Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Does This Make Me….

…a bad person?

After I taught my 8:30 class on Monday morning I had an email from my boss stating that she had received a complaint from a student. In the complaint the student stated I had offended her and made fun of people with disabilities. What?!?! I was gobsmacked and had no idea what the student was talking about. The email asked me to go and talk to my boss at my earliest convenience. Needless to say I hustled my butt up to my boss’ office and we had a little chit-chat.

Can I just say it’s so reassuring and nice when your boss has your back. She asked me about the situations described in the student’s email and I explained that I honestly don’t recall ever saying, “That’s stupid,” when responding to the student state her opinion. Really? I’ve told my students, and truly believe, that their opinions matter – regardless of whether or not I agree with them. They have perspectives, life experiences, and viewpoints I don’t have and approach a subject/topic differently than I do. I respect what they have to say and have often learned and amended my own opinions based on what they’ve expressed in class and in their papers, so hearing that I told a student her opinion was “stupid” shocked me. I honestly don’t believe I would have told her, or anyone, what they thought was stupid. Maybe it came across that way to her, but I sincerely doubt and believe I would have said that.

Additionally the charge of offending my student was addressed. Did I offend the student? Obviously I did, but I didn’t know it. In the class we had a class discussion about a controversial topic and, although the student was a vocal and active participant in the discussion, apparently the topic discussed was offensive to her. In my email to the complaining student expressing my sorrow at offending her, I stated that my intention in the reading(s) on the topic were not to be offensive, but to generate class discussion that made the students think more critically and recognize rhetorical moves the authors of the written documents had utilized in an effort to persuade the reader to agree with them. Occasionally I have to act as the “devil’s advocate” and question what my students state or ask further questions in order to make them think deeper, but on the first day of class I told the students we would discuss controversial topics in order to make them more critical thinkers.

So what was the verdict? I don’t know. The student never responded to my email apology or invitation to come and meet with me so we could talk one-on-one and she dropped my course.

My feelings? Anger, relief, and sadness. Angry because the student felt it necessary to complain to the dean, my boss, and apparently nearly everyone else … but she never took the initiative to discuss her problems and concerns with me. I had to hear her feedback a week later from my boss. Am I bothered that my boss was involved? No, because 1) if that avenue was the one the student felt necessary to bring the incident to my attention, and make the student feel more comfortable, than so be it, and 2) my boss reassured me that what I was doing (after we discussed the topics under complaint) was my job. Her faith in my abilities and my teaching style were appreciated and welcome. Relief because I don’t have to see the student in my class and worry about offending her each time I teach. And sad, that it came to this end. I would have liked to talk to the student face to face, but it doesn’t look like that will be happening.

…a weirdo?

So I’m working on my Masters in English and in talking to another MA English student we found that both of us didn’t know where our cell phones were. Seriously, I thought it was just me. I'm the annoying person who you're lucky to get answer the phone when you're calling. My ringer is always turned off. Not put on vibrate, but turned off. So unless I'm expecting a phone call, please leave a message at the tone and I'll try to return your call as soon as possible. Thank you and have a great day!

I find it ironic that after working at the Lewiston Police Department as an E-9-1-1 calltaker and dispatcher, working in numerous offices as a secretary, assistant, or office manager, and other miscellaneous jobs, that I really don’t like talking on the phone. Can I talk on the phone? Yes. Is it my preferred mode of communication? No. Honestly? I prefer to talk via email, Facebook, texting, or on this blog (if the number of entries are to be believed). Maybe it’s all a part of being an English nerd. The written word rules!

So to answer my question above: Does this make me a weirdo? The answer is unequivocally YES!

P.S. I love you mom and am praying for you!

I have the best nieces and nephews in the world

Can I just say how much I love my family, especially my nieces and nephews. They are awesome people...not kids, but people. People who oftentimes make me want to be a better person and teach me! I'm proud to call all my nieces and nephews NOW, and in the FUTURE, my family. They rock!

Check out how my niece is reacting to the fact she is getting a little brother with Downs Syndrome...I love you Elisha!

