Friday, December 31, 2010

I declare 2011 to be the "Year of Change"!

This past year has had its ups and downs, sideways, verticals, horizontals, inwards, outwards, crosswise, and every other direction imaginable -- but I made it through and I'm ready for the new year!

I'm not one to make New Years Resolutions because, well, I'm not too good at keeping them. I mean, honestly, who is? Rather I try to make Birthday Resolutions that are gifts to myself. Things I think I deserve to have change in my life, and I've found I tend to have a higher success rate than New Years Resolutions...but even that success rate isn't the highest.

Oftentimes I think we get caught up in changing ourselves for others, but fail to consider what would make us more happy. That's not to say that losing 5, 10, 20, 100+ pounds wouldn't increase a person's self esteem, but why don't we make it a resolution to find one thing we like about ourselves, or are grateful for every day? Why do we focus so much on the outer person rather than the inner?

This coming year will be the year I finish college, graduating in May with a Masters of English. What am I going to do with that? Wouldn't you (and I) like to know? I'm hoping to stay on at the University of Idaho and teach as an adjunct teacher for at least a year before moving on. My feeble attempt at clinging to the security blanket that has been my higher education for just a little bit longer. But beyond that change, what else will change? I'd like to work to live rather than live to work. Doing something I love, like teaching, enables me to do both, but I've found my scales tipping more to the work, work, work, area rather than the go out and have fun side. I need to find balance in my life and a large part of that will come with commencement ceremonies in May.

I'd like to cross one thing off of my "bucket list" and work on getting published this coming year. Maybe it will just be an article in a scholarly journal (which is most likely), but there have also been some ideas that have been fermenting in my brain for awhile that I'd like to finally get down on paper -- stories that will most likely be in conjunction with my older sister and discussions we've been having for awhile.

My list could go on and on, but of course I'd like to be debt-free (the dream of every graduating college student), have a steady job and income, house I can call my own (and all the expenses that brings), be at my goal weight, as well as any number of other "dreams" people resolve to achieve every New Years Eve, but these things are not my goals for the year, rather wishes.

The greatest gift I think I can give myself this year is to live with "reckless abandon". Maybe that will be my new motto. To me, reckless abandon isn't to live irresponsibly, but to live adventurously. Do things that make me uncomfortable and make me reach outside of my comfort zone. Give myself permission to allow an emotion or experience to envelope me with soak it all up instead of worrying about being in control all the time. Dare to live in the moment instead of planning things out. That is my ultimate goal. To be free to do, see, experience, feel, and be -- but not without thinking of how others may be negatively affected by my actions. I don't want my id to rule, but I also don't want my superego to's all about balance.

I just hope I get adept at walking the balance beam, because it can be a perilous drop!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas? Um, let me get back to you on that

So the unwrapping of gifts and Christmas dinner was actually a lot of fun. My younger sister has been in town for a few days (with her two dogs--so now there are three dogs in my house, but don't worry, I cleared it with my roommates ahead of time) and went up to Spokane early to spend time with my older sister and her new baby, Jacob. Because of his health and pending heart surgery, the dogs stayed with me because we're unsure if he is allergic to the dogs or not and didn't want to risk him going to the hospital because of them.

Anyway, I drove up to Spokane, sans dogs, and spent a few hours there before driving home and watching the dogs. When I came home, the tension that had been building in my apartment finally reached the breaking point. If you'll remember, in November I posted about an altercation between one roommate -- I'll just refer to her as Sam, from here on out -- and us other two. When I apologized (and yes, I did a couple of days later) she said she was done with both of us and she had had it. Apparently she felt we two had been talking behind her back and ganging up on her (um, we have mutual friends in common. Maybe when we complain about someone and use the words "she" and "her" we're referring to someone other than Sam? Ya' think?), which created an "unsafe" (her word) living environment for her. Her response? Nope, not move out of the "unsafe" environment like any reasonable person, but pretend like we don't exist and ignore us. Hmmm...

So for about two months the silent treatment between Sam and us other two roommates had been building. It had gotten so bad that the other roommate would spend all day in a local coffee shop just to avoid Sam and the house, and had actually changed her flight home to two weeks earlier just to get out of the house sooner. Not exactly the type of environment anyone wants to pay rent for living in. Over the course of this tension-filled time a battle over the thermostat, bathroom time, disappearing food, etc. had silently been waged. So on Christmas, after having a great time with my sisters and family, I came home to another instance of missing food.

I confronted Sam about the missing food and she stated she hadn't eaten it. Well, it was there when I left, six hours ago, you are the only person in the house, and now it's gone. Who else would have eaten it? I don't think the dogs know how to open the refrigerator and unscrew bottle tops. She adamantly denied eating the food and I pretty much lost it. Trust me when I say that seeing me lose my temper isn't a good thing. I know I have a bad one, so I keep it tightly in check and, in the last five years I can't think of once when I've lost it -- but Merry Christmas to Sam. I was reduced to yelling, name calling, and telling her that either she was going to move or I was because I couldn't handle living with a lying witch (but the other word--not my proudest moment) who had no respect for the property of others. It had previously been stated, on numerous occasions and on notes on the fridge, that if you hadn't bought it (this went for everyone) that you don't eat it. Pretty simple. The disappearing food had gotten so bad that I had put a lock on my pantry door so my food would stop being apprehended. Seriously? No one should have to live like that!

So the next day I called the landlady (we'll call her D) and told her I couldn't live with Sam and that I was going to start looking for a new place to live. I explained the entire breakdown of the situation...all the way back to early November. I did make the concession that my version was just that, my version, and that she should talk to Sam, but I was unwilling to live another six months with Sam. D listened and asked me to wait a little bit while she talked to Sam. No response from either Sam or D on the 26th, and on the 27th?

Well, Becca, my younger sister, was back from Spokane, I had gone to get some movies and pizza for the evening's entertainment and when I got home and was in the kitchen, the first words Sam said to over two days...were something like, "You broke my clock. What are you going to do about it?" Um, what? When did I break her clock? I denied it because, well, I didn't do it (see my rant above about respecting other people's property), and she didn't believe me. Hmmm...does this scenario sound slightly familiar? She assured me that I did, while I asserted that her clock was working fine when I walked by it in the hall earlier in the day, and she said it wasn't working when she put it up on the wall (I had taken it down because it's ticking is so loud it wakes me up in the middle of the night). Um, if it wasn't working then (at around 9am), than why didn't you tell me then before you walked by me in the living room and left the house? Why did you wait until 6pm at night? So, essentially this "conversation" denigrated into an argument with me leaving the room before I did physical harm to Sam, and taking the pizza and movies into the living room where Becca was listening to everything. How bad was the atmosphere in the house? Becca said she was going to leave the next day (about six days early) because there was so much tension in the house. Thank you Sam for attributing to this noxious atmosphere. I will admit that I added to it, but I did not instigate it. Sam walked through the living room a couple of times talking on her phone and, on the second time, she said she was willing to mend fences, but still wanted to know what I was going to do about the clock. At that point I told her it wasn't going to happen -- fence mending or clock fixing -- as she had burned bridges and I reiterated that I wasn't going to live with her anymore.

So the next day (28th) I left a message with the landlady (D) that we needed to talk, and set up two appointments to look at new apartments. I talked to D and she said Sam had told her some stuff that was untrue about me, I cleared it up with D, and I gave D an ultimatum: either Sam leaves or I leave, but I refuse to live with her any longer and in any situation. D stated she wanted me and the other roommate to stay (because I had told D that the other roommate hated living with Sam as well and that she wanted to leave as soon as her lease was up because of it--thus having D lose two tenants because of one) and was willing to evict Sam if I signed a lease...which I was willing to do since I plan on staying in the area for at least another year.

So I signed the lease with my own addendum saying that if Sam was living in the house when I returned (because I decided to leave with Becca and stay with her for the remainder of the winter break so I wouldn't lose my temper with Sam again), that the lease was null and void and there would be no legal claim by either D or myself. Apparently D gave Sam 15 days to vacate the house, so by the start of school in January, the house will be Sam and drama free!

Let me just say that there was rejoicing on the phone from my other roommate when I told her the news. She's excited to actually live in the house again and not have the drama either. Is it possible that a new roommate will be the same or worse than Sam? Yes, but not very likely. D is intent on screening the new tenant to make sure we all get along so this doesn't happen again.

Me? I'm in Idaho Falls for the next couple of weeks, praying Sam doesn't do anything to my personal property in her anger, but not really caring. Everything that is important to me is with dog Sage and my computer with all of my school papers and notes. Anything else can be replaced...and if she does vandalize my property, I'll take her to small claims court for both the property and for her past due payment for the power bill, which I don't really expect to see because she'll probably withhold it as "payment" for her clock. At this point, I don't care, just get her out of my house!

