Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Got the last of my important Christmas shopping done today. Now I just need to figure out the trinket-level gifts (bosses & secretaries).

Anyhow, stick a fork in me--I'm done. Today was very tiring, mostly because I spent it in the mall with only a checkbook to pay for stuff. Do you realize how few places actually take checks anymore? Living in a small town, it's easy to forget. Shopping in a big town is a sudden reminder. However, I did manage to buy a couple of calendars, a book, and lunch via check, and I did have enough cash for a cup of Peppermint Mocha.

More details later, I just realized I'm not done b/c I haven't gotten cash yet, and the last of mine went to that Peppermint Mocha.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pray for Me

I've got a week to figure out what I'm going to say, but I'm probably going to end up putting my foot in my mouth. Let me explain:

My cousin (19) precipitously moved out from home. He's been fighting against the rules for years and decided he's just had it. I got a report of the breaking point from his mom, and I think he overreacted, but I think my grandmother also overreacted. And I'm going to say something about it. If the subject comes up, I'll say it then, otherwise, I'm going to do it before we come home.

So, pray that I may have the strength to do so. Pray also that I can say it in a way that reflects the love I have for this family and the desire I have that we not tear ourselves apart.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Conspiracies Abound

No, I'm not talking about Valerie Plame.
And if you don't know who that is, go google it.

I'm talking about Christmas. I love Christmas, but I also enjoy the whole game of picking the right present and keeping it a secret until Christmas day. I won't say any more, for fear of giving it away, but I just got involved in helping someone I know keep a present a secret from (obviously) someone else I know. Look, I'm even keeping gender out of it. But this way, I get to talk about it without giving it away.

Friday, November 04, 2005

That's it!

Okay, I'm sorry I haven't posted for a while.

Anyhow, for those of you reading, I'm going to change the comments settings because of stupid spam. So, yes, you will have to go through the word verification thingie.

More news later.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Beltin' it Out

Saturday night, on our way home from the lake, Colin and I experienced a truly awesome set of songs on the radio. We're talking fun songs, singing at the tops of our lungs with absolutely no shame, no guilt, no self-consciousness. Here's what I remember of the set, although it may not be in the right order:

1. Sly and the Family Stone, "Everyday People"
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Travelin' Band"
3. The Beatles, "Yellow Submarine"
4. Marvin Gaye, "I Heard It through the Grapevine"
5. Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"

So, what songs let you let it all out?

Moving Right Along...

If you don't hear a plucky banjo along with that title, you need to see The Muppet Movie again.

So, anyway, yesterday was my last day at the Moberly version of our restaurants before I start full time in Centralia. Of course, I'll still be running to Moberly periodically to borrow stock and stuff, but I won't really "work" there any more. That reminds me--I gotta find out where I'm picking up my checks...

I'll miss the people, but not the store itself. It's 26 years old, and some of the design ideas are outmoded, and some are just plain bad ideas. Example: the walk-in freezer is in the basement. You lug 36 lb. boxes of fries up 14 steps (yes, I counted) and see if you think that's good feng shui. I didn't burn any bridges, but I was uncompromising, and I did tell one crew member EXACTLY what I thought. When I called him a whiny baby, he asked why I thought he gave a shit about the store/the job/etc. My response? We pay you to give a shit.

I'm not sure why people (not just the teenagers) think all jobs should be easy and high paying. And of course, their definition of easy is a whole lot different than mine.

For the record, my definition of easy work includes:
  • Not having to put up with disdain for my religious beliefs
  • Not working in a constantly refrigerated environment
  • Not being a telemarketer
  • Being able to leave work at work to a fair degree
  • Having time for my own projects outside of work, whether they be reading, studying, or working for charitable causes

Thumbs are Invisible

Yeah...that's right...invisible. I mean, really, how often do you THINK about your thumbs. You really don't know they're there, really don't notice them at all.

Until you hurt one.

I bent back my right thumbnail Thursday morning just enough to begin to separate it from the nailbed. Just enough to bleed.

And of course, I'm right-hand dominant.

Writing hurt. Typing wasn't too bad, but even putting pressure on the left side of the thumb was uncomfortable (the injury was more on the right side). Crocheting? Impossible.

I bumped EVERYTHING that day. I had trouble picking up individual sacks and lifting 4 oz. boxes of fries. I tried to dictate a stocklist rather than writing it down. And that doesn't even begin to describe the fun of navigating a belt, button, hook & eye, and zipper just to go pee. Luckily, I have a strong bladder.