The Ups & Downs (Syndrome) of the Allred Family: Watch Out!!!! Big Sister is in Town!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sardines in My Classroom

I’d like to say this first week of classes has been crazy insane, but I think I’d be lying to you. Overall, it's been more calm than I expected. Admittedly, being on campus from 7:30am to either 3:00pm or 5:00pm (depending on the day) is tiring, I haven't felt too overwhelemed -- but then again, I haven't been working on my thesis. -sigh-

Yes, I did pick up an additional class to teach this fall, but I’m teaching the same skill set as my other class, so the only additional work it has created, so far, is taking time out of my day and learning another 26 names (which I’m HORRIBLE at. Seriously, I have a hard time remembering names!). The drama of teaching 102; however, hasn’t finished yet. My constant thought is: “One day. One day my classes will be figured out!” I received an email earlier this week from a college senior who NEEDED to get into an English 102 class so he can be on track to graduate in May. Um, two questions: 1) why did you wait so long to complete this requirement of EVERY student at this university, and 2) see question #1. So me, in my infinite and delusional wisdom told him (and my boss, the Director of Writing) that he could add to my morning class. The problem? I now have 27 students in my class and seating for only 25/26, depending on the day of the week. So the questions become: When did the university start thinking of students and teachers as sardines, and who’s going to sit on the floor?

Honestly, the room I’m assigned is one of the most cramped classrooms I’ve been in on campus. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m someone who, when teaching, likes to walk around the room, makes big gestures with my hands, and has been known to (when necessary) sing “I’m a Little Teapot” while doing the motions. The things I do to keep my students interested! The room I am currently in makes those things difficult. I feel like I’m sentenced to teach from the corner of the room and can only dart out from behind my podium to brave the metaphorical fire-breathing dragon to write a quick phrase on the whiteboard before returning to my corner sanctuary. I’ve requested a new room, but haven’t got it yet. Next week could get interesting.

I’m still attempting to change my mind set for the classes I’m taking. I’m in graduate level English courses, which require deep thinking and a stretching of my mind. I’m sorry, but considering the materialistic rhetoric of national monuments, keeping in mind the different arguments created by whether it is travelling or stationary, as well as the foundational impetus’ or source of monetary donations of building these odes to those before, isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Have you wrapped your mind around that concept yet? Trust me, I know.

What happened to good ‘ol Spot who always seemed to be running? Can’t we go back to those simpler days?

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot this weekend, unfortunately it’s not related to school. In preparation for taking a road trip to see a sister I have switched out my headlights, windshield wipers, and fixed my shorted out front turn indicator. Any time I’m able to fix or do something to my car I feel so capable. Now I just need to get a new windshield and get my oil changed – things I’ll let the experts do. Yes, I could probably change my oil, but I’m lazy and hesitant to climb underneath my car and start loosening things up. With my luck I’d manage to loosen my front axle and the first good pothole I hit while driving would bump my car clean off of it. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but better safe than sorry. My windshield? Well, it’s weathered construction in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, and deserves to be replaced. Each crack has a memory/thought attached to it, but I’d like to remember the happy times in my car, not the times when, upon getting the crack, I mentally (or verbally) cursed the idiot who kicked up the rock in front of me on the road.

Just let the past be the past and remember that permanent markers, although writing well on whiteboards, don’t really belong there. That’s a story for next time…

Monday, August 23, 2010

From Teacher to Student

After some rearranging of my weekly schedule (basically dropping German and crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to pass the translation exam…) it looks like Mon, Wed, & Fri are days I teach while Tues/Thurs are days I am a student. So far I like that separation. Admittedly it’s only been one day, but I think being able to compartmentalize what days I need to wear which metaphorical hat is really going to help me keep my sanity in this last year.

I’m happy to say both my classes (one at 8:30am and the 2nd at 1:30pm) went well, but I think I’m going to have A LOT of fun with my afternoon class. They were talkative, engaged, and weren’t afraid to joke around with me. Yep, I think they’ll be my favorite class of this semester – especially as they’ve already started flipping me crap and we all know how much I like to dish it back!

Tomorrow (AKA Student Day) I have Ceramics and my two reading intensive classes. The first is Rhetoric: Bodies of Persuasion, and the 2nd is 19th – 21st Century American and British Lit, with an emphasis in Eco/Environmental Criticism. Um, yeah. I’m not sure what I just said there either, but let’s all agree there are a ton of books I have to read and a couple of really long papers to write by semester’s end. Oh, goody.