There's the (mostly) long and short of the drama in my life. Honestly, I don't like drama. Can't everyone just get along?

Friday, December 24, 2010

God Bless Us, Every One!

As the finish line for my schooling draws nearer and nearer my mind inevitably wonders where I'll be at this same time next year. Sitting in front of my laptop watching Christmas Movies on the TV (White Christmas, A Christmas Story, etc.) in candlelight, eating Frango Mints (courtesy of my wonderful older brother), and see my and my sister's dogs conked out various surfaces (couch, floor, and doggie bed), I sit here and think about how blessed me and mine have been this year.

Sure, we've had our trials, tribulations, and disappointments, but each of them had brought us to where we are today. I think one of the things I most appreciate about growing older is recognizing that where I am now is not where I planned on being, but I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm glad I'm not because the lessons I've learned, people I've met, and experiences I've had are such that I wouldn't trade them for anything.

So as Christmas Eve night draws to a close and kids eagerly anticipate tomorrow morning (and I'll admit I do too, even though I'm 33 years old and won't be unwrapping presents until I'm with my sisters tomorrow afternoon) I just want to add my prayers and Christmas wishes to you--my family and friends. May you remember the reason for the season and give the gift of yourself in the coming year.



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ketchup and Catch-up...

Nope, nothing deep in the title, just found it funny. Alright, it's after midnight and, right now, anything and everything is funny. "Tired Patty" has appeared and this is the version of me who will do anything. Climb to the second story of a building just to knock on a friend's window and freak them out? Okay, Tired Patty will do that...and other things that will remain unmentioned. When I get tired I can either get, um...witchy, or get loopy. I prefer the second one, but if you want the first, I'll concede to your desires -- just be careful what you wish for!

I'm happy to say I've accomplished everything I'm supposed to for the rest of the year. School papers written and submitted, grading done and submitted, Christmas shopping done, house cleaned...and I'm bored. Seriously? I've been frazzled and stressed for months and now I'm bored? What kind of person feels that way? Me, that's who. I don't do the whole "vacation" thing very well. I think I mentioned that in an earlier post. So what am I doing? Writing example papers for my students and lesson planning for next semester. Yep, a glutton for punishment.

What can I say -- it takes all kinds!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The De-evolution of Dress

Hmmm....that's a random kind of title for this blog, but it lets you know what kind of week I've been having.

This week I've found myself noticing the clothes the students on campus are wearing...myself included. If you think back to the first day of school, regardless of your age, you always want to look your best. It's the "first day of school clothes" that are thoughtfully picked out and set aside for the first day of school. For as far back as I can remember I've always  repeated this rite of passage every school year. Experience has shown me that this desire to look your best for a good first impression hasn't changed, for college students or elementary.

Students dolled up in their "Sunday-best" was the norm in August. Admittedly I wasn't a huge fan of the lack of clothing in the summer heat, but it definitely wasn't a tank top and daisy dukes that were sported on campus. As the weather turned cooler the layers and longer-sleeves rolled out I was happy. Partly because of the crisp days, breathtaking colors, as well as the opportunity to wear sweaters.

Now? Well, it seems like everyone is wearing sweats, messy buns, and hoodies. All of those criteria fit me, except for the sweats. I guess I just have an inherent belief that if you're wearing sweats your either: 1) working out or coming to/from the gym, or 2) lazing about the house with no plans of going out in public. Coming from an undergrad university where sweats weren't allowed as classroom attire, it is still kind of weird to see students look like they just rolled out of bed, and figuring they probably did, because...well, look at them!

So as the semester winds down, it'll be interesting to see how many students show up to their finals actually wearing their pajamas and slippers. The number's probably a lot higher than I really want to know. (Although I wouldn't be adverse to seeing adult footie pajamas walking around--and looking like Ralphie would be to dream too much!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

10 o'clock and all is well!

So it's now 10PM on Monday night and I'm sitting in my offfice at school. The ground is covered with a conglomeration of ice, covered with packed snow, layered with a sheen of ice, and gently topped off with freezing fog. Yep, it's my lucky winter!

But all is well. I'm working on writing a short paper (about nine pages) for a presentation I am giving in a class tomorrow and Sage is laying on the floor. I'm lucky enough to be able to take her to school with me sometimes. She hangs out in my office, the other faculty come in and play fetch with her in the halls, and she loves all over anyone who happens to walk in the office--aw, heck--anyone who walks by the office. She runs out to greet them and more often than not freaks them out. Who expects to see an 80 pound chocolate lab roaming the halls of the English Department offices? She's also gone to ceramics class with me and now I get the question of "Where is Sage?" if I don't bring her. Sheesh!  :-)

It's nice to know that my appreciation and waxing poetic about how great my dog is isn't just me. It's true for other people too!

She'll probably go to ceramics with me tomorrow, be with me all day in the office on Wednesday (because I don't have or teach classes that day), and then part of the day on Friday. Yep, I feel guilty leaving her alone and, she may not get to do a whole bunch, but we take a foray outside every couple of hours to play fetch in the snow, let random passing students pet her, and let her go to the bathroom, before coming back in, getting a treat, petted, and taking another nap. Oh, to have my dog's life!

Soon. Soon I will be sleeping in until my body wakes me up and doing what I want...until I get bored...after a day. Unfortunately that's all it takes for me to do nothing/veg. Oh well, there could be worse things!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Alright, the holiday season can start now

The stress of life has caught up with me and I've noticed that I've started biting my nails again. I will admit that I bit them for a long time until I sat myself down and had a little talk with me. I told myself I was an adult and had to take responsibility for myself and I was too old to be biting my nails. Luckily I listened because, well, I'd hate to imagine how that argument would have worked out. Can you imagine myself giving me the silent treatment? Yeah, not good.

So I had to sit down tonight and give myself the same talk with a bit of variation. I had to remind myself that although life may get stressful and I feel like there isn't enough time to do everything I need to, that I need to prioritize, admit that sometimes I can't do it all, and allow some things to fall by the wayside. These are all tools that are a lot healthier than biting my nails. We'll see if this pep talk works!

As my semester winds down and the grading and paper writing/revisions and deadlines loom, I took some time for myself this weekend. In order to restore a sense of balance and give myself time to breathe I took an afternoon and did what I wanted to. I drove down to Lewiston, ID with my roommate Gabby, we ate at IHOP (not the coolest, I know, but I wanted pancakes for dinner and somehow I haven't been able to find a place with good pancakes in this college town), went to the dollar theatre (again, how can a college town not have a dollar theatre?), grabbed a caramel apple cider from Starbucks and went to see the Christmas lights at Locomotive Park by the river.

It's not the lights at Temple Square in SLC, but Lewiston is the only place where you can do a line dance with lighted penguins to the Peanuts theme, dance in an igloo, run through a tunnel of lights that change as you race through them, dance on a huge pad connected to lights on a tree, ring the bell of a train, and feel like a kid again. Seriously, I loved seeing all the little kids dancing on the pressure pad connected to the lights. They were so excited and freely told me which spots on the pad activated their favorite color on the tree. Nothing like having five helpers telling you how you're jumping incorrectly and showing the adult how to do it right...and they were right. I wasn't jumping with enough joy in my heart and a big enough smile on my face. Thanks kids!

I was blessed to be able to share this with my roommate (that I actually get along with) and we took pictures of each other posing with life-sized gingerbread men cookies. I'd post the pictures, but I can't find the adapter for my cell phone. When I do I will download them. Until then, here are some other pictures of the lights I found online.

I can honestly say that the holiday season can now soon as I watch A Christmas Story. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

...and I screamed like a girl

Honestly I don't know what it is with me and animals lately. Last week I had a dog die on me and then this week (yesterday to be specific), I had a run-in with a bird. A big bird. Not a tiny parakeet-sized bird, but a bird the size of a pteradactyl...a bus-sized pteradactyl. Me, exaggerate? Noooooooo. Okay, so maybe it wasn't bus big, but it wernt' yo momma's chickadee!

So I stayed home from classes yesterday in hopes of kicking cold #2 of the semester and when I went downstairs in the morning there was a bunch of ash on the floor around our wood stove. Now, we never use the stove because the landlady hasn't cleaned the chimney in awhile, but the doors also aren't latched properly, so I though maybe a big gust of air had come down and got some ash in the house. I cleaned it up and went back upstairs. Two hours later, when I come down again, I notice there is more ash. I clean it up and begin to wonder what's going on when I hear it. It was a sound to make your blood curl...or...maybe it was just the sound of wings tring to get out of the fireplace. Um, yea. That was probably more like it.

