Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Holidays?

As I avoid grading by writing this post, I'd have to answer the question above by saying "Yes," but with qualifications.

You know it's been a tough holiday season when spending the night in the hospital feels like the "norm."

No, I haven't hurt myself or anything, but we discovered right before Thanksgiving that my mom has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. It's spread to her liver and lymph nodes. It's terminal, so nothing can be done but make her as comfortable as we can and spend as much time as possible with her.

While a lot of tears have been shed (and will continue to), I keep on having a saying, supposedly attributed to Dr. Seuss, run through my head: "Don't be sad that it's over. Smile because it happened." I'm trying to keep that spirit in mind.

The likelihood of me not being sad when my mom dies, or goes through this physical struggle, is zero. I mean, she's my mom, off course I'll be sad. But at the same time, I smile because I was (and still am) lucky to have her for my mom. I am blessed to have a constant cheerleader in my corner, a wonderful example of patience and perseverance (she and my dad raised ten kids, have been married over 50 years, and they have a combined 30+ grand and great-grandchildren), and someone who's quiet composure masks a woman who can let loose verbal zingers that take you aback and can make you laugh at the same time. And to think most of us kids blame , ahem, attribute our sense of humor to our dad. Mom's got a doozy of one too!

So, as I'm in the midst of the holiday season, feeling sorry for myself and the unexpected trips to the hospital ER because we find out another quirk to my mom's prognosis (hello blood clots!), I am trying to focus on family, because that is the opportunity this diagnosis has provided my family. The chance to say what we want and feel both to our mom and each other; to reconnect; and to bond over how wonderful our mom, and our dad, really are.

This isn't the ideal scenario, but I'm smiling because wonderful things are coming out of this horrible situation and because of the wonderful woman my mom is.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Arthritis, Trains, and Bad Weather...all in one!

Rheumatoid. That was the word on my mind when I woke up this morning. I was going to post a picture, but I really didn't see anything that anyone would find visually appealing. With a word like "rheumatoid" I wonder what I was dreaming about. I sure hope Adam isn't letting himself go.

I know it's the month of Thanksgiving and the holiday season is upon us, so I should be swept up in the holiday cheer with everyone else, but right now I'm just tired. While I am emotionally and intellectually tired, right now I'm mostly physically tired. Unfortunately, I don't see a light at the end of the tunnel that is any closer than two and a half weeks out. That's how much time I have left in my first semester being a "real" college instructor.

Oooooohhh! That sounded kinda cool and impressive -- and it is (I mean, sometimes I wondered if I'd make it through my Masters program). Honestly I do love my job and most  all of my students. Admittedly I've struggled liking some of them, but I'm happy to say I know all of their names, "problem" students have endeared themselves to me, and I'm excited to see what next semester's rascally bunch is going to throw my way.

Lately I've felt on edge, turbulent, and as though I've been spinning my wheels but not getting any traction. My mind has often thought of this picture, if you look closely you can see the man in the doorway. My sister has this on her wall and she has included the saying: Sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms his child.

While I've always been a fan of turbulent weather -- particular on a beach or coastline somewhere -- I'm not sure if I'm as appreciative of it in my mind and life.

Right now I am hoping for a break in the storm, but I understand that it's going to rage for awhile longer. I just hope I can appreciate the lulls in the coming weeks and months and can find a port to drop anchor.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reasons Why I Like Teaching

Yes, I will be the first to admit that teaching is a stressful, sometimes thankless, and draining job. Seriously, I come home thinking that there's no way I can "perform" any longer. I don't know of a lot of actors/actresses who perform four hours straight 2+ times a week. Some days I think I should be on Broadway! I embrace my English nerd-dom, but even I am not genuinely interested, excited, and pumped up about English that much and for such an extended period. Yep, I act a lot.

But enough about that, this post is supposed to be about why I like teaching, in spite of everything else:
  1. I love to see a student get interested in something they thought was pointless and boring.
  2. Immediate validation. Instantly I can tell if what I am doing is connecting with my students or not.
  3. I can wear jeans if I want. Simple pleasures people.
  4. I get to "hang out" and joke around with my students.
  5. I learn something new. Every. Day. Maybe it's a small piece of knowledge, but I love to learn, and I appreciate the variety of backgrounds and perspectives my students bring to discussions and their papers.
  6. Validation...again. I love hearing from a student that "English is my favorite class. There's no way I'm going to miss it." Awww...
  7. I love to see the light turn on in their heads as they finally "get" something they haven't really understood since high school, or earlier (i.e. organization, thesis statements, rhetoric, etc.).
  8. I get "holidays" off. Now, this doesn't mean I don't work (and heaven knows I'm going to be working my tail off during Thanksgiving Break grading papers), but I genuinely get to appreciate the Christmas holiday -- and other days when school is closed.
  9. If I don't want to go to class, I don't have to...but I do anyway. I guess it's just the "freedom" of knowing that I can cancel class if I need to. "Need" being the operative word. 
  10. I can have meaningful, thoughtful, insightful, and challenging conversations every day with my colleagues. Ah...adult conversation!
Those are only ten of a number of reasons why I like to teach. They aren't, by any means, the only reasons, but they're the one's that have been swirling around in my head.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What's the deal?