So as I drift into la-la land tonight, it is with the hope that I don’t wake up tomorrow in the same mood as I did today. I woke up angry because, in my dream, I was yelling at my class to calm down, listen to me, and to stop chasing the birds around the classroom. Man, Freud would have a blast with that dream!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well, it’s the dark before the dawn right now. It’s Sunday night and classes start tomorrow. As of Friday at around 3pm, I now teach two (2) English 102 – Rhetoric and Composition courses. The first class I teach is at 8:30AM (which works great for me since I’m a morning person), and the second one is at 1:30PM. Hmmmm…there’s a bit of a break between the two classes, so we’ll see how that all works out!

Right now I have my German class at 11:30, but I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I can pass the foreign language translation test and no longer have to take German. That would be a huge weight off my scholastic shoulders and free up a lot of extra time. Right now I’m on the wait list for my Ceramics class, but I don’t think it’ll be a problem getting in. There’s a lot of change during the first week of classes and I’m top of the list. Cross your fingers for me!

As the darkness of school closes in around me I see pin-pricks of light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. A little over 9 months left until graduation – that’s a child! I have a feeling writing and defending my thesis will feel a small bit like carrying and giving birth – to my thoughts and ideas. The thesis defense is going to be a bit painful as I get quizzed, questioned, and have to justify my thought processes; but it will all be worth it in the end when I have that diploma in hand and everyone starts calling me “Master”. If you want, you can start practicing saying it now … Master Patty. Ohhh! I like the sound of that! ;-p

Friday, August 20, 2010

And the Fun Just Keeps Piling Up...

So, today at around 3pm I was asked to teach ANOTHER section of English 102 (which meets on Monday afternoon) because the department lost one of its TAs, so I graciously stepped in to help. This means my already jam packed schedule is becoming more so...


There was an English Department get-together this evening and one of my previous professors, who is now in charge of all the distance learning (AKA online classes) for the entire university talked about how he has three people working on reading homework assignments and stuff for him. He then told me that if he needs another person he wants ME to come work for him. Of course I said I would be interested, but I really need to learn to say no. Sure, it's more money coming in and it's always gratifying to be specifically wanted based on my past performance of both my work and skills, but I think I keep shooting myself in the foot. If that's my goal, my aim is pretty good; if not, I need to site my scopes!

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

I’m amazed by how many people have come to visit my little blog of random and sometimes intelligible thoughts. According to my calculations, in less than two months I’ve had 500 hits on this site. WOW!

Thanks for the validation that maybe I’m okay at this writing thing … or I’m a beautiful disaster. You know, like the bearded lady at a freak show or a horrific accident on the freeway that you can’t help but rubber-neck. It’s horrible, but you don’t dare look away.

Um, I choose to believe the first reason – a girl’s gotta keep her confidence up!

Either way, thank you and I hope you’re enjoying this blog as much as I am writing it. Who knew how cathartic and freeing it would be to just get my thoughts outside of me and send them out into the great unknown. That was the sound of my stress being released through this blog.

Love ‘ya and the support you give me, both silent and written.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

I have a feeling this upcoming semester is gonna be a rough and tumble one. Classes start Monday and there is NO way I am ready for it. I’m teaching a new class (English 102) and I’m unfamiliar with the curriculum and papers the students will be assigned to write. I’ll admit that I’m tired of teaching English 101, but there’s something to be said with familiarity … okay, as I’m thinking about it, the thing I would say about it is that IT’S BORING! As I’m having a mental freak-out right now I’m also getting kind of excited. There’s just so much prep work that needs to be done and I hope I can get it done by Sunday night: syllabus, calendar, creating homework assignments, lesson plans, paper assignment sheets, setting up the Blackboard site, and all the little things I can’t think of right now.

That being said, I’m also not ready for everything I, as a student, will need to accomplish this semester. I have my thesis proposal due at the end of September, I’m applying for a possible teaching position next fall – for which the due date is the middle of September (if anyone has any tips about writing letters of intent, I’m all ears), I also have the numerous chapters of reading I’ll need to do for my classes, I need to study my foreign language (German) and see if I can’t test out of the class, AND I signed up for another class this week. –sigh- I must hate myself. Okay, it’s not that bad. The new class I’ve signed up for is Ceramics. Yes, it is a three hour studio course twice a week, but I think it will ultimately be relaxing since I’ve taking ceramics in high school and my undergrad. There’s something calming about throwing pottery on a wheel and seeing the clay take on the shape/form YOU want it to. The creation is my favorite part.