Anyway, the long and short of the story involved my landlady telling me to just let it die and then get the bird out (um, NO! Like I want to know a dead bird is on the other side of the wood stove surround? Not thinking likely), her being of no help because she was out of town, my dog Sage starting to freak out because she could hear the noises, and me and my roommate trying to shoosh a large bird out of out living room, all the while with me screaming like a girl (not my proudest moment) and both of us dodging a freaked out and panicked bird.

Happy to say the bird got out, but I think after all was said and done I was more traumatized than the bird. I just kept having visions of a certain Hitchcock movie. *shivers*

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Not as bad as it seems...

For all my complaining, recent and otherwise, it's not as bad as it seems. Yes, I have my ups and downs, but both valleys and mountains have their own kind of beauty and can be appreciated.

I remember moving from the Puget Sound area of Washington (Lynnwood to be exact) to Walla Walla, WA right before I started junior high. I fell asleep before we had cleared Snoqualamie pass and woke up outside of Tri-Cities, WA. The scenery had gone from green, lush, and salty ocean air to brown, dry, and arid. I had a mental freak out and couldn't understand why my parents had moved the family across the state from a seeming Eden-like flourishing green-ness to a barren wasteland. To my young eyes everything around me was dead. I soon came to realize that the farmland around me wasn't lifeless, but had matured and was ready for harvest. The initially perceived "dead plants" were actually fields of wheat. Now I can recognize the lushness of both kinds of scenery. Each is equally beautiful in my eyes and each serves a different purpose.
The same can be said about life. Balance. Yin and Yang. Dichotomies. Binaries. Everything has a counterbalance that is essential to truly understand and appreciate the other. I can't be truly happy without going through and understanding pain. I don't appreciate a good student paper until I read a bad one. Recognizing the beauty of the ocean and a desert only comes when you realize the necessity of the other.

Maybe I've waxed poetic right now...and yes, maybe I'm avoiding grading, but it's all true. I need to have the hard times, moments when I want to give up and quit, pain, confusion, anger, hurt, frustration, and other emotions I have been feeling lately, in order to appreciate the other things. Friends who have encouraged me, family who have lifted my spirits, the kindness of strangers, love from all, and the reassurance from those who are willing to kick the butt of those that hurt me. It's nice to know someone has your back.

So thank you for your comments, encouragement, and love -- vocal or silent. It's felt and appreciated.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Crisis averted, but now it's getting kind of weird.

Let me just start this post off by saying how the only way I remember how to spell weird is that it's spelling is weird. You remember the whole "I before E, except after C" sing-song we learned in elementary school? Yea, weird is the exception. I think it's because of this anomaly that I like the word weird so much.

Alright. And on to other things!

Crisis averted. As you can tell, I did not quit humanity and decided to stick it out...for at least three more weeks until Winter Break. I slept for a whole four hours last night and feel much better. -sigh- That's just sad. At this point I'm just grinning and bearing it.

And this morning I had a lovely little stalker-ish email message that said "Redbox misses you!" Um, stop following my every rental movements. I'm sorry Redbox, but you don't always have all the new releases I want to see so, yes, I go old school and go to a video rental store sometimes. Also, I have Netflix, so sometimes I just watch stuff online or get it mailed to me. And then again, I'm a stressed out student, so I don't have an over abundance of free time on my hands to watch movies. So stop stalking me and get your own life you inanimate, technological object! Stop trying to wield your thing-power over me!

...aaaaaand, I'm back!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Quit!

Today has been just one of those days where I want to quit.

Quit school. Quit teaching. Quit being nice. Quit the human race and just go live by myself in the middle of nowhere.

If anyone else criticizes me, hurts my feelings, or pisses me off I may just break.

Thank goodness there are only three more weeks of school (two of which I teach) and then the holiday break. I can't handle any more griping, complaining, or erratic and unreasonable behavior.

I've never been a quitter, but I think I'm on the precipice.

I think I need to go to bed and hope tomorrow is better.

Well, THAT was Unexpected

Before I moved away from Walla Walla (okay, it was over a decade, I'm getting old!), I was house sitting for a lot of people. I'd live in their house for a week or more, water plants, watch pets if needed, pick up mail and newspapers, etc...And I LOVED it! It's kind of like going to a hotel for awhile because it isn't your place and you sleep in different beds and such. But it's actually better than a hotel because I got paid for doing it.

Really? I mean, you're paying me to not have to live in a house with two younger sisters for a week. Alright!

I hadn't done any real house sitting since (we won't count the 6 months I stayed in the "snowbirds" house while they were in Arizona when I first moved to Lewiston. Yes, it was in the Country Club area, but I paid them rent (basically to cover utilities and such) it doesn't really count), so when a friend from Lewiston hooked me up with some friends in Moscow needing someone to house and dog sit for them I was all in. I mean, I've been having issues with a roommate and I knew I was going to have a lot on my plate that week. I met with them twice (with Sage in tow to make sure she got along with the dogs) and everything was great. They cautioned me that they didn't have television, which was FABULOUS for me because I had final papers to draft up and major student papers to grade, so I didn't need the distraction.

So they left on Sunday and on Tuesday afternoon I was in the vet's office with one of the dogs. Um, yeah. That wasn't a fun call to make. They were in New York and I was in Idaho and their nine year old dog was lethargic, not eating, had labored breathing and other health problems. I got in for their earliest open appointment at 3:10pm and two hours later the vet came back and told me the dog died.


Apparently the dog had had cancer and when I brought him (Mickey) in, his organs were shutting down. The owners hadn't known about the cancer so it was completely unexpected. I'm lucky I didn't have to tell the owners about their beloved dog's death, the vet had been in phone contact with them about what they were doing and such and had broken the news. So I went in with a dog and left empty handed. (FYI-this is not a picture of the actual dog. I'm not that insensitive, but it's what he looked like.)

Seriously, THAT wasn't what I was expected. I thought maybe a prescription and surgery at the worst, but not death! So the owners were worried about how I was feeling and I was worried about how they were feeling. It was a lot of mutual "I'm sorry's" going on in the subsequent phone calls...pretty much every day of their vacation because there was still one more dog at home alive. Trust me. If Emmy (the dog) would have allowed it, I would have wrapped her in bubble wrap and not allowed her to move a muscle. I didn't want two pet deaths on my hands!

Luckily we all made it through the rest of the break alive...even the owners who had a treacherous ice/snow drive back from the Spokane airport, and the mutual commiseration talk cycled through again when they got home.

How do I feel? Honestly, I was feeling sooooooo sorry for the owners because I know how I would feel if that had happened to Sage while I was gone. I would be heartbroken, guilty, and worried about the person watching my dog too. I felt bad, but I also realize death is a natural part of life and this was a completely fluke accident. No one could have planned the timing, especially without knowing the dog's health. I'm just sorry the owners weren't in town and now they'll have guilt. Luckily the dog spent all but the last two hours of his life at home with his other dog, so there's that.

I don't know...I think I'm still a bit in shock and awe, but I'll be fine. We'll see if they ask me to dog sit again in the future. That'll be the real test.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fireplaces, Blizzard Warnings, and a Good Book

There's something festive about sitting by a fire. The constant exchange of colors -- from yellow, to orange, to red, to blue, to yellow again -- and the warmth that emanates from it. Couple that with the blizzard warning we had last night and the approximately 8-10 inches of snow I woke up to this morning, and it feelsm more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. Memories of spiced apple cider, the smell of mom's cornbread stuffing filling the house, and a puzzle everyone frantically works at trying to complete before gathered family disperse back to their respective homes, capture my imagination and mind.

This Thanksgiving won't be like those of yore (yep, I used that word), but has followed a pattern similar to thsoe of recent years. A week filled with frantically grading or writing papers, probably dinner at my local Denny's or Shari's (I wish this was the first time I ate at one of these places for a holiday, but I'd be lying to you) with a roommate -- we had other plans, but things change -- and a trip to a movie theatre for one of the newest releases.

Perhaps that all sounds a little dismal, but I'm alright with it. Sometimes your desires have to be prioritized and put on hold in order to accomplish those that rank of higher importance. I will finish my masters if it kills me; and some days I think it will. And I will sacrifice a Thanksgiving meal so I can better appreciate the upcoming Christmas holiday stress free and paper free.

In the mean time I will get back to basking in the warmth of the fire as I watch dogs snooze in front of it. Unfortunately, instead of reading from my book pile of "to be reads", I'll be reading a book about rhetoric, or materialism, or technology, or all of them. -sigh-

C'mon Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Some of my Little Men

I'm happy to report that I managed to make it until Thanksgiving Break. While it's a break for my students, unfortunately it's not a break for me. I had my students turn in their major (8-10 page) papers on Friday and sent them on their merry way. My homework for a movie over the break, nearly any movie and come to class on the 29th of November with a professional review of the movie from one of five websites I've listed on the assignment sheet (Washington Post, New York Time, Chicago-Sun Times, etc.). Yep, tough homework. I can just imagine them telling their parents, "But mom/dad, I have to go see the newest Harry Potter because it's my homework!" Yeah. Hard life.