Oh well. It's better now.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Serenity and Forgiveness

CC--a girl woman I used to work with when she was in high school--and I just reconnected a week or two ago. We traded blogs. I try to check back so I don't fall out of touch again. And tonight, I read a beautiful entry.

Whirlwinds and Hurricanes

Such a time. Again, I apologize for my slowness in updating. Since my last major post:
  • I've wiped my hard drive (on purpose)
  • I've had lunch with the lovely and wonderful Jen
  • I've become disgusted (yet again) with governmental nepotism
  • I've decided to get serious about professional grantwriting
  • I've scored beaucoup points with my boss, just for being me
  • I've contributed to three Katrina relief funds
  • I've looked into working on/in recovery as a food service manager (and decided not to finalize any decisions on the matter for at least a month)
  • I've entertained and declined a more profitable but probably less fulfilling job opportunity
  • I've reconnected with friends like CC
  • I've had some anonymous compliments on my job
  • I've had a good friend and colleague tell me that I look and seem happier, healthier and more at ease than I have in years

So yeah, I've been busy.


Friday, September 09, 2005


Jeez, has it been that long since I posted? My apologies, readers. Work has been busy, and the computer's been messed up. I wiped the whole hard drive and started over last week, and I'm just now getting back up to speed.

Unfortunately, I need to go deal with laundry. More later.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Okay, getting this out of my system, because I REALLY REALLY want to vent, but I also don't want to get Dooce'd. Luckily, most of my coworkers don't know the meaning of "blog," let alone actually read any.

Let's just say I suspect a couple of people of trying to sabotage me at work. They have personal interests in me not succeeding, because it might, potentially, affect them. (For Mom and Dad--I feel like I'm working with Cokie.) Before anyone asks: YES, I am writing all of this down, just not online. YES, I am making sure people are informed about this. NO, I'm not just jumping over these people's heads, but rather going to an equal of these people and "asking advice" with reasonable hope that the message will move up from there.

I'm also taking nice relaxing baths, nice relaxing naps....and my Prozac. No migraines yet, but I'm prepared for when they come (I don't think it's going to be "if").

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Forgotten Joys

I went to a training class for work today (day 1 of 3), and found something from my childhood. Of course, as with so many of these things, we wrote of big pages of flipcharts and all that fun stuff. But the cool thing was:


That's what we always called them when I was in grade school, anyway. They were color-coded, scented markers. Red (cherry) is still my favorite, and keep the black (licorice) away from me.

Just thought I'd share.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


I'm back from vacation now, in fact, I've been "back" for two days, but it's really only now sinking in how much I needed that break. We flew up to NY to visit Andy and Pamela and had a wonderful time (and much Ben & Jerry's ice cream). I believe the Cherry Garcia milkshake may be one of the greatest creations ever. I saw my first horse race (and second, and third). It was a good time, and I feel on a more even keel for having had the break.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tale of the Killer Jalapenos

Last night, my husband and I nearly killed ourselves (or so it felt).... with JALAPENOS.

Here's the deal--he had a carry-in dinner today at work to prepare for, and he wanted to make these amazing jalapeno things. They're stuffed with a seasoned cream cheese mixture, then wrapped with bacon and baked to a crisp, yummyness.

The only problem is that apparently we are at the PEAK of jalapeno season. The peppers are a beautiful, deep, glossy green. We knew these were going to be rather hot--Colin chopped one into some salsa the other day, and it was quite spicy.

We nearly died, just trying to cut them open, clean out the seeds, then stuff them with cream cheese. My eyes were burning to the point where tears ran down my face. We both fought bought after bought of coughing and sneezing. Colin (who did all the cutting) tells me that his fingers are still burned, even though there is no longer any oil on them to transfer. Essentially, he has minor chemical burns on his fingers. I did the stuffing and still got enough oil on my hands to transfer to my tongue when snacking later, even after several washes including baking soda. My sinuses ached.

I tried one when Colin brought the remains back home from work. I nearly choked, it burned so much. I could completely understand why no one ate more than one of these--I couldn't even finish ONE.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I did. Yesterday, on my break at work, I started Exile's Honor by Mercedes Lackey. I've been a fan of hers since I was about 14 and my mom discovered her books. They are fun. This one puts one of the minor characters from other books (Herald Weaponsmaster Alberich) in the lead, focusing on how he came to be the character we know from later books. If you've never read her books, try starting with either Oathbound and Oathbreakers (collected as Vows and Honor by the SFBC), or with Arrows of the Queen.