I’ve also been partnered with a new office mate who I LOVE AND ADORE!!! We had a couple of classes together last semester and got along great. Her name is Christina Mangiapani (yes, she is of Italian descent and I can’t help saying her last name with a crappy Italian accent each time) – not to be confused with my roommate, Christiana (kristy-ahna). Mangiapani’s starting volume is loud, and then it gets louder. She has the most boisterous and infectious laugh and putting her and I together is a recipe for a loud and rambunctious office. IT’S GREAT!

We have a great crew of incoming Teaching Assistants (some of which I know from previous classes we’ve taken together) and I have a feeling I’m going to be a lot more social in the next few months than I really should be. My ultimate and ambitious goal this semester is to have a rough draft of my thesis done by the end of Christmas Break. This means I’ll be researching, synthesizing, and writing 60+ pages/3 chapters of a book (which, trust me, I don’t see ever being published), but hey, it's a draft so it doesn't have to be perfect -- I just need to keep repeating that to myself.

Yep, with the good comes the bad…but what a wild ride it’ll be!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It doesn't get any sweeter than this

Guess what I saw at my local WinCo this week? Yep, the sweet, juicy, goodness that is a Hermiston, OR watermelon. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE watermelon, and especially the Hermistons? Sweet, sweet bliss. Can you guess what I ate, and ONLY ate, for dinner tonight?
Why I don't like other members of the "melon" family (canteloupe and honeydew melon) I don't know. But I love me some watermelon!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm Getting Too Old For This

I seriously feel like Chicken Little who goes around saying, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” But I’m more like Chicken Little version with her head chopped off because I’m saying, “The students are coming. The students are coming – in DROVES!”

It’s not like I’ve never lived in a college town. Hello! Lived in Walla Walla, WA which had three higher education facilities within 10 miles (Whitman College, Walla Walla Community College, and Walla Walla College); I’ve lived in Lewiston, ID which is home to Lewis-Clark State College; although I didn’t live in Rexburg, I attended Brigham Young University–Idaho (BYU–I) for three years; and now I reside in Moscow, ID. This little “hamlet” has a population of around 25,000, but explodes to 35,000+ when school starts in the fall…which would be in the next week. What’s really scary is that the real influx of students won't begin until this weekend.

This week is all about the athletes moving in and it’s “rush” week for the fraternities and sororities – both of which are difficult for me to understand. BYU–I didn’t have either one of these organizations. There were no school sports, but they had an extensive intramural program that included sports such as rugby, hocky, water polo, football, baseball, volleyball, track, etc. They kinda run the whole gamut of activities, both competitive and non-competitive. So during my undergrad it really didn’t matter if you were an “athlete” or anything. Who cares if you’re the team quarterback – odds are there are three others in the class with you. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the athletes at U of I. I’m not sure if it’s the athletes, other students, or what, but those that are on teams seem to be “above” the other students. Seriously? As a teacher I don’t care how many yards you rushed in the last game, your RBI average, or whether you set a PR or any kind of record in your last race. I just care about whether or not you did your homework – and did it well.

And the Greek system? I am REALLY too old for this. The kids are getting younger, the clothes smaller and the attitudes bigger. Again, the condescending attitude these 18 year old girls with their glittery eye shadow, short skirts, and stiletto heels project to everyone is quite laughable. Sometimes I secretly wish a particular one or two of the more uppity pledges were in my class so I could knock them down a peg or two.

Latent hostilities? It’s possible, but here’s a bit of a disclaimer. Although I may rant and rave against the few who taint the organizations I’ve spewed about above, some of my favorite students have been members of an athletic team as well as various frats and sororities. These organizations actually stay on top of their members so the grades don't slip and GPAs lower -- for the most part. So I think this grumpy mood is just more of a realization that summer is coming to an end and school is starting up again.

But with that realization is the acknowledgement that I really feel like I’m getting too old for this. I’m tired. Tired of pulling all-nighters to meet a paper deadline (although this can also happen in the business world); tired of buying books and paying tuition; tired of attending classes with teenagers; tired of moving every couple of years and renting an apartment; and I think I’m just tired of the student lifestyle as a whole. I’m ready to re-enter the “adult” world.

Whew! Typing all of that made me tired as well. It’s 7PM. Doesn’t that mean it’s time for this old woman to go to bed?

For everything there is a time and a season…

Just a random conglomeration of thoughts.

