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!