sing at every semester), and I don't even know if I'll be able to do the concert, since the beauty of the stone and stained glass doesn't match the ugly and distracting sound of me coughing with such hopeless abandon every three minutes. 

I would like to at least make it through the concert.  They need my A flat in the lovely chant piece "we're" doing . . .


On the upside, one of the jerk bosses at work feels pretty sorry for me in my helpless misery, so he's been a lot less annoying lately.  See, there is indeed a silver lining.

25 February 2010

Sparrow tree

On my way home, sometimes I pass this tree that looks like one of those round sparkly fireworks that explode with long streamers in all directions. 

It looks like a candied apple on a stick with chopped peanuts, although the peanuts are actually adrenalin junkie sparrows who gather there and wait for my car to pass so they can explode into planned random motion in a mad dash to reach some previously agreed on point on the other side of the street that always requires them to fly directly in front of my car. 

It's a good wake-up call if I am feeling tired, let me tell you . . .

23 February 2010

Do you remember cassette tapes?

Remember them?  I sill have some.  And a tape recorder to play them on.  Some of those albums still aren't available on CD.  Someone really needs to go out there and get all those orphan albums and make them available online legally, so I can get rid of these cassette tapes and stop worrying about the music gods demanding my beloved ones as sacrifices . . .

Here's John Scalzi, waxing nostalgic about all old technology and other relics of the past that he won't miss at all.

"Cassette tapes wore out even more quickly, their sonic reproduction was even worse, and they would get randomly eaten by your Walkman as a sacrifice to the music gods, and it was always your beloved music, not that Poison cassette your great aunt got you because she knows as much about your musical tastes as she knows anything else about you. I would have gladly sacrificed Look What the Cat Dragged In to the music gods, in their mercy. But it didn’t work that way. It never works that way."
I really don't miss people smoking everywhere. :X

Are there any other no-longer-common things you are glad to see gone?

22 February 2010

Are you safe?

God calls us to abundant lives, not safe lives.  I wonder if we think about what that means enough.  Here's a great video clip that illustrates how we live most of the time.

Yep, that about says it.  Your thoughts?

20 February 2010

Ugly church art

We were part of a big service at a gorgeous neo-Gothic church, and I spent much of the service while we were not singing contemplating an absolutely hideous four-sided monstrosity of a tapestry hanging directly beneath the bell tower and blocking out too much of the light from the copious stained glass windows.

The church itself was beautiful.  It had a devoted art gallery and lots of lovely (and less-than-lovely) art works in different forms on walls and in alcoves throughout its labyrinthine corridors.  So why was there such a tacky, ineffably ugly, and more than a little incomprehensible piece in the heart of the church sanctuary destroying the beauty all around it?

The world may never know.

How's the state of the art in your church?

18 February 2010

I'll take snice any day

We were supposed to get More Snow, but instead, it appeared that a legion of tiny snow fairies descended on the area and frosted everything with a thin coating of snice.  The sun was mostly hidden behind thin, smudgy clouds, and when it broke through, for a few seconds, the beauty made me want the world to stop.

I wanted to skip work to take pictures of ice and fairy-frosted trees all around town, but I am too responsible.  Sigh.

16 February 2010

How listening to John Tavener is like faith

Sometimes it's hard to listen to John Tavener's music.  He likes dissonance.  It hurts, especially when you're listening to a piece at orchestra volume.  You have to resist the temptation to turn it down to avoid hearing the brokenness, the grating ugliness that scrapes your ears raw.

If you're going to be able to leave the volume where it should be, you have to believe that Tavener's music is going somewhere so beautiful that all the pain will be for something.  If you hear the ugliness that loudly, the beauty is like sudden relief from suffering, like sweet cessation of pain, like the joy of something inexpressible welling up inside you.

Anyway, you must have faith that the pain is worth it, or you'll miss the fullness of the beauty. 

Deer on the brain and other hazards of being too literal

I saw a billboard late one night on my way home, but since I've had deer on the brain, I sort of misinterpreted the text on the sign, which talks about a "bare-knuckled bucket of does," and my brain just sort of stuttered and stopped as I tried really hard (it was past my bed time) to figure out if deer or buckets even have knuckles and what a bucket of female deer would even try to possibly mean. 

Needless to say, I have no idea what product was being advertised.

It's past time for bed now, too.

13 February 2010

Mailboxes and terror (also, deer)

How long has it been since I saw that nice young buck on the side of the road?  When am I going to stop jumping at every mailbox covered in new snow (thus taking on an unexpected shape that sets my panic about deer alert off)?  There are still months of new snow to come.  This could get tiresome . . .  :)

11 February 2010

Handel handling us . . .

We are singing some Handel in choir.  Technically. 

Honestly?  Handel is kicking our heinies (pardon my faux-German).  12/8?  With dotted notes?  You have got to be kidding me. 

Since we are, essentially, an amateur choir, it might be a bit much to imagine we can learn this (and several other pieces) in time for a dual concert with the orchestra in five weeks, especially since YouTube and all the library systems let me down with their selections from Judas Maccabeus.  There isn't a single recording in any of the surrounding library systems.  Even on YouTube there are no recordings of two of the more wickedly hard choruses we have to learn.   

Makes me want to learn 'em even more.  Now I just have to figure out how.

Any tips or tricks for those who can't really play piano with that many accidentals in the key signature in that time signature with that many dotted notes?

09 February 2010

When I don't sleep

When I don't sleep, I hurt more.  I'm not talking about how, without rest, the body can't repair itself, etc.  I'm talking about how the physical act of not resting, of not ceasing motion, can lead to actual injury and discomfort. 
  • I do bad things to my neck. 
  • My right shoulder separates (an older injury).
  • I wrench the muscles over my ribs.
  • Etc. :(
Along with not sleeping, I seem to beat myself up in some irritatingly unconscious (while I'm conscious) bout of self-flagellation.  And I am just too tired to get up and turn on a light and read, even though I know it's what I should do, and there are so many books I want to read right here in my room.  Whine, whine, winge winge, whine.

Sigh.  I'd say I feel better now, but it's been over a week since I even got my "normal" amount of sleep (2-4 hours). 
Don't worry: MacGyver's still keeping me company as I write and research jobs and clean and hurt.  Hair's much better this season.  He just got betrayed by another girl.  You'd think he'd learn.  Sigh.