Tonight I was talking with Gabby, one of my roommates, and we were discussing particular foods and when we tend to eat them. I came up with the following list:

  • Beef Jerky – or really jerky of any type (chicken, bison, elk, deer, etc.) – is difficult for me to eat unless I am floating down a river in either a kayak or raft getting ready to run some rapids or camp on a beach for the night. Even looking at a bag in the store automatically sends me back to the summer on a river.
  • Raisinettes: This is a strictly movie-going food. I’ve never been one for eating a huge tub of popcorn or raiding the concession stand, but the moment I step into a theatre I have a craving for chocolate covered raisins.
  • Spam and/or Cup-o-Noodle Soup: This is a strictly hiking/camping food. Obviously the soup because it is so light that it doesn’t weigh down a pack when spending nights on the trail. And the Spam, well, when you’re hungry, you’re hungry and it’s like anchovies…does either thing really ever go bad?
  • 5-Layer Chocolate Cake: This one is more of an inside joke than anything, but I can remember one Thanksgiving on the coast, with a couple of my siblings, where we had chocolate cake and corn dogs for Thanksgiving dinner. Blech! I still have problems eating chocolate cake! Thanks for ruining that for me you guys! ;-)
  • Coffee cake: (what’s with me and cake?) This is a traditional Christmas Morning treat in our family. Oh the uproar the one morning when our Mom DIDN’T make the coffee cake! Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.
  • Black Olives: This is a traditional Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter side dish. My experience has been that olives are best eaten after they have been impaled on each of your ten fingers and removed with your mouth. Yep, I only seem to eat them off my fingers on these holidays. I embrace my childlike side. Don’t judge.
Well, that’s all I can think of now, what about you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What desirest thou?

I’ve been asking myself that lately. This question seems to be popping up a lot while I’ve been reading the scriptures, and I find it a compelling question: What do I desire or want? Are they righteous or selfish desires?

I also wonder, why is this question being posed and not “what do you need?” Needs are completely removed from desires. I need to eat, sleep, breathe, etc., but what I want could be as varied as a new car, ice cream cone, sunny day, etc.

God knows both what we want and need, but do we know? How well do we know ourselves? I’ll be the first to admit that there are truths about myself that I close the door on or don’t acknowledge. What are they? Sorry, we don’t know each other that well. :-) But I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who does this. What I truly, deeply, and sincerely want are those things I find myself thinking about in moments of quiet and peace. They are desires that surface again and again as if to remind me that they’re still within me and still unmet, but I continue to shove their heads back underwater until they stop struggling and retreat until the next time I find a quiet within the storm of life.

Why do I do this? Why do I acquiesce my own wants and desires? I’m sure there are any number of reasons, but I think two reasons are:

  1. I am inherently a people-pleaser. I try to make other laugh; I do things to make others happy, even if it’s an inconvenience for me; I rarely say no if asked to do something (but I’m getting better at it!); If you’re someone I love, I put YOUR needs before mine. Is this a bad thing? No, but I also need to learn to be more selfish and selective when spreading my energies around. If I give everything to everyone, what is left for me?
  2. For the past few years I’ve been all about the work, and little about the joy. I'm constantly on the go: I do school work, I always have at least one job, if I have a “down” day I still keep busy doing stuff. I’ve mentioned this in an earlier posting, but I don’t relax very well. The closest I come to relaxing is reading a book – no, I can’t lay out by a pool, because within 5 minutes I’m bored. I don’t know, maybe I have this whole “relaxing” thing wrong. I don’t have to be idle to relax, I just have to find those things that soothe my soul and calm me down – that’s essentially the definition of relaxing, right? So maybe I’m better at it than I think I am … I just do it in different ways.
So, back to the topic of this posting, I need to think more about what my wants and desires are because, I believe, God will give us what we need, but he’s also willing to give us what we want…we just need to recognize what it is and ask Him for it. But I also have to remember the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for – you may get it!”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Timeless battle over what's important

Isaiah 53: 2-9 (King James Version)

2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

This passage has always been one of my favorite in the scriptures. To me, it vividly brings home what has been done and borne for me, personally. Regardless of whether or not I was the only inhabitant of this planet or the world’s population numbers in the trillions, the actions and sacrifice of the savior would be the same. He still would have voluntarily laid down his life for me, without a whimper, question, or second thought. That depth and breadth of love is one that I often forget about in my daily life.