Have you ever woken up from a dream just mad? I've woken up crying before. I've woken up smiling. I've even woken myself up laughing, but I don't remember waking up mad...at least while remembering my dream. This morning? Yep, I'm just mad.

I guess Adam Levine (the lead singer of Maroon 5) will do that to you.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't Adam's fault. Yes, we are on a first name basis now. But the dude came and took the draft of my almost finished master's thesis away because apparently my topic was too inflammatory.

A. Why was Adam Levine doing that...or even in my dream?
and 2. I've finished my thesis. Yep. Signed, sealed, sent to the printers and I have the diploma. So why was I dreaming about it?

Of course I was too stunned at what was going on to say anything when Adam took the thesis, and all of my notes, away. I'm not sure if it was the fact my thesis topic was too controversial, Adam Levine was in my dream, or that he taught at my university (Information Systems Technology -- don't ask because I don't know).

He did eventually give it back, but when he did I told him, "Thank you Adam, but I don't really like you right now. I know you are only the messenger, but I really don't like you right now." He looked sad, but I was still mad.

All in all it turned out well, and I had a kickin' soundtrack to go with this dream, but now I'm worried about Adam.

We didn't leave the dream world on the best of terms. Do you think he'll ever get over it?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Slack -Attack!

Alright, I will fully admit that I have been slacking in the "keep the blog updated...or at least post once a month" department. I could say I was busy, but that would be a lie. I could say I didn't have much to post about, but that's a poor excuse since I've written about such mundane things as letters sticking on my keyboard. Yep, no excuses.

Why haven't I written then? Laziness. Yep, I'm lazy. Or rather, when I get home I am lazy and don't want to do anything more than watch Hulu.com, let Pinterest suck hours of my life away, or sleep. Mostly the first two and occasionally the third.

The biggest news I have to share is that this past week was the first week of classes...and I'm NOT the student! Yay! Admittedly it's a huge adjustment for me because I seem to keep wondering when I should start reading my assignments and/or start working on a paper. How about half past NEVER! Or half past not right now?

So I am under a nine month contract at Washington State University (WSU) where, this semester, I teach three English 101 Introductory Writing courses and one English 402 Business and Technical Writing course. I have to say that the juxtaposition between my 402 juniors and seniors and 101 freshmen is hilarious to me. Seeing their attitudes, how they approach homework and assignments, and participate in class is really interesting. I already have my 402 class presenting on Monday and my 101 students don't have anything due until Thursday...and that's just a really rough draft!

Either way, I actually enjoy both classes and feel lucky that I have the two different ones to teach. It's nice to have a break and not teach the same thing four times in a row in the same day...three is my limit!

So as my semester continues I'm sure I'll have anecdotes to share with you, but here's my first one:

I went to the WSU campus the Sunday before classes began so I could see where my classrooms were and I was amazed by how many students were also doing the same thing. I felt like I was a prospective high school freshman again getting ready to try and traverse the huge high school campus...wondering if I was going to be late to classes and wondering how mean the teachers were going to be.

Now I'm the teacher....hehehe!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Yeah, I don't know what I'm going to say either, except I've noticed that I am having more difficulty striking the letter "A" when I type on my computer keyboard lately. Seriously? I just had to retype the word "lately" three times because each time I forgot to strike, or didn't hit hard enough, the letter "A". I think I need to work on strengthening my left pinky finger.

I could blme (yes, I'm just going to say screw it from now on if I type the "A" or not. It's gonna be hit and miss so I hope you can understand my mumbling...) the lack of "A"s on the fact that I am not a lefty, but that wouldn't be entirely true. I've just recently noticed this problem, so tht's not to blame. Perhaps it's lzyness? I did, after all just finish my mster's program, so it could be that. It's not really text-speak, so that's not to blme. But as I'm typing this posting I am noticing that there seems to be a bit of  lg (lag) when I think I strike the "A" key and when the cursor moves on my screen.

Yep, that sounds right. Let's blme it on the keyboard. I am, after all, perfect, so why wouldn't it be modern technology's fult.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Job Hunting=Looking for Bigfoot

Seriously? Since when did job hunting become similar to looking for Bigfoot?

A job hunter enters the forest of job advertisements/postings/etc. looking for areas of possible jobs (or Bigfoot sightings). You check out the job (what are the requirements, job description, etc.), circle it a few times so see if the job is a likely fit, and then blast it with a bevy of documents (resume/vita, letter of application, references, letters of recommendation, teaching philosophy, or whatever other document the list asks for)!

And then? Well, then the waiting game begins. Maybe YOUR barrage of qualifications scared the job from its hiding place and you get a face-to-face sighting/interview of the elusive job. But then again, maybe you were wrong and your attempt is met with silence.