Me? I just have to write 2 rough drafts of my own that are 18-25 pages...hopefully by Wednesday, and grade all of their papers. Hmm....I think I got the short end of that stick.

As for the title of this post, I was blessed enough to spend some time with two of the "little men" in my life yesterday. I made the drive up to Spokane to drop a fellow classmate off at the airport and then I went to Sacred Heart Hospital to finally meet my newest nephew, Jacob. He's nearly four weeks old, was born with Down Syndrome, and the poor little guy has spent a majority of time in the hospital due to infections. The one week he was actually home with his family I was sick and didn't want to risk getting him sick, so all I had seen were pictures and let me tell you, he is just as cute in person. I got to hold him (watching to make sure I didn't accidentally pull his I.V. or other wires from his poor little body) for at least and hour and talk with his mom, my older sister Susan, about a bunch of things.

Jacob is just a sweetheart and he was looking really good. Some raspiness to his breathing, but apparently that was aggravated by a breathing tube that they had to insert for one reason or another. Although he had just thrown up what he had eaten before, I was able to feed him another bottle of food and just held and snuggled him while he slept. What an angel!

In an effort to give my sister and brother-in-law some time off from the hospital and get some one-on-one time together, I offered to take their older son, 11 year-old Nathan, to dinner and the movies. 15 year-old Elisha was with friends and 1 1/2 year old Courtney was going to hang out with her Grandma and Aunts that were in town. So it was just me and my other little man, Nathan.

Can I just say that if Jacob is as sweet as Nathan than the world is truly blessed. Nathan is one of the most soft-hearted and whip-smart boys I know. I absolutely love hanging out with him and he's a good sport about everything. The boy makes me smile and laugh all the time. We had pizza for dinner and went to see MegaMind at the theatre. My review -- meh. It was okay, but not laugh-out-loud Despicable Me. I went and saw that with four of my other nieces and nephews and we couldn't stop laughing. MegaMind has a great cast of voices (Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill), and they made fun of underdog superhero movies of the past, but I'm glad I went to a matinee and would be able to live the rest of my life without seeing it again if necessary. But I was also happy to see they're making another Kung Fu Panda movie. Yes, I like animated films just as much as my younger relatives and, yes, I take them along as excuses to see them. Any questions?

So I consider the day to be one of the best ways to spend a day of my break: not thinking about my students, their papers, or my papers, seeing loved family members and getting introduced to a new one, and spending one-on-one time with two of my favorite little men.

-sigh- Yep. Good day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

'Gimmie a Break!

No, this is not in reference to the old 80s television show with Nell Carter...although, now it is. Rather this was my plea for help last night and all day today.

Thanksgiving break is next week and it couldn't have come any sooner...I wish it had, but it couldn't. They'd already printed all the calendars, so all my wishing was for naught.

Oh. My. Gosh. As this posting so far indicates, I'm a bit loopy right now due to lack of sleep and an overabundance of stress. Last night, for example, I was so tired that at about 7:30PM I literally laid down on the floor of my office to take a nap. I'd been on campus since 7AM that morning and had a meeting at 9PM with one of my classmates to discuss a discussion we were leading in class the next day. I had a headache (which is typically only brought on by lack of sleep) and figured the only way I was going to be productive and coherent by 9PM was to take a nap. So I balled up my jacket to make a pillow, set the alarm on my cell phone, turned off the lights and had about a half-hour to 45 minute nap. Yes, it worked wonders and yes, I was so tired and conked out so hard that I drooled. No shame!

It took all my will to get up this morning and make it to class (new snowfall and all) on time. I'm happy to say I've met (nearly) all my deadlines for this week and now I get to relax.


It's a week without classes, but that doesn't mean I don't have anything to do. In addition to house/dog sitting for some people this week I will be grading approximately 500 pages of student work (blech!), and writing two 18-25 page papers (double-blech!). Admittedly, one of the papers should wind up being a chapter of my thesis, but I just wish I could have a break. Maybe after I, then I'll have other stresses in my life--like what am I going to do now?

The one "treat" I am giving myself is that I am headed to bed now, not setting my alarm, and am going to sleep until my body decides I've had enough sleep--not an annoying alarm demanding I get up. It's the simple pleasures!

I just want to, while I'm thinking of it, wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving. May you be mindful of the blessings you've received and the blessing YOU are to others. Thank you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And to share some of my morning with you...

This is just an example of me helping a student make a wise decision this morning. The life of an educator never ends:

     Really? You're sick? Hmm...why am I more inclined to believe you failed to do your homework?

     Really, you're only thinking of everyone else and don't want them to catch your sickness? That's nice, but what about the fact that your homework was to edit/give feedback to a classmate's paper and the ONLY thing we're doing in class today is having you discuss the feedback?

     Really? You won't be in class today? Well, I guess you automatically lose 60 peer grading/editing points and can't revise your essay (which is worth nearly half your grade) at a later date.

     Really? You're going to show up to class today? That's nice of you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Lovin' My Last Semester!

Okay, so maybe I'm not IN my last semester of graduate school yet, but I have my schedule planned! Although I talked about taking a glass blowing class because, well, when am I ever going to get the chance to learn how to blow glass?, I opted not to sign up for it. Honestly, I'm kinda stressed about writing my thesis and next semester I'll be writing two chapters, revising the entire thing, and defending it. That's a lot of work in such a short span of time, so I want to just focus on getting through it. Oh, and I kinda need to do a good job so I can graduate. Yeah. Not too much pressure.

Luckily for me I have my class and teaching schedule pretty much figured out. I'll be taking two grad level classes, thesis credits, and only teaching one class--which is the same class I'm teaching THIS semester, so I basically already have my lessons and assignments created and figured out, I'll just be reorganizing them over the Winter Break. My classes? Well, unfortunately none of them feed into my thesis, but I have to take something! They're both by the same professor, whom I adore!, and are literature based. Luckily for me I'll be reading a lot of new books I haven't read before (but hopefully a few I have).

One class is entirely focused on writings by Toni Morrison. I haven't read any of her books, yes, that means I haven't read Beloved, but my favorite time frame of literature is contemporary American Lit, so this is great! The other class is called "Story Chronicles," which intrigues me as well. Admittedly I always think of the SNL Digital Short: Lazy Sunday when I think of the title of this class. "The Chronic(WHAT)cles of Narnia!" Okay, so the Chronicles of Narnia aren't exactly the ideal example of the story chronicles I'll be reading. Basically the criteria are shorter stories in a book that have a similar theme or purpose, and written by the same author. Examples of these would be 1,001 Arabian Nights, The Sketch Book of Geoffry Crayon, Gent. (containing stories like "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle"), and The House on Mango Street. It'll be interesting to see what I wind up reading.

Oh, and the best part of it all? I only have to be on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays! I take and teach classes on those days. They're long days, but no longer than I spend on campus now. The rest of the days of the week are free and clear with four-day weekends in my here's hoping I spend a lot of time in the library/office doing research and writing!

I should really be grading my student's homework right now, but I've been procrastinating. -sigh- I should be an adult and get to work, so g'night and thank you to everyone for your comments, I love to read them and hear from you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Results Are In...

So I got the email from Teach For America today and they politely told me that they were not going to extend me an offer to join their program. So it looks like my calendar just cleared up for the next two years.

Do I feel bad or upset about their decision? Not really. I figure everything happens for a reason and something better will come up. This was just an avenue to explore and it came to a dead end, and I'm fine with that. Now the search continues for what to do after graduation in May and the options are endless.

I'm pretty sure I need to take a break from taking classes though. I'm pretty burned out and think I need to take some time off. I can't imagine my fellow grad students who haven't had a break any more substantial than summer breaks since they started kindergarten. Honestly! Sure, they'll be getting their masters in their early 20's, but that's still a huge chunk of life in academia and many of them have voiced how nervous they are to leave it. This has been their life for nearly 20 years and now their plans are unsubstantial.

So...I guess I'll just try to figure it out and we'll see what happens. If you have any suggestions...I'm all ears!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sloughing off the Unnecessary

What a terrible sounding word: sloughing. Even spelling it I feel tainted, but it adequately expresses how I'm feeling lately.

I love to streamline and pare down things I own. While I don't enjoy the moving experience overall, I do like deciding what I really need and what I can give away, donate, or throw away. I get a sense of freedom with the less amount of "things" I own. Right now I have a pile of clothes just waiting to be donated to Goodwill and I'm mentally deciding what I can get rid of and what I actually need when I move in May (to wherever that may be). Sloughing unnecessary things from my arsenal of items is exciting to me.

