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*