If you are lucky to get an interview landing the exclusive/job isn't a sure thing. Maybe your camera's flash wasn't working or your batteries dies on your digital camera. Who knows? Any one of a number of things could go wrong and then you're back to the drawing board again.

I'm at that point right now, but I have a feeling that my job hunt may start looking like shooting a shotgun into a barrel of fish. Something's gotta make contact!  :)
Okay, so maybe my description isn't really that apt because I did get two job offers, but they weren't for jobs I can see making a career. I took a part-time summer position at the University of Idaho as an office worker in their Distance Learning program in hopes that when fall rolls around I'll have a teaching job lined up (we'll see). I was also offered a full time office position at WSU in the Athletic Department, which I think would have been wonderful because everyone I talked to was great, but ultimately wasn't where I wanted to end up (and the pay was crummy).

So I'm still searching for the elusive Bigfoot teaching job, but at least I have a part-time distraction for now.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm sorry. I said I was sorry! -sheesh-

My apologies for not posting sooner. I know, I know...

Heaven knows I have enough time. I graduated just a little over two weeks ago and I'm unemployed. Unemployed = a lot of free time = boredom and Patty going cRaZy!!! In case you didn't read the earlier post (think months ago) when I stated I don't do nothing very well--well, it's true and I've got proof!

I did yard work...YARD WORK...on purpose! I always dodge the outside stuff unless I have to (and by "have to" I mean my parents made me when I lived at home or my wimpy sister says she has "allergies" and can't mow her own lawn. Or pick up dog poop. Or...wait a minute...I think I got the shaft there. Since when does dog poop have allergens? *Okay Becca, you outsmarted me!*)

I went to Becca's house and helped her (in a tiny way) get her house ready to sell and then I rushed home for a job interview. "How's that going?" you ask...not too well. I've sent out dozens of resumes, only had three scheduled job interviews -- one of which rescheduled...and then rescheduled again indefinitely but stated they hoped I wasn't "snatched up" (their words) by the time they reschedule..again. Sometime. In the near future. Um, okay? And the other two interviews wound up offering the position to other people.

So me? Still sending out resumes, filling out applications, and my freak-out-o-meter is climbing. I just need to keep telling myself that it's only been two weeks and I definitely have someplace to live until July 31st (until my lease ends). After that? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

On the up side, I did get a response to an application I filled out yesterday and they should be calling me today to possibly set up an interview (I'll believe it when I hear it) today. I filled out the application almost a month ago, so that gives me hope that the other positions I've applied for may just be taking some time. I will admit I'm a bit impatient at times and I have to realize everyone else's timeline isn't the same as mine.

So guess what I'm learning this summer? Nope, not more rhetoric or literature, I'm learning patience...because apparently you can't have enough of that! So here's for learning patience...and having the patience to go through the mounds of papers I've accumulated in two years as I start packing up. Thank heavens for recycling!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Raccoon Eyes (in a not good way) and Limbo

Saturday I graduated. I grant you permission to now call me "Master Cady." I have my Master of Arts in English (with an emphasis on Rhetoric and Composition) from the University of Idaho. It's also looking like I may graduate with a 4.0. Whoduvthunk? Trust me, my GPA in my undergrad wasn't that great, but I'll take it!

So on Saturday it was abnormally hot (this year) during our outdoor commencement and I wound up looking like a raccoon. I was happy I had remembered to bring my sunglasses, but there's a price to pay for protecting your retinas. The raccoon burn (see exhibit to the left) is baffling since this morning, apparently, it snowed in Moscow. Hrmpf. Go figure.

It was wonderful seeing my parents, friends and past students graduate, and members of the amazing UI faculty that helped me get this blasted diploma. Now, if I can only find a job. Yep, I'm unemployed and (as of July) am homeless too. I've officially located limbo, but don't want to put it down as my permanent place of residence.

So what am I doing now? Well, other than applying any and everywhere, it looks like I'm headed south to Idaho Falls for awhile to help my sister prepare her house to move. Otherwise? I don't know. Will I come back to Moscow? I'd love to, but no one who is hiring has given me an offer I can't refuse (i.e. a job offer).

Right now, I'm paring down, packing up, and preparing for a move to...whoknowswhere.

Time will tell -- and I'll keep you in the loop!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I think my computer hates me...

I honestly don't know what happened to my last post. You know, the one with the cute photo of the drawing on the shoes? Yeah. No idea. It's been deleted from my blog and I can't find it.

I think my computer is finally turning on me...but on the bright side...I'm done with writing papers, so it's not that big a deal!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Now I can slow down and breathe...

I saw this pic and it made me smile. It's called "Romeo and Juliet." >cute<

But enough about them, let's talk about me!

Finally, after months of stress, late nights/early mornings, rewrites, revisions, re-dunculous amounts of reading, and general internal mayhem, I feel like I can stop and breathe.