As I was reading this passage I had to stop and ask myself: Am I trying to be LIKE him, or BETTER than him – in the eyes of the world? The description above states that his beauty was such that he wasn’t desired and that he was despised and rejected of men. Although he gave his very life for us, WE hid our faces from him. So I ask again: Whose opinion do we find ourselves trying to gain – the worlds or our Saviors?
What’s the point in trying to intellectually understand everything (something I find myself doing too often -- probably because I've spent years and thousands of dollars on my education) if something as basic as a gift of love and life is unabashedly discounted and rejected? What’s it matter if I know how many angels fit on the head of a pin or where Noah’s Ark landed? Those are piddley, in the grand scheme of things, and don’t really matter. Sometimes leading with my mind leads me to overlook the simplest things – and gifts. I’ve found that I often make things more complicated than need be.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I’m Wary of “Helpful” Computers

Maybe I’ve watched “I Robot,” “War Games,” or the “Terminator” films too often (although I really liked the recent “Terminator Salvation” – just sayin’), but I find myself skeptical when my computer gives me suggestions. For instance, when I log into Amazon.com it lets me know what OTHER books I may enjoy reading based on my prior purchases. Um, okay. But what about the fact that many of the books I purchase from Amazon are textbooks. I don’t know of a lot of other people who go out of their way to read MORE textbooks than a class requires. Call me crazy. And if the insinuation of Amazon’s opinion when I log in isn’t enough of a hassle, now they’re emailing me?!? Seriously…stop stalking me.

Pandora radio does the same thing – making suggestions based on the music I listen to. I don’t know, but maybe because it’s based on the “Music Genome Project,” and sounds science-y, that I’m more likely to listen to the counsel it gives me. Besides, I’ve found a lot of new music and artists I like that I ordinarily wouldn’t have become aware of without Pandora’s helpful nudges into listening beyond my comfort zone.

So you may be thinking to yourself that I’ve argued both sides of the “do I/don’t I” like helpful computers argument, but I have one last example.

I’m the kind of girl who has – let me stop and think – okay, five email addresses. I know, a lot, but they’re each for different things. I have an active email from my undergraduate college, one email that I’ve had since…well, it seems like forever, two from my current graduate college (one is my faculty email and the other is my student email), and then one that is my more adult email. The email that I’ve had forever has become my default junk email. It’s the one that, if I sign up for, purchase, or need something, that I give out. Needless to say, I get my Costco.com updates, Redbox receipts, AAA newsletters, and yes, my Amazon.com notices of purchases/shipping in my inbox, but a lot of stuff goes to my junk folder. This is the folder that honestly baffles me.

My junk mailbox is a contradiction in subject lines. Here are a few that are in my junk box now:

  • Self-test your blood glucose with a {free} meter from Liberty‏ (Um, I don’t have diabetes)
  • Need a job? (No thank you, I have two – student and teacher)
  • Invisible hearing aid with no daily hassle (Yeah. I don’t have a problem with my hearing, but apparently THIS SITE does)
  • LED TVs, Golf Clubs and Furniture at Direct Pricing (college student = poor)
  • Amazon.com recommends "iSpy: Surveillance and Power in the Interactive Era (Cultureamerica)" and more‏ (Yep, a suggestion from some text books I bought earlier this week)
  • Get a T-Mobile Phone Now and Save the Activation Fee (Thank you, but I still have a year left on my current cell plan, and I’m happy with the provider)
  • 2010: Financial Aid opportunities for qualifying students to go back to school (HELLO…I’m already IN school)
  • Patty, Take the first step to becoming a Police Officer! (Ha, ha, ha. This one made me laugh out loud…um, just because I’ve worked in a police department, doesn’t mean I WANT to be an officer.)
  • We’ve got you covered. (Sender: Roof Replacement – but I’m a RENTER, why would I want to buy a new roof?)
  • LASIK Special Starting at $299|Safe, Easy, Affordable (Seriously? This is the third “suggestion” regarding my health – I’m fine people! 20/20 vision, hearing is great, and once again…I’m not diabetic)
  • Come take a look at Fifty Plus photos (Um, I’m only 33 years old, 50+ year olds are a little above my dating threshold)
Perhaps you’d like to poke me and remind me that this is spam mail…and I know that, but SOME computer program thinks I’d be interested in the rubbish that is clogging up my junk folder.

So the ruling? I think I’m just naturally skeptical when an inanimate object thinks it knows me better than I know myself – except for music!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We don't always get what we wish for...