In a likewise manner, asking forgiveness or repenting is a similar action. By apologizing and asking for forgiveness I am able to let go of the weight of guilt, anxiety, and sorrow that I may be carrying with me. As I stated in an earlier post, I rarely apologize unless it's sincere and today I apologized for how my earlier actions made my roommate feel. Apparently she had been holding in a lot of feelings and things, many of which were expressed tonight. My response? Well, at least now it's out in the open and everyone knows about it and we can stop tip-toeing around.

Apparently I had been doing some things that annoyed or bothered her and, that's okay and bound to happen when people live together, but just let me know what annoys you and I'll try to change what I'm doing or saying. Now I know and now I'll be more aware and try to change. I can't change unless you point out my flaws, so now I can add to my list of pending improvements.

On a lighter note, tomorrow I find out about Teach For America! You'll be the second to know...after me...who will be the first. See how I did that? Yea, I know. I'm a nerd, but I'm okay with that!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sometimes I'm not a very nice person

The title of this blog post is true -- sometimes I'm not. Today is a perfect example:

So I'm upstairs in my bedroom and I begin to smell garlic. Um, not the best smell, but I can live with it, especially since I cook with garlic -- so I live with it and don't think anything of it. Then, the smell gets stronger and stronger. Seriously? How much garlic is my roommate cooking with?

I go downstairs and learn that my roommate has made "garlic soup". What is in this concoction? Garlic, hot sauce, and water. Yep, that's it, and the downstairs smells rancid and I complain. Trust me, this is not my "not very nice person part." My roommate's response? She just laughs about the smell and tells me to get used to it. Seriously? Did she just blow off my seemingly legitimate complaint about the overpowering stench of garlic? Her belief is that since garlic is good for you, that a lot of garlic is even better, regardless of how it affects other people, especially those she lives with.

Okay, maybe I was a little out of bounds with my complaint about the "garlic soup" she created because, well, she's trying to be healthy. However, I take issue with people who latch onto healthy foods, without realizing their diets need to be well-rounded. Not just subsist on garlic and variations thereof.

So after my complaint about the garlic soup what does she dish herself up a bowl of: sauerkraut. Seriously? Is she trying to kill my already injured sense of smell?

Let me give you a little bit of background on this roommate. Lately she seems to be obsessed with her weight and working on losing "ten pounds," but she's not trying to do it the healthy way. Yesterday she had pickles for dinner, and finished off the large jar for breakfast. Today all she had eaten was her garlic soup and sourkraut...oh, and she told me she got lettuce today I should be proud of her. Seriously? She doesn't exercise, she's just looking at a quick fix, and she takes other things to help her lose weight. Honestly, me and my other roommate are worried about her, her eating habits, and her "weight issues". Any advice?

Oh, and to me not being a very nice person? So, I had mixed up some hot cocoa and once the roommate in question whipped out the sauerkraut and laughed about my additional comment about being sensitive to other people in the house and told me to deal with it, what did I do? I went into the downstairs bathroom and grabbed a can of deoderizing spray and sprayed it in the air in the kitchen.

Her response? She complained about the smell, told me I was being inconsiderate, that I didn't need to spray that around her food, thus getting it in her sauerkraut, and she slammed the door to her bedroom when she went inside. Trust me, my mug of cocoa was much closer to the spray than her food, I pointed out that what I did was just as inconsiderate as what she had done, and it's not like the spray would/did change the taste of her food and my drink -- I drank all my cocoa. Alright, like I said, sometimes I'm not a very nice person.

The result? Well, I still haven't apologized. I probably will, but right now I still don't feel sorry for it. I don't want to extend an insincere apology, and that's what it would be if I gave one right now.

Right now I'm just counting down the days until the 21st of November when I am house/dog sitting some people's home for a week and I don't have to deal with this particular roommate. I'm just biding my time until I graduate and live on my own again. I'm tired of dealing with roommates. Everyone, no matter how much you truly love and like them, can get on your nerves after awhile.

Sorry, just had to vent.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I've seen a bunch of friends planning on doing daily Facebook posts on what they are thankful for this month...since it is the month of Thanksgiving, but I've decided to let you in on my thank-a-tudes all at once in stead of one-a-day. Please remember, if you're not on this list, it's not because I'm not thankful for you, it's just that my cup runneth over and these are in no particular order:
  1. My trials and tribulations. Even though they're painful and difficult, they afford me opportunities to grow.
  2. My family -- as wild and crazy and disjointed and crazy and loud and...did I mention they are, I love them and know that if I need them, they'll be there for me as best they can.
  3. Friends -- past, present, and future. Those people who keep me grounded, are brutally honest, and have an abundance of love and support to give.
  4. Books. I. Love. Books. I have since I was a child and that is a love affair I hope continues until the day I die.
  5. The opportunity to be nearing the end of a goal, that of getting my Masters. It took awhile to go back to college, but I made it and I'm almost done!
  6. My dog. Great listener, excited to see me every time, forgiving, loving, and fabulous bed warmer.
  7. Jeep Cherokee. It's the car I've wanted since high school and before I quit working my "adult" job I finally got the car I'd been dreaming about. I love being able to use the hitch, throw my dog in the back, and drive across state lines to see family.
  8. Hot Apple Cider. Memories and warmth, all in one!
  9. Converse/Chuck Taylor's/greatest brand of timeless shoes ever invented.
  10. Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist perfume. My favorite smell!
  11. Nieces and nephews. They let me flex my mothering and spoiling muscles whenever I want. Love ya!
  12. Jeans. I can't imagine having to wear dresses all the time -- a'la Pioneer days.
  13. Jergens Ultra Healing lotion. It's the only lotion I use because it doesn't creep me out with an oily feeling on my hands.
  14. Painted toe nails. Even in the dead of Idaho winters, it's still nice to have a glimpse of summer on my feet.
  15. Fresh flowers. They just automatically make a room brighter, cleaner, and more cheerful. I don't care what kind, just as long as they're real.
  16. Baseball hats. Great for on-the-go, just-woke-up, and haven't brushed my crazy curly hair days.
  17. My yellow quilt my mom made for me over 20 years ago for Christmas. I still have it, it hasn't fallen apart yet, and I swear it's the warmest blanket ever...probably because it was made with love.
  18. Autumn. See the posting below for further.
  19. Rain and thunderstorms. I love the latent power within a thunderstorm, but ultimately it is nourishing to all growing things below.
  20. Post-it-Notes. Seriously? How did the world survive without this accidental invention?
  21. Chapstick. It's the only stuff I put on my lips. Not a lipstick or lip gloss kinda girl. Just plain old Chapstick.
  22. Slippers. Although I tend to be hot all the time, there's nothing like a fluffy pair of slippers to but me in the relaxation mood.
  23. The Atonement, that lets me know I can be forgiven of my sins and start each day fresh...if I put in the work.
  24. Modern communication technology (like cell phones, computers, Internet, etc.), that allow me to keep in contact with so many people who would have been relegated to my memories if not for technology.
  25. Cyrus O'Leary's Turtle Cheescakes. Oh, yum!
  26. Indoor plumbing. I've gone without for a week, but would rather have indoor bathrooms than digging holes or packing in and out.
  27. Soundmates: things that create white noise so I can sleep at night and not be bothered by loud roommates or stupid people walking down my street.
  28. Electric toothbrushes. Anything that can make brushing my teeth seem more fun is something to be thankful for.
  29. Duct tape. C'mon, you had to know it was going to show up on a list somewhere. I use it way more than I should, but it has been indispensable more often than not.
  30. You...but I bet you're probably already on this list. You have been an influence on my life and I am thankful everyday that I have known you.
Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to express your gratitude every day. It doesn't cost you a cent to say "Thank You," but it can be priceless to the recipient.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sad, but true advice.

Check out this link for a sad, but true discussion of getting a PhD and Masters in the Humanities. So funny that I laugh until I cry each time!

Watch it for me!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Word of the Week

My current favorite word to use and integrate into sentences is the word "smarmy." defines this word as: (adj.) excessively or unctuously flattering, ingratiating, servile, etc..  Synonyms for smarmy are: buttery, fulsome, insincere, oily, oleaginous, sleek, smooth, smug, suave (

This word has negative connotations, but I think the reason why I like it so much is because it's so much fun to say. SM - ARMY. Repeat after me..."smarmy." Good job!