As of yesterday, my thesis, and all the corresponding hoops  paperwork, were accepted by the College of Graduate Studies. That means I'm officially going to graduate this semester! Yay! I was worried I had defended too late, but I must've squeaked in.

Had drinks (me soda pop, everyone else beer) with a professor and some classmates last night and turned in my final assignment.
I only have one more class this afternoon (which I've done all the work for and presented...I'm just an extra body in the classroom now) and I'm done with my classes! Admittedly I still have to grade my student's final papers, but that's not a big deal. I have until Tuesday to grade them and submit their final grades.

Now? Well, now I'm at a crossroads. What do I do? Well, I'm hustling trying to find work...any work! I'm wondering if I should just spend another year in school and get my teaching certificate or move some place and get a job. Nothing seems to be panning out in the Moscow area, even though I love it  here! C'mon, there's a reason why I came back to this neck of the woods, but every place I've applied to I've either interviewed and gotten the cold shoulder or just hasn't responded in any way.

Maybe I'm just impatient (which is a definite possibility), but I'd like to know one way or the other. Even a polite "thanks, but no thanks" is fine with me. At least I would know where I stand. -sigh- There are a couple more jobs I'm going to apply to in the next week, and then after that, I'm willing to cut my losses and move.

Okay, this has been a bit of a "Debbie Downer" post, but I guess I'm  just frustrated. On an up note...


You're welcome.  :-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Avoidance at its Best!

There's nothing like updating a blog to avoid doing what you know you're supposed to be doing. Take me, for example. I have final papers for my class to grade, but have I started grading them? Um, no. I have one last assignment for two of my classes to complete, but have I finished them? Um, no.

So what do I spend my time doing, you might ask? Um...nothing. Rather, nothing of importance. I spend way too much time playing Sudoku online, reading books that are just mind candy and that I have read before (so they take even less thought), and...nothing. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm applying for jobs like crazy.

I heard back from one community college teaching job in Bellevue, WA that was a polite "thanks, but no thanks," but I haven't heard back from any others. With less than a week until I'm unemployed, I'm starting to freak out a bit. Honestly, I'm not normally a worrier, but upon graduation on Saturday, I'll pretty much have completed my five-year goal. Then what? Yeah. That's where it gets a little shaky.

Ideally, I'd just like to know either way for ANY of the jobs I've applied to. I'm normally an optimistic person, but this is pushing it to the limits. So help me, if I don't hear anything this coming weak I may have to do something drastic. Don't ask me what...just drastic.

Even if I get a teaching job for the fall, I still have to figure out what to do for the summer. I've applied at some jobs, had one interview, but nothing. I'm getting a bit sick of the "what are you going to do now" question because I don't know.

What I do know is that I have to trust something will happen. Preferably something good. I have to trust that I'll be able to pay my bills, feed my dog and myself, and afford to keep a roof over my head. Right now? Well, it's not looking too good. I've saved as much money as possible, but please remember I've been a college student for five years. There's not a lot of opportunity for depositing into the "rainy day" fund. But trust. Be still and trust...

...but if anyone has any great ideas...I'm all ears!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

I realized, today, that it is less than a month before I graduate. I. Graduate.

Um, my mind is pretty much spazzing out at that idea. I quit a job I loved to go back to school, finished my undergrad, went on to get my masters, and now my goal will be accomplished in less than a month.

Now what?

Alright. Maybe it's not right to start asking "now what" since there's still so much to cram into this final month (less than a month, actually) of school. I have one final assignment, two presentations, and project for one class; I'm writing a creative piece for another class (that ought to be interesting); I'm finalizing my thesis and defending it in 10 days; and I still have 4 more classes to teach. So trust me, there's still a lot to do.

However, I've basically had my life planned out for the last five years and now I feel like I'm in limbo because in less than a month I'll be goal-less. I plan on getting my PhD right now because, well, I need a break. But what to do?

I seriously considered applying for a job at the City of Lewiston Fire Department, as an Administrative Assistant (basically the same job I had five years ago, just in a different department), but ultimately decided not to. Why? Well, I LOVE the area I'm in (Moscow/Pullman, Lewiston/Clarkston), but what would have been the point of all of my education if I just slipped right into the same job I had before? Where would be my growth?

I've applied for three teaching jobs at community colleges and a couple of adjunct teaching positions at universities. Whether or not I get them is up in the air, but I need to trust that something will come along that will utilize my degree. I need to trust that I will be fine. I need to trust that falling back into old habits and relying on what is "comfortable" isn't always the best. I need to trust in myself, my abilities, and my tenacity to set a goal and achieve it -- this obstacle, or opportunity for change, is no different.

It's just scarier!

So rather than fret and worry about my "plan" after graduation, I need to buckle down and focus my gaze on what needs to be done in order to ensure I graduate. Now is not the time to mess it all up!

Friday, April 15, 2011

I'm Avoiding. I. Know.