So I thought today was going to be a good day, but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.
  1. Woke up early and submitted final grades for the online class I teach – Yeah! All done.
  2. Got my hair cut and normal hair color back. Yep, it’s got the blonde streaks again. It looks like it used to when I would spend a week or an afternoon on the river rafting, camping, and getting scorched in the sun. Ah, those were the days: no electronic devices, no mirrors, sleeping under the stars, and building memories with friends. (We’ll just ignore the occasional rattle snake, raft tipping and losing the gear on it, river blowing out upstream – so that the river turned into our own chocolate-looking river, someone going into a kayak fully clothed and coming out with limited clothing and an attempt at personal decency, and the fly-fishing experience when the fly caught…um, someone’s shorts and not a fish.) Yep, good memories.
  3. Popped down to Lewiston to see some friends at the police department (Cindy, where are you!!!).
  4. Challenged my roommate to a game of H-O-R-S-E and got beat. Yes, I tried the whole “best two out of three” ploy and she beat me twice. What happened to the b-ball skills I had from the teams I played on. C’mon. I still have the trophies to prove I didn’t completely suck at basketball. Well, I am getting older, and my roommate is younger than me. Yeah – I’ll blame it on age…but I’ve already called a rematch for tomorrow.
Almost a perfect day – blast basketball!


Monday, August 9, 2010

My Definition Is...

What defines me?

Growing up in a large family I was the child who was always smiling. During my teenage years I was one of the “Cady Girls” (pronounced Kay-Dee), and it even got to the point that some people just called me and my sisters Cady-Cady…so they wouldn’t have to try to remember each of our first names. But during that time I was also defined by my skills on the volleyball court and my great group of friends – friends that my older and younger sisters (and their friends) wanted to hang out with.

As I graduated and moved away from home my definition altered and I was the girl who worked for the police department, but also the girl who was a social butterfly and seemed to have something going on every night/weekend with friends from church. Years later I chucked all of that and became a college student once again whose focus became reading, writing, and design (thankfully minimal ‘rithmetic). Finishing my undergrad I became the graduate student and teacher to college freshmen…but a student nonetheless.

Now? I’m still a student, but I question whether or not THAT is what defines me – or rather, is that what I WANT to define me? Yes, there is nothing wrong with improving the mind and increasing your knowledge, but how have I seemed to let that pursuit seemingly become my defining characteristic? What happened to the girl who was the friend that was always up for a good time? Since when did I let a piece of paper (a college degree) define me?

What SHOULD define us? Is it material things or our relationships? Accomplishments? Failures? Intentions? What? Is there a right or wrong answer?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Living Life in the Good ‘ol Days

I’m sure you haven’t done this, but during stressful moments in my life, or when things just don’t seem to be going my way, I often long for the “good ‘ol days.” You know those days: when times were easier, life was more fun, everything was going your way, you had more money, freedom, time, etc. Ah…the good ‘ol days. But I have to ask the question, what makes those days any better than the days we’re living in right now?

Sure, maybe my life’s more hectic and I no longer have the disposable income I did before leaving the workforce and enrolling in school again, but are the days past REALLY so much better? Why do we spend time longing for the past when we’re living in the present – or rather we should be living in the present.

I’m pretty sure that 5, 10, 20, 50 (if I’m so blessed) years from now as I sit in my rocking chair or ride my Rascal Scooter around, I’ll look back at today and consider it the good ‘ol days. I mean, think about it. Today I’m healthy, in the prime of life, having experiences I could only dream about 5 or 10 years ago, and I’m realizing those dreams NOW. Sure, my today can suck hardcore, but I know it’ll get better, because life, and the good ‘ol days, have taught me that.

So as I continue to work toward my goals of graduation, satisfaction, completion, and any other "tion” word, I’m going to concentrate harder at living in the present instead of the past. Today is a future “good ‘ol day” and I need to treat it as such. Because, ultimately, I can’t change the past, but my present dictates my future – for better or worse – and I’d kinda like to have a future I can look forward to…Rascal Scooter and all.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing…

You’ve heard your parents say it. Shakespeare asked about it in As You Like It -- “Can one desire too much of a good thing?". - (Act IV, Scene I). Songs have been written about it by Alan Jackson and Bon Jovi to name a couple. And still the question is asked: Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? My answer: Yes, it is.
This week (my first week no longer working 40 hour weeks at LPD) feels like a week of Saturdays. You know how those days are – you sleep in, you run errands or watch t.v., do yard work, basically do what you want. So what’s wrong with that? Let me answer by using a Graphic Design saying: “Same, same, same is boring, boring, boring.” That’s right, I’m bored because I’ve been doing the same types of things all week.