Honestly, that's about all I got tonight. It'll still be a couple of weeks until I know about Teach For America; I'm finalizing my final semester as a graduate student (looking into taking a glass blowing class because -- well, when else am I going to have the opportunity to try my hand at it?) as well as figuring out what/when I'm going to teach my last class. Oh, yeah...and I have a bunch of research I need to do for my OWN papers and thesis.

A graduate student's life is never done...until May!

On the family front, my older sister Susan had their beautiful baby boy, Jacob, on October 25th. He was born with Downs Syndrome, which could be viewed as a trial, but I think he'll be more of a blessing than anything else. I can't wait to meet my 25th...or is it 26th...niece/nephew! Holy-moley that's a lot of grandkids for my parents!

I can't wait to meet Jacob and hope to do so in the next couple of weeks! Until I check in next time...Love ya!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Top 10 Reasons Why Autumn is my Favorite Season...

...these are in no particular order of ranking -- since I love them all:
  1. I can drink hot apple cider and cocoa without overheating.
  2. The trees are aflame.
  3. Sweater weather!
  4. Frost makes me wish I were an artist because museum-quality frost etchings adorn my windshield every morning.
  5. Holidays are coming!
  6. Crisp mornings and temperate afternoons are awesome!
  7. I feel much less guilty sitting inside and reading a book.
  8. Fireplaces are used for more than just "looking pretty."
  9. I can see my breath...which oddly reminds me of spelling my name with sparklers/punks for the 4th of July. Like I said, odd.
  10. My crockpot starts to get a workout.
Happy autumn all!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Results Pending

So...I've jumped through all the hoops necessary for the Teach For America Program. I've done all the interviews; dotted my I's and crossed my T's, so we'll see how it all marinates and tastes in November. I don't know how I did and I won't know until around November 9th-ish. All I know is that I tried my hardest, did my best, and I wouldn't change anything I said or did. If they like and want me, than great. If they don't, then I don't want to work for them.

Relatively speaking the entire day-long process was really low-key. I did a 5-minute lesson plan I had used in my classes earlier, actively participated in group work, and feel like I presented myself and articulated my thoughts, ideas, and beliefs to the best of my ability. I can't ask for anything other than that.

If I don't get into the program I won't feel like I failed, I'll just know that wasn't the place for me right now and focus on other possibilities after graduation. I truly believe that this mindset and attitude was the key to my peace overall. As I've posted earlier, I can only control what's in my boat. As of right now, it's out of my hands and there's nothing else I can do.

I do want to say thank you to everyone for your encouragement and uplifting words throughout the process. I have had so many people just compliment me and my teaching abilities and it's always nice to have validation that you do your job well. So, thank you and I'll keep you posted about what the final outcome is.

Talk at you later!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Post Pending

I know you're excited to find out how the interview went, and I'd love to tell you, but I have to get to school. I swear I'll write later today to update y'all. Until then, here's the song I'm currently crushing on, "Wanted" by Rachel Diggs, and here's a link to the song :

You don't think you're special
You don't think you're strong
But when the sky is falling
You feel like you belong

It might not be obvious
But you're not alone
We're going to let you wander
But never on your own

And I don't know if I can help you
You could tell me all you need
Its all right, You're wanted
Tonight it's alright
You're wanted

And your expectations
Are killing you slow
You're getting what you wanted
But pain is all you know

You've got a new life now
There's much that you see
But those that really know you
Are few and far between

And I don't know if they will help you
Do you tell them all you need?
Its all right you're wanted
Tonight it's alright
You're wanted

And you couldn't be more wrong
When you say it won't be long
Til the stars are gone
And you, you've got to see
When you bleed you're never free
'cause life's not that easy.

But tonight it’s alright
You're wanted
Tonight it's alright
You're wanted
Tonight it's alright
You're wanted

And the moral is? Yep, YOU ARE WANTED!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Posting #100

Um, where's my award? I mean, according to blogger this is my one-hundreth posting, so.....? C'mon!
  • Willard Scott recognizes people who are celebrating their 100+ birthdays.
  • Sitcoms have a cake when they've made/aired their 100th episode.
  • People traditionally receive a letter from the President of the United States when they turn 100.
  • There are lists of "100 best..." everywhere.
  • I mean, you hear more about the "99 bottles of beer on the wall.." than "100 bottles of beer on the wall..." Think about it, it's true.
So as my 100th posting I thought I'd do something special...but I couldn't come up with anything. Sorry!

Instead, I'll close with the American Film Institute (AFI) top 100 movie quotes -- drum roll please -- and the #1 quote is "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone With the Wind. And I express the same sentiment for your failure to give me an award because "I'll be back." (quote #37).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

English Theory - bleh

Let me just say I'm more of a composition kinda gal (maybe that's why I want to teach high school English), but this English theory stuff is pretty dense and hard to wade through in an effort to create understanding. For those of you who aren't familiar with English theory, just stop reading this post now. The rest of this rant probably won't make much sense to you and I recommend you don't try to figure out what I'm'll thank me later.

So in the last two weeks I've read Derrida, Althusser, Foucault, Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche, Heiddegger, Deleuze, and now Judith Butler. Seriously? My brain hurts -- and not in a good way. I know, I know, I have nothing to complain about, but at this point I can't wait to be done with classes and not have to read 94 word long sentences like this gem from Butler:

"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power."

Yeah, is your brain hurting too? Let me know when you understand what she just said, because I need to go find some asprin and head to class.

Later 'gator!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

When did I become the man in this relationship?

I just about laughed until I cried tonight. As I was sitting in my room grading papers...okay, maybe I was just surfing the 'net...but anyway, as I was minding my own business my roommate, Christiana, started yelling my name from downstairs.

"Patty! Patty come here! Patty get down here right now! PATTY!"

My response? "What!?!" In my head I said: "What's the big deal. Sheesh!"

She kept on yelling and was soon screeching (yes, like a banshee) and I was getting more and more annoyed.

"I'm coming!" I responded as I walked (not ran) downstairs and saw Christiana perched on top of the side board/buffet in our dining room.

My first response? A big smile followed with, "What are you doing up there?"

Christiana just pointed into the kitchen and said "Mouse."

Okay, we have a mouse. So. She's a thirty year-old woman, what does she want me to do about it? I'll tell you what. As she continued to perch on the side board and crane her neck around the doorjam she directed me to where she last saw the mouse. Honestly? When did I become the man in this obviously disfunctional relationship? I already seem to be the go-to person that gets elected to tell the landlord when there's a problem with the house, so now I'm elected to be the mouse killer? Sheesh. Fine. (That may be part of my problem, giving in too easily, but really, I'd rather deal with something head-on instead of tip-toeing around it.)

So I'm barefoot, in my pajamas, and starting to dismantle the counter where Christiana last saw the mouse. I have a hotpad in one hand (I honestly don't know what I was going to do with that) and a plastic pitcher held upside down by the handle (I figured I could trap the mouse when it scurried across the counter before it hid again). As I moved stuff from the corner my roommate pointed to I kept on expecting the mouse to spring on my neck and attack, like the rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie. Good times!

So I got to the last item (a big bag of rice) and with baited breath I lifted the bag and...


Yep. Absolutely nothing. Christiana swears her eyes never left the place where she saw the mouse go and there aren't any holes in that corner. Looks like Mighty Mouse has taken up abode in our house. On the shopping list now: mouse traps.

I put the kitchen back to rights and went to leave the kitchen and Christiana was still on top of the side board. I couldn't take it any longer and started laughing. I offered to put on the tea kettle or get her a glass of water from the kitchen, if that's what she was initially wanting, but she assurred me that she was fine...and then made Sage (my dog) go into the kitchen with her as a guard dog. Um, yeah.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Buckle down for a long one!

So, for those of you who are just joining my blogging attempts, let me catch you up. I'm in my 2nd year of Grad School at the Univeristy of Idaho, Moscow, ID, I teach English 102 at the university, and am in the midst of the Teach For America interview process. Teach For America is a group that works at lessening the education/achievement gap in low income areas throughout the United States. They have hundreds of corps members (also known as teachers) who teach for two years in disadvantaged areas while earning a teaching certificate, furthering their education, earning money to pay back student loans, and make a difference in the lives of their students. So, yep, I'm trying to join this crew.

I've successfully completed the application and interview process and will be completing the day-long interview, teaching, etc. process in a couple of weeks. I should know by the middle of November if they want me or not. Either way, at least I'll have something settled. Either I'll have a job next fall or I can shift my attention to planning the rest of my life in a different direction.