Yes, I know I have a thesis to finish writing. I. Know.

However, I've noticed this Facebook ad on the side of my home page and I wonder if you notice anything odd about it?

Hmmm...does anyone else feel like this is poor advertising? I mean, the kid is freakin' me out! How, in the world, would this possibly entice me to become a social worker? Would I get to work with psycho and serial killer-esque possible kids? Oooooh! Count me in! Not.

Then again, if they want to make sure there isn't a glut in the social work field I think they successfully achieved their goal. You can cross me off the list!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Remember When...

Hey, remember when I had free time and blogged at least three times a week...sometimes twice a day?

I know, that was a long time ago. Sorry, it isn't going to start happening anytime soon.

Just thought I should tell you before you start getting your hopes up. Only six weeks left of the semester and I've got WAY too much to do in order to graduate.

Speak at you in about seven weeks -- 'cuz we all know I'll need AT LEAST a week to recover.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well, THAT was different!

I finally got back today from my travels to Boston (had to present a paper at a conference) and I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not a "big city" gal ... especially an east coast "big city" gal. Maybe it's because the east coast was settled first and there's not as much space over there than on the west coast. Okay, just stay with me for a second. Have you ever noticed that the state sizes on the eastern part of the U.S. are (generally speaking) A LOT smaller than the west coast? I mean, what's with Rhode Island!?!? It's like a pocket-sized state compared to those on the west coast! Okay, so maybe that is a bit size-ist of me, but I'm a westerner -- and proud of it. Of course, I'm also proud that I was born in Alaska, I come from a large family, and can burp on command. Yes, it's true, and no, I will not burp for you. *burp* Okay, I had to!!! My mom is sooo proud of me right now.

Anyway, for all my complaints about the size, I really did appreciate touring around the city. As I took my first taxi cab ride I couldn't help thinking about the bit Jerry Seinfeld does:
  • "To me the really funny thing about New York cabs is that you never get that much scared... when you're in the cab. I don't know why, something about being in Manhattan. No matter how dangerous it seems... it's all quite amusing in the back of that cab, isn't it ? He's flying around the road, he's... doing 90 up a one-way, and you're going... (amused) "I've never tried that in my car !". It's all a huge joke ! It's your life. And somehow it's all happening on TV there, it's all not quite real. The dumbest thing you can think in the back of a taxi cab is "well I'm sure the man knows what he's doing." Have you ever thought that ? "He is driving fast. And quite recklessly. On bald tires. But after all he's a professional. I guess he does this all the time. He's got a license, I can see it right there".
I will admit that I was a bit freaked out by the speed my cab driver was going, especially when I compared the speed limit signs to the speedometer, but then I totally went into the "I'd never try that in my car" mind set.

One of the most memorable things, other than the AMAZING museums, streets and streets of brownstones, and just the history that permeates the city, was a restaurant I went to called "Betty's Wok and Noodle." I was a bit apprehensive considering they're an "Asian-Latino" restaurant. Um, Asian AND Latino? This had all the makings for a catastrophe. So I walked into the retro-feeling establishment with songs from the Rat Pack playing (great, just one more indication of the schizophrenic identity of the restaurant) and wound up having one of the best meals of my trip. Who knew that mixing fajita seasoned meat and vegetables with rice noodles and peanut sauce would taste so good? YUM! I highly recommend the place if you're headed to Boston (it's located by Symphony Hall in the "arts" section of Boston).

All-in-all, I had a good time, but ultimately happy to be home and I already feel the tension and stress starting up again. Less than two months until I graduate and I just plopped down a chunk of change for my cap and gown. Now it's really getting official!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One down, one to go!

So yesterday was the culmination of months (and I do mean months) of hard work, stress, collaboration, and hoop-jumping-through-ness of a number of AMAZING people. The 2nd Annual University of Idaho Graduate Literature Conference is done. Yay! We had over 30 participants, from Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Arizona. Without all of them, the conference would not have been as awesome as it was.

Now, I'll admit, that usually conferences put me to sleep. I get bored and I struggle more to stay awake than to pay attention, but such was not the case yesterday. So, maybe I'm partial because I know how much was put into this conference, but I honestly don't think so. Every panel that I went to was really interesting and the presenters (for the most part) did great jobs. I didn't detect any nervousness and some great questions were asked by audience members. There was more than enough food (if the leftovers crammed in my fridge are any indication) and I think everyone had a good time.

That being said, I didn't really how stressed I was over the whole thing until this morning. I slept in until 7:30 (yes, that is sleeping in for me, so don't judge) and woke refreshed and without a care in the world. I no longer had continuous thoughts of whether or not there'd be enough people in the audience, imagining minor and major crisis scenarios that may occur and how to deal with them, if there would be enough food, if the presenters and moderators would all show up, etc. Can you tell I've been stressed? I woke up this morning and read a short story FOR FUN! Did some work on my thesis, took my dog to the park as an apology for me abandoning her this week, and am now just surfing the web without a rudder...and loving it!