I’m sure you’re all sobbing inside because of my boredom with doing whatever I want (insert sarcasm here). Okay, actually you’re probably giving me the mental middle finger or telling me to stop complaining, but that’s one thing I’ve realized about myself. I need goals. I need to be challenged and pushed. I don’t do “relaxing” very well. I’m not the type of person who can laze in a pool or do nothing – I have to be doing SOMETHING. I’ll admit that doing nothing is nice for a little while, but that usually only lasts a few hours.

I’m sorry to say that I can’t wait for school to start again so I’ll be challenged by what I’m reading, writing, my teachers, fellow grad students, and yes…even the student’s I’m teaching. I like the variety and the knowledge that I’m improving myself and learning something. Stagnant stinks and progress is desired.

Now, if I can only remember to recite this little pep talk to myself when life gets hard and isn’t going the way I want it to. Repeat after me: “Same, same, same is boring, boring, boring.”

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Do I really "like" Facebook?

So I’ve been thinking about this thing I “Liked” on Facebook recently. It said:

Don't worry about the people in your past; There's a reason they didn't make it to your future.

I’m sure that’s true, to a certain extent, but what about those from your past who re-enter your present and are part of your future? At what point was I supposed to stop worrying about them? And, if they’re in my present now, am I supposed to make up for lost time and double my worry quotient for them in the present and past? I can see how I need to stop fretting over how I acted toward my third grade teacher or a boy I beat up in elementary school (yes, I was a bit of a tomboy-ish bully – especially if you picked on one of my siblings), but what about this thing called karma?

So Friday was my last day working for the Lewiston Police Department. For those of you who didn’t know, I was asked to come back and work for two months while the Administrative Secretary, Lori, took some time off for family reasons. It coincided nicely with my summer break from class so I decided to move back from my temporary abode in Idaho Falls to Moscow and make the five day-a-week commute to Lewiston. I wasn’t at all worried about being able to do the job because, well, I had held this exact same job for about five years before going back to school and I was the person who had trained Lori on how to do the job. Luckily, since it’s a government entity, not too much had changed. However, after a month Lori decided to come back early and I was shuffled off to a different part of the department to do odd jobs and projects for people for the remaining month. And that’s what I did: organized and scanned old files, updated training books, created flyers, gathered statistics, etc. Yep, exciting stuff.

Alright, so maybe it wasn’t the most exciting job, but a HUGE plus about the job was that it enabled me to see and meet some awesome people – again. I will be the first to admit that I am a slacker and didn’t try that hard to maintain contact with many of my co-workers from the past. Facebook is great in that you’re able to reconnect with people, but one “con” of it is that it allows you to maintain your distance if you want. It’s like when someone asks you if you're still friends with someone or keep in contact with them and you reply: "Sure, we’re friends on Facebook! What? Oh, you mean when did we talk last or have a meaningful conversation that wasn’t filled with one-line status changes and me clicking on the “Like” button? Umm…look over there! Is that Bigfoot?!"

Okay, Patty. Get to the point. What does this all mean? Well, I think it means that change is good. My summer plans did not go according to my plans, I came back to my old “stomping grounds,” and got to work with some people who were, and still are, great influences on me. So the saying I liked on Facebook (Don't worry about the people in your past; There's a reason they didn't make it to your future) doesn’t really hold true for me in this situation. I had stopped worrying about my former co-workers and moved on, but lucky for me they became an integral part of my present and future.

I know that many people come in and out of our lives for different reasons and needs we have, sometimes without our knowing it at the time. I can’t count the number of times it has seemed someone was a part of my life for a particular time and reason and then moved on their merry way.

I guess the most important thing I realized about all of this, and about other people from my past, is that yes, there are those in my past that I can’t go back to and rectify mistakes, hurts, or slights I have done to them in the bodily sense, but what I did, how I felt, and what I learned from them and the experiences (the soul and spirit) I can hold and take with me to my future. No one we ever come in contact with or associate with ever really leaves us. A part of them will be carried with me forever, if nothing else than so they can be a reminder for me about those things I did right, as well as wrong. It’s the remembering of the seeming intangible emotions and sentiments that are actually the most potent and lasting.

Okay, I just re-read this and I know what I was trying to say, but did any of what I just said make any sense to you?