I went online and picked my "preferred geographic locations" to teach in if I'm accepted. Most of them are in the east or south. It looks like the program is hoping to open up a post in the Seattle/Tacoma area (which would be nice since I have family there), but ultimately I decided it's not my first choice because I'd like to travel, live, and see other parts of this country to see if the Northwest really is the bees-knees I think it is. In my preference order I asked to teach high school, then middle school, then Pre-K to elementary. Here's how my geographic preferences broke down, in case you were wondering:
  • Highly Preferred: Eastern North Carolina, Mississippi Delta, Nashville, South Dakota, and South Louisiana
  • Preferred: Alabama, Appalachia (Eastern Kentucky), Las Vegas Valley, Seattle & Tacoma Area, Charlotte, Colorado, Kansas City, Hawai'i, New Mexico, Memphis, Newark, Rhode Island
  • Least Preferred: Everywhere else. Pretty much this list is way too long for this blog.
So there you have it. I'll let you know what happens and IF I'm recruited (which is highly competitive because, according to their site, only 12% of applicants get offered a position).  Fingers crossed!

And the second half of this marathon-long posting:

As usual, I've been feeling as though I am constantly running around and not really accomplishing anything. I'm treading water in the classes I take and eeking by in the classes I teach. It's not the best feeling for my spirit and peace of mind. As I was reading a friend's blog I appreciated the message of one of her postings:
 Try Harder.
I can, and do, whine and complain about how hard my life supposedly is, but am I trying hard enough to accomplish what is necessary or my goals? I could try harder to plan lessons ahead, spend more time reading and comprehending required readings, run farther on the treadmill, try harder in strengthening relationships, etc. We all could try harder, but oftentimes we don't.

Television and the Internet are huge time sucks for me. I can't tell you the number of times I've sat down to watch television for only half an hour and then, two hours later, I'm still in the same place. My apartment just got satellite and I can honestly say that I didn't miss the year without television. I spent less time goofing off and more time preparing and learning. This is all an excuse, I know. I should try harder to avoid the tv at all costs. Why not? I know it's a black hole vortex of time, but I don't try to stay away.

I just need to try harder in every aspect of my life so that I can be the most successful, centered, and grounded person I can be. Wish me luck on the journey and, repeat afte me, TRY HARDER!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Before you ask, let me just tell you...

I love you!

Yep, you heard right. I. Love. You. So, if you're feeling down or like no one is on your side, or meh, just remember...

You are loved.

Oh, yeah, I also have been invited to participate in the final step in the Teach For America process: all-day interview, teaching, etc., in Spokane, WA in a couple of weeks. Just in case THAT is what you were going to ask.  :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plugging Along!

Honestly nothing new to report. It's not like I have a new car (Becca), have moved (Cathy and Randy), or am expecting a baby (Susan and K.C.). The only thing I'm looking forward to? Bedtime. Yep, I'm easy to please.

I'm contemplating the 75+ pages of English theory I'm supposed to understand (ha, ha. That's a good one) by class tomorrow, the reading I haven't done but hope to finish in the hour before a different class, and the impending submission of Essay 2 my students have on Wednesday. Serentity Now!

Everyone says teaching is easier when you aren't taking classes and, right now, I'm clinging to that belief...that and the chocolate cake that is oozing between my clenched fist! Okay, maybe not that last part, but I'm clinging baby!  :)

I will know by Thursday whether or not I have a face-to-face, all day interview for the Teach For America program. I'm hoping so. I don't think I bombed the telephone interview, but I've been wrong before...not lately, but before. I think I was three and believed Santa Claus was real. Yep, I think that was the last time I was wrong.

Okay, enough procrastinating for me. Procrastination is the postponement of pain and I'm getting a Charlie Horse. 'Night!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ketchup-ing Up!

Okay, I'll admit this posting has nothing to do with ketchup -- the condiment -- but I'm tired and I get a little loopy when tired. Here's a quick update on me, my deadlines, my life, and anything else that mangages to escape my brain and land on the keyboard.

I did the Teach For America telephone interview on Monday afternoon. How did I do? Honestly, I don't know. There was some miscommunication on a question as what she was saying and what I heard were two different things, but I think we got that straightened out. She was obviously reading from a script and had to write down my answers to her questions, so there were a lot of awkward pauses and such. Needless to say her verbal feedback was non-existent, so I don't know how I did, but I should find out next Friday if they want me to do a face-to-face all day battery of interview, mock teaching, etc. Cross your fingers -- but I'm not sure for what. Do I want the job, sure. Would I be crushed if I didn't get it, no. One of the major pluses of going through this process is that by November, at the latest, I'll know for sure if I'm in or not and I can start making plans either way.

I also finished my Thesis proposal this week. Yipes! It's getting real and getting real close! While I was deciding what I wanted to write my chapters on I actually started to feel a lot better about how much writing/research I've already done for this capstone project. I'm taking a class right now that I intend to have as one of my chapters of my thesis, I wrote a previous paper that acted as the impetus for my thesis topic which, although in it's entirety it won't work, I can break it up into smaller components and weave it into other chapters; and then I only have one more chapter to write. My ambitious goal is to have my thesis drafted out by the beginning of January so I can spend my final semester overhauling and revising it like crazy! I'm hoping that by working myself to the bone this semester that I'll have less stress in my last semester as I have to talk about and defend my thesis against other graduate students, English faculty, and any other hapless soul who accidently wanders into the room during my thesis defense.

The rest of my week? I've just been dragging myself out of bed and trying to make it through the day.

Wow, what an exciting life I lead. But hey, it's my life and I'll take it...I'm used to it!

'Night and I'll try to do better at keeping y'all in the loop (sorry Mom and Dad!).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yeah for me!

Just five more days and I'm through September. Yeah for me!

Boo for me...I still haven't started my thesis proposal that is due at the end of the five days.

I have a telephone interview for the Teach For America program on Monday. Yeah for me!

Boo for me...I had to pick up dog poop (thanks Sage) this morning...

...but it was in the yard and not the house. Yeah for me!

Boo for me...I was sick this week and still had to grade student's essays.

I got the title of my car = my car is paid off! Yeah for me!

Boo for me ... um, I really have nothing else to complain about. Yeah for me!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Learning to Settle

Okay, so I'm working on my English M.A. (Rhetoric & Composition emphasis) and I'm unhappy. Not because of the class/teaching load. Um...that's kinda a lie. I'll admit I'm not altogether pleased at how much time I spend at my desk versus time I could be spending outside enjoying the weather. I'm unhappy because I can't read as much as I'd like to.

Don't worry your pretty little head, I do read a lot. In fact, I have 70 pages of reading (and trust me, it's not light/mind candy reading) I need to do before classes tomorrow, but it's not really what I WANT to read. If anyone has ever seen my bookshelf you'll know it's full to bursting and it's just getting more packed. I love to go shopping at my local Costco/Hastings/Barnes & Noble, etc. and I can't seem to make it out of the store without one or more books in hand. The problem? I don't have time to read them. Needless to say I have a huge pile of books just waiting for me to finish my schooling and start reading. The authors include Azar Nafisi, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Stieg Larsson, Elie Wiesel, C.S. Lewis, Kathryn Stockett, Barbara Kingsolver, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and others. Right now my pile of never-read-books is 14 books high, and likely to get taller before the school year is out.

Now, you may think all I read are boring books, but that's not true. I've loved reading Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," works by Poe, Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Faulkner, Cather, Canin, Defoe, Steinbeck, Bradbury, McCarthy, Dahl, Edson, Twain, Lee, and a ton of other, but they've all been tied to "required" readings for class. I will admit most of the books were good because, well, there's a reason they've lasted so long and are classics (although I will admit that I'm not a huge fan of "The Great Gatsby." Yell and curse me all you want, but all I really want to do is smack the main characters upside the head and tell them to get a life! Sorry, a little emotional there).

Anyway, the moral of this posting? I'm just going to have to learn to settle for the classics and dense rhetorical theory books for the next few months and then I'll treat myself to the pile of never-reads that will join my list of I-have-reads. You've got to experience the pain before you truly appreciate the pleasure.

As always, I'm open to any of YOUR favorite books. I always love to find a new author or story. Send 'em my way!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sick to...

"No! It's not tasty to me!"

Those were the words a three-year-old little boy told his older sister today when they were picking out a "treat" in the grocery store. I had to smile at their antics and enthusiasm as I lacked both. Me? I'm sick right now. No, it's not anything serious. The flu/cold/strep is making the rounds at school and I just have a cold. The doctor (I went because I wanted to catch it early if it was strep) apologized to me when we found out it was just a cold and not the strep we worried about. Um, he's sorry I'm not more sick? Nope. He was just sorry he didn't have a prescription he could give me to make me better sooner. So I get to drink lots of fluids, sleep A LOT, lather on the Vick's, eat the throat losenges like they're candy, and anything else that makes me feel better.