The week will begin again tomorrow, but that's a new day. Right now I'm enjoying my "day of rest" and focusing my attention on my thesis, classes, teaching, finding a job after graduation, etc. You know...same ol', same ol'.

That's not to say my conference attending days are over. I still have one more to present at in Boston two weeks from today. Luckily I don't have any responsibility in its success beyond my own presentation. Phew! By then my thesis rough draft will be done, the revision process will begin, and the countdown will really start in earnest to graduation day, Saturday, May 14th, 2011.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where have all the words gone?

"I've lost my words!" Honestly, how does that happen? I'm finishing up my M.A. in English and I can't find words to express myself? You may think I'm being facetious (I know, big word, but right now, not the word I was looking for), but it's the truth.

I've found that lately I'll be teaching a class and trying to explain something and when I'm done I stop. Think for a second, and then ask my class if what I said just made any sense. It never sounds quite "right" in my head as I'm listening, so I wonder sometimes if I'm finding and using the right words. Admittedly, my students say it does make sense, but I wonder if they're just smiling an nodding, hoping I'll finish talking soon so the can leave class early. Sometimes it's a toss-up and I have to force myself to keep class going.Yep, sometimes teachers don't want to be in class either.

I found this amnesia of words very alarming when, yesterday, I was in the midst of writing a short paper (only about 8-10 pages), had been working on it all day and so many times I had to bother my office mate and use 60,000 words in an effort to find the one word I was looking for. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it felt like all I could do was talk around the word I was looking for. Usually I'm able to use thesaurus.com to plug in the word stuck in my mind and, in looking at synonyms, find the actual word I want. Yesterday, however, I was unsuccessful.

What word was I looking for? Transcendence. How did I describe it? "Christina, what's that word that you use when you're trying to describe how things aren't cognizant of borders or limits? It's not boundless or infinite. What's that word?" I then gave a bunch of other words that are like transcendent, but have negative connotations, and it took us a couple of minutes to find just ONE WORD.

Yep, I think the hamster in my head is dead...or just taking a really long nap. Between my thesis, teaching, writing papers, helping to organize a conference, worrying about presenting at said conference (and another one in Boston), grading papers, applying for jobs, etc. I think my wealth of words has been stolen from me and I'm left in poverty.

Poor me is right!  :) I think I just need a break. I hope I get one after May!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Something's Gotta Change

I can honestly say that I'm not really a goal-oriented person...or, better said, a planner. Ask nearly anyone and they'll say I tend to be a bit of a laid-back, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal. That's not to say I can't plan, because I can, I just usually don't like to. If it's something big, I'll dust off my "weekly planner" mentality and get to crackin' on getting stuff lined up.

While planning isn't my thing...or thang...I've found myself calendering a lot more. Mind you, I'm not walking around with a palm pilot planning out my every last second, but I actually got a calendar for my office. -gasp- I know. I. Know.

Needless to say, the rest of February and March are going to be hellish. Not hell, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but hellish. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to work hard on not unleashing the hounds on my students.

In the next two weeks the culmination of months of planning (see I told you I could when I have to) will be realized in a graduate literary conference at the University of Idaho (let me just reassure you that I didn't plan this on my own -- I was part of a capable committee) -- which I will be presenting at. The week after that three drafted chapters of my thesis are due (a lot of all-nighters are going to be pulled for THAT one!). Then comes the "bliss" of Spring Break where I have to travel to Boston for a long weekend of presenting a paper at a different conference.

Oh, did I mention the added stress of finding a job for the fall teaching somewhere? I have to worry about CV's, Letters of Recommendations, Letters of Introduction/Purpose/Qualifications, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

The only thing keeping me going is that I'm almost done with school. If I can just make it to May 14th (and if I successfully defend my thesis), than I'm in the clear. The rest of my life will take care of itself...or rather it will when I start planning better.

Calgon, take me away!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Urban Jungle. Asphalt Jungle. Survival of the Fittest.

Call it what you will, but the parking lot of a university is a dangerous place to be...whether you be hunter or hunted! You don't believe me? Listen to this:

When entering a parking lot that appears full, and you hope to find a spot in, you immediate slow down and your eyes start scanning. You aren't just scanning for open spots, but for oblivious pedestrians that may possibly be walking to their car, as well as keeping your eyes open for other predators who are doing the same thing as you...hunting for the elusive free parking spot.

Now, if there happens to be an open spot than you can slide right in and be on your way, but if not -- well, then it becomes a test of skills. You vs. everyone else.

If the parking spot hunter happens to spy a pedestrian in the parking lot they must appraise the situation:
  1. Which direction is the walker moving toward? If they're headed toward campus buildings, odds are they've parked a car and are headed to class. But just in case the walker thinks they're sneaky and are trying to fool a parking predator, the hunter still watches them, alert to any sudden movement that involves ducking into a car and vacating a stall. If the pedestrian is headed away from buildings than the predator needs to take special precautions.
  2. Is the backpack slowly sliding off a shoulder or are keys being handled and jangled in the hand? Now, a beginning hunter would think one of these attributes was enough, but a seasoned stalker knows better. Experience has taught them that sometimes the key fiddling occurs long before arriving at a car...usually parked on the street six blocks down, or the student is just "playing" with the hunter. The walker is probably acting nonchalant and attempting to make make the driver think they are getting near their car -- and the coveted parking spot -- but this is not the case. The pseudo-prey probably doesn't even own a car, but likes all the focused attention they are getting. This also shows the lack of intelligence by the pseudo-driver as they momentarily forget they are fragile humans and the hunter is in an armoured mode of travel that has thousands of horsepower under the hood. Therefore, the dual motions involving backpacks and keys must be witnessed.
  3. Is the driver's side door being opened? Again, caution must be used. Maintaining a discreet distance is necessary to keep from spooking the intended prey, but you must also indicate to other hunters that this is your victim and to keep their distance. Things like blocking entry into a parking aisle, turning on a turn signal pointed toward the side of the aisle where the victim is (hopefully) getting into their vehicle, etc. will aid in "marking" your territory. The important thing at this crucial junction is to NOT hover. If you opt to drive slowly, five feet behind the walking prey, in the hopes of getting their parking spot, this may backfire. They prey may appropriate actions similar to the psudo-driver in #1 and pretend like they don't own a car, only circling back to their parking spot after they have seen you leave the parking lot in frustration or successfully stalk another victim. To conserve your energy, let the prey get situated in their car and, if possible, don't let them see you until the car has started and you see the whites of the reverse lights. Any sight of you hovering is liable to make the prey play possum -- play dead/freeze and not move. (Again, a tactic employed to "mess" with hunter drivers and attempt to assert victim "power").
  4. Once the prey has been defeated and slinked away, do not dwaddle before inhabiting the now vacant parking stall because, if you are slow, another hunter may slide right in and pretend they didn't "see" you're careful tactics enacted to fruition. If this happens to you three options are available: 1) trumpet your disapproval by honking and gesticulating to them or confront them face to face, 2) drive off and start the entire process again, or 3) to "Towanda" on their car a'la the classic movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
Yep, just another day at the office!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!

I find it interesting how many people try to hide how old they are. A couple of people, while posting birthday messages on my Facebook page yesterday, gave me younger than I am ages. I'm proud to say that I'm now 34 years old and proud of it! Admittedly, part of that confidence is the fact that no one believes me when I tell them how old I am (they think I'm younger...or at least act like they think that to make me feel better about myself). My secret? Well, I have two: 1) Thank you mom for your amazing bone structure, and 2) I spend a lot of time with people who are younger than me, so I don't worry as much as others and tend to be more laid-back than others my age. Perspective is a huge thing.

Do I stress and worry? Um, do bears fart in the woods? (That's a yes, in case you don't know.) But I also know that there are few things that I can control. Some things just "aren't in my boat". I can control what I teach my students and how much work I do on my own studies, but I can't control how much time my students spend writing their papers or what grade I get on my own assignments. I can only do my best and leave it in the hands of others. If I fail a class, or my students, will the apocalypse occur? Of course not! Although, I would like to complete grad school with my 4.0 GPA intact. (I haven't done that well in my grades since elementary school!)

So, I received wonderful gifts, flowers, and birthday wishes that brightened my day. And from myself to myself? Well, I'm giving myself the gift of health. Let me explain this. I don't do New Years Resolutions. I don't believe in resolving to do something just because everyone else is doing it. I've never been a real follower -- one of the consequences of being raised by a father who wanted to make sure his daughters were independent and could take care of themselves (did I mention I rewired a chandelier last week? Um, yeah.). So instead of New Years Resolutions I make Birthday Resolutions. This is a gift that I give myself. It makes me really stop and consider what I want and also lets me gauge how I feel and what I think about myself. What are my weaknesses? Areas of improvement? etc?

Now, I'll be the first one to admit there are A LOT of things I could change about myself. However, this year I figure health is one that is important. My schooling is coming to a close and my life will be in flux, but what I can control, and should be mindful of, is my personal health. Eating better (less processed foods and more vegetables) and moving more (rollerblading, walking the dog, jogging, etc.) will both help me physically, but mentally as well. The better I feel the more productive and happier I will be.

You think I'm happy now? Just you wait!

Happy Birthday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Beginning to Feel Like Home

Wouldn't you know it. My last semester in the graduate program at the University of Idaho and it's just starting to feel like home. Well, that's not necessarily true. The program, in and of itself, has always been comfortable and seemed like a natural place for me to be. The English department is very similar to the department at BYU-I in that everyone is very helpful, knows the students (graduate and undergraduate alike), and no one is "uppity"...even though the department has some AMAZING authors! Just like the final couple of years of my undergraduate schooling, I seem to live in the English building. It helps that I have an office there, so oftentimes I go in early and stay late...all in the hopes of keeping up and getting ahead. Mostly it's the attempt at treading water that occurs.