You want to know what would make me feel better? Having my mom fuss over me. Yep, I'm a HUGE baby when I'm sick. I know that's a comment that is often said about guys when they get sick, but I do it too. I think it's our attempt to return to our childhood when a mom's kiss healed a boo-boo, her warm hug was the best comforter, her voice scared the boogey-man and nightmares from our darkened bedrooms, and we could do no wrong. Yep, those were good times!

Instead, I get into my rattiest blue jeans, dilapitated hoodie that I've had for years (falling apart, literally, at the seams and the zipper is broken), warmest and most comfortable shoes, forgo the make-up and just pull my hair back. Screw it! I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm just trying to be as comfortable as I can be while trolling the grocery aisle looking for over-the-counter drugs and homey remedies from my childhood.

Vick's Vapor Rub? Check. Alka-Seltzer Cold & Flu Gel caps? Check. Halls Fruit Breezers? Check. Lemon-lime soda pop (which, by the way, breaks my three month stretch of not drinking anything carbonated. The things we do when we're sick.)? Check. Orange juice? Check. Fudge-cicles (we always got them, as kids, when we were ill)? Um, not really that appetizing -- uncheck. Bubble bath? Check.

All set and standing in line at the check-out. Looks like the girl talked her little brother into agreeing on a treat. Yep, they picked the frosted animal cookies. Good choice!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ode to the Super Sundae

I recevied an email from my Dad with his ponderings today. His comment of our family's infamous Super Sundae reminded me of this short piece of writing I had done in my undergraduate degree. Hope you enjoy!
Although I come from a family of ten children, my clan is no different from many others; we just do everything on a larger scale. Some families gather around a 15 pound turkey at Thanksgiving, but ours tips the scale closer to 40…and we usually don’t have leftovers! Ordering two large pizzas is never enough for us, we always order closer to eight or ten. Likewise, our dessert is no different.

While some households make due with a single scoop of ice cream, multiply that by 100 and you have something closer to our dessert: the Super Sundae! At first glance this delicious delight appears to be a bowl of melting peaks covered with a conglomeration of candy. Gummy Bears attempt to climb the slippery mountains as a crowd of M&M’s, Skittles, sprinkles, and Neccos cheer them on from the gooey valleys below. Whipped cream covers the pinnacles and you can actually see a low pressure weather front move in as these fluffy clouds slide lower.

Our sundae may appear complicated and difficult to make, but creating this assault on the taste buds is actually quite easy. Take the largest bowl you have (as you can imagine, ours is bigger than most) and set it aside. Then hop in the car, with all your kids, and head to the grocery store. Because we have ten children in my family, we each get to pick a component of the sundae. There are three, half-gallon ice creams whose flavors need to be chosen; in addition to at least two traditional toppings (my family prefers butterscotch and chocolate). After the framework for the sundae has been determined, let the remaining decision-makers go crazy in the candy aisle. I’ve eaten everything from black licorice (I only remember trying it once) to Skittles (they freeze in ice cream and can break a tooth) to peanut butter cups (a family favorite) to frozen strawberries (an attempt at “healthy”) in a decadant Super Sundae.

You would think with all the competing sweet treats and textures our mishmash of a confection would be unappetizing, but you’d be incorrect. As flavors battle each other and burst in the mouth, it almost becomes a game to see if you can pick out the different tastes, all without losing a tooth.

This traditional dessert is comparable to my family. With so many different personalities, ideas, temperaments, intellects, likes, and dislikes, you would imagine my family doesn’t go together, but again, you would be wrong. Sure there’s a 20 year difference between the oldest and youngest child, there are seven girls and three boys, and one child doesn’t even look like any of the rest of us because he’s adopted, but we’re one unit. Yes, at times, there are strains and disagreements between us, but if you hurt one, you hurt us all. That’s my random, crazy family, but they’re my favorite family and I wouldn’t ever trade them for a plain scoop of ice cream. Just like all the components of the Super Sundae, we may have different exteriors, interiors, and any other kind of “-terior,” but when put together, we become something delicious, beautiful, and a delight to the taste buds.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Take in the Panorama, not the Microcosm

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about perspectives. I try to teach my students to look at things from varying viewpoints and rhetorical stances, because, well, I teach Rhetoric & Composition. I’m constantly reminding them to consider someone else’s point of view as they make or argue points. My main hope is that they learn to question their opinions, beliefs, and assumptions. One of those ways, I believe, is to make them vary their perspectives -- sometimes they see the tree, but fail to see the forest.

Oftentimes, though, I think we consider perspectives in the sense of distance. Think about it. When you look back at your childhood (from an adult’s perspective) and imagine how differently you would act or do things now, as compared to 5, 10, 15, or more years ago, you’re doing so from a distance. Maybe you’re someone who sees a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store and think of how you would handle the situation differently – again, from a removed distance.

One of’s definitions of perspective is:

the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship:
You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.

Again, this definition highlights the distance aspect, but I think that instead of gaining perspectives from a distance spatially, time, or any other forms, more often than not we gain perspectives from contrasts. Think about it. Many times our outlooks, “ideas, the facts known to one, etc.,” aren’t realized or solidified until they are compared to something else. This has especially become evident as I compare my life to that of someone else.

My life has especially come into perspective as I’ve looked at my slight struggles and compared them to those of my family members. I don’t have cancer, I haven’t been told my unborn baby will be a special needs child, I haven’t been rushed to the hospital with a medical emergency, had to parry the legal system in the hopes of adopting my foster children – while in the midst of moving to another state, started a new business, and any one of a number of other significant life altering changes. No. I struggle with a deadline, writing/grading papers, and … um, yeah. My struggles may be “major” to me, but are minor in the grand scheme of things. THIS is the perspective I need to remember.

Now, I’m not saying that our various and personal struggles aren’t important – because they are – I’m just saying that they need to be kept in perspective. My struggles aren’t life and death, but they may be the life and death of my academic career. However, that’s something I can ultimately live with.

I know we’re told it’s not healthy to compare ourselves to others because we’ll never measure up; however, I’m talking about taking a different kind of measure. This isn’t a competition to see who is the greatest martyr or has/is dealing with the greatest trials, I’m just saying that taking stock and altering one’s perspective and attitude, in relation to the grand scheme of things, is sometimes necessary and always helpful.

Oh Happy Day!

Today is a wonderful day, for many reasons:
  1. It's Friday. 'Nuff said.
  2. I found out I passed my German Translation Exam, so I don't have to worry about taking any more foreign language classes!
  3. I finished and submitted my Teach For America application. Accepted or not, it's out of my hands and I don't have to worry about it...well, until the 23rd when I find out if I've been invited for an interview or not.
  4. Did I mention it's Friday?
  5. I went to dinner at Pizza Hut with my roommate Gabby and I laughed so hard I snorted. Yep. I'm just thankful I wasn't drinking anything when I laughed that hard. Cheeks hurt from smiling, but it's a good kind of pain.
  6. And my bed is waiting for me to reintroduce myself to it. "Hello Mr. Bed. I know we've been strangers, but I'd like to introduce myself to you. I'm Patty and I'm tired. May I join you? ................... He said yes!!!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Patty's Deep Thoughts...

...nope. I got nothing.

I was sitting here thinking that you don't get enough of my witticisms, sarcastic takes on life, pity-me pleas for sympathy, and anecdotes about my dog -- man, do I sound pathetic -- but as I'm sitting her staring at a blank screen I realize I don't have anything to share. So I'll let you go about your day and accomplish something without being annoyed by me.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Don't Forget to Turn in your Crayons...

Honestly, I don't think you hear that phrase often enough in a college setting, but my students heard it today. Ohmygosh the excitement (and occasional squeal of excitement) that came out of 50+ students when I started unloading my bag for class.

Today was peer review day and I had them "color" another student's paper as they looked for particular things (counter arguments, concessions, thesis, etc.). I kept a few of the students from walking out with the crayons in hand (little kleptos), but overall it was a fun class period.

Now what fun activity can I think up next time so my students stay engaged? I'm open to any suggestions!

P.S. I took my German-English translation test today and I should know in the next few days how I did. Cross your fingers I get a "C" so I don't have to take it again or any language classes!

And they keep getting closer...

(da-dum. da-dum. da-dum) Okay, that was my pathetic attempt at eerie music, but that's all I've got. Take it or leave it.

My deadlines are getting closer and this week two of them are looming. In approximately one hour I will be attempting my German-English translation exam to see if I can stop fretting and fussing over filling the Foreign Language Requirement for my Masters. The second is the deadline application for Teach For America. I just need to finish my resume' and get it, and my letter of intent, proofread and submitted. Then I only have to worry about whether or not I get an interview as well as get Letters of Recommendations from past teachers/co-workers/department heads/etc.

Just five more days and I'm, wait! Friday and my students turn in their first final draft for me. Oooohhh. That should be interesting!