Now that my living situation has improved six billion-fold, I really love to spend time at home. In fact, if I weren't so productive in my office (with a lot less distractions than home--believe it or not with people popping their heads in to say hi or grab a snack from the candy dish) I would stay at home in the coziness and calm of the house. But, in order to graduate this semester, I need to get on the ball and get going on my thesis!

Relatively speaking, I really think I lucked out on my classes this semester. No, none of them can be applied to my thesis (rats!), but the work load is doable and I only have classes on Tues, Wed, and Thurs. Yep, you heard right -- I have four day weekends...every week!

The combination of ease and naturalness both at school and at home reaffirms my belief that this is where I'm supposed to be right now and I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

-sigh- It's so nice when you feel that reassurance!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Start Your Engines!

I can't believe it. I honestly never thought I'd make it, but I have...and it's not over yet! I'm in my last semester of grad school and May is looming (so is my unwritten thesis, but you can't have everything).

School started this week and luckily I only have to be on campus Tues, Wed, and Thurs. Yep, I'm that lucky and, yep, I planned it that way. I just take/teach classes on Tues/Thurs and have office hours on Wednesday. That means I have automatic 4-day weekends and get to sleep in at least three days a week...because my first class doesn't start until 9:30 am.

My only problem? Well, I'm taking a class that I'm already regretting -- a class all about Toni Morrison and her writings. Honestly, it's not a genre I typically follow or types of books I purposefully seek out. I listened to "Paradise" on the drive home and was kinda "meh" about it. Needless to say, the moment I just THINK about doing the reading for the class I get tired and rack my brain for something, ANYthing else to do. Yeah, not the best indicator for the rest of the semester.

The thing about it is that I can't think of any other class that is offered that I'd like to take. There are no rhetoric classes (which is what my thesis is) being offered and everything else is kinda blah. The kicker is that I'll be writing two long papers, due at the end of the semester...about the same time I'm worrying about my thesis, defending, etc....and the two papers are throw-aways. I'll probably never look at them again.

-sigh- Unfortunately that's the adult world, where you don't get to do what you want, when you want, in the manner you want.

Wait... can someone remind me why I couldn't wait to grow up again.


Thought so.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Domesticated Me

For over a week I've been at my sister's house feeling like a lump on a log. Not that I've been that lazy, just outside of my normal surroundings and pretty much staying inside. One of the reasons is because it's so freaking cold in S.E. Idaho! Yes, I know I went to school here for three years...but I think a body purposefully forgets (or just wishfully hopes it never has to experience that environment again) until it's shocked into remembering. And no, I don't miss the feeling of frozen nose hairs the moment you step out-of-doors. 

Like I said, I haven't been lazy, this girl's been busy! Preparing lesson plans, assignment sheets, calendars, deadlines, etc. for the class I teach next semester; as well as writing abstracts and submitting papers to various conferences around the world -- yep, I said around the world! Unfortunately I didn't get into the one in Dublin, and I didn't really expect to, but a girl can dream! I also worked on getting research materials for my thesis from Amazon.com ($150 later and there's still a number of books I didn't purchase...but wanted to!) -- thank goodness for Inter-Library Loan.

All that mind sweat and I also cooked, did some light cleaning, and minor dog watching (watch her dogs sleep, eat, play, bark, follow me around like shadows, etc.), and I began to feel domesticated. Honestly, I loooooove to cook, but it's tough to do it for one person, so I enjoyed dusting off those muscles and trying to guess when she'd arrive so I could provide a hot meal for her upon her getting home after a long day (I failed more often than succeeded). I didn't clean too much, but fell back into the routine of cleaning the kitchen, since that was my unofficial "chore" when I lived with her.

All-in-all it's been a pretty relaxing and productive vacation, but I still feel like there's so much more I could have done to prepare for my last semester. Oh, well. What's done is done and now it's time for full speed ahead!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time to Saddle Up!

This past week I've spent holed up at my sister's house in S.E. Idaho and --- I'm loving' it! No one knows I'm here...unless I want them to, so I've had no claims on my time. I've been staying up late (somehow I'm more productive at night than in the mornings -- that'd better change come school time!), sleeping in, and just "playing house" = cooking, cleaning, and being a "kept woman" (in the loosest definition of the word).

Watching Sage mellow and playing with my sister's dogs, that she used to dominate, cracks me up! At the drop of a hat Sage will instigate play time and loves to wrestle on the floor. This amazes me because ever since I moved to Moscow Sage has NEVER played with another dog. Why, I don't know, but she seems to feel in her element with my sister's dogs.

Pretty much it has been a lazy, but productive, break. I've completed assignment sheets, the first three weeks of lesson plans, and am working on finalizing my calendar for the rest of the semester. Now, if I can only be as successful writing my thesis. Yikes!