Anyhow, back to my experience with this book. Like I said, I started it on my break. I came home, watched Sunday's Meet the Press while eating dinner, then stretched out on the futon in the dining room and read from roughly 7 ish to nearly midnight with only a couple of brief breaks (one to go to the store for munchies, another to help my husband prep food for a carry-in). Then I got up this morning, checked email briefly, and finished the book by 1015. It has been a really long time since I let a book just take over and felt only the slightest bit of guilt about reading something so fluffy. BTW, I like fluffy, just not all the time. And the guilt was not because I should be reading something else, but rather because I should be doing something else. Luckily, those other chores can get done later today.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I Hate Insurance

Actually, I love having insurance--I just hate dealing with it. As I'm sure Don would agree, these companies can be major pains in the butt. If you've been keeping up with me, you know that I recently started a new job (or rather, took a more permanent role at an old job) and I now have health insurance. It was effective July 1. My husband has dropped me from his insurance plan (once the paper work goes through). Supposedly, my insurance company sent out my ID cards July 15. But there's an incredibly high chance these were sent to the office of my store's owner (which is 35+ miles from the actual store), and he doesn't know if he's received them, and definitely hasn't gotten them to me.

I've already canceled one appointment (twice) waiting for this card. I have another appointment tomorrow which I will not cancel.

As I found myself saying repeatedly today, I hate people--mostly stupid people, but that still leaves a lot. The administrators of my insurance are rapidly climbing the dumb list.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lazy Sunday Morning

Yes, I'm feeling lazy this morning. That's why we skipped church (although we do feel slightly guilty about it). But I've had a really good cup of coffee (even if it was hot enough to slightly curdle my milk), and there's a delicious sausage smell coming from the kitchen with a promise of accompanying pancakes. I have a generally sucky shift tonight (1-10 pm), but it's with cool people, so I can deal. We'll have fun.

Friday night was nifty... we took the kayak out to Thomas Hill Lake (which is attached to the local power plant) and boated over to a nice little beach where we built a fire and had steak-on-a-stick, pepperoni, cheese, and some pears as our supper, along with a beautiful bottle of wine. While the lake is a little muddy and close to bath-temperature, it was good to float in the water a little then get out to cool off. We wore Lily out, and she was slightly disturbed that Colin would swim out with her, "chasing" her in the water. Boating back to the ramp in the dark was...interesting, but Colin kept his night vision pretty much intact (where I was reading Foundation and Empire aloud by flashlight), so things were good.

Alright, it's sounding like breakfast brunch is ready. Enough random ramblings for one morning.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Life on the Fast Track

Everyone likes it when they're on the fast track, right? It's exhilirating, and you know you're on your way. Things are going well, and it's just wonderful.

The thing is--when you're on the fast track, things tend to whip by rather rapidly, and you spend a lot of time reacting (as opposed to planning or acting independently).

Work is just spinning along. I've got a 3 day class in August, almost certainly another in October, and a third possibly in December. I'm good at this job. Deep down I know it. I'm going to be able to go places, but I've got a ways to go first.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Daddy's Girl Strikes Again

I got a call from my dad last night. I had sent links to the Always Daddy's Girl post to him and my mom both. The phone call started with "It's not nice to make me cry at work." You have to understand, this is a compliment. It means I got it right. It was true (even when it was technically false--Dad doesn't know how to braid after all...but he did do pigtails). It's one of the nice things about writing--I can do things in writing that I'm afraid will sound silly if I say them out loud. I like to write, and the blog is giving me a chance and a reason to do it. Keeping those mental muscles active.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Always Daddy's Girl

I've always been close to my dad. Always. So, when this month's BfB asked us to write about parenting (or being parented), I immediately thought of Dad. I'm not a parent (unless you count my lovely dog, Lily), but I have wonderful parents and a continuing relationship that grows and changes with the years. Rather than focusing on a single incident, I want to take you through some of the moments that shaped what parenthood means to me.

1980: My dad comes home from Germany (where I was born) after finishing his active duty enlistment in the Air Force (moving now to the Reserves). I'm 3. I CLEARLY REMEMBER going to the airport, and seeing a guy who looked vaguely familiar. Then he hugged me, and though I don't remember what he said, I know he SOUNDED right, and moreover, he SMELLED right. (At the time my father smoked black cherry flavored pipe tobacco.) I remember sleeping in the car with my yellow blanket with the satin ribbon on the way home.

mid-80s: My mom often worked early morning shifts at the hospital, so Dad was responsible for getting me ready for preschool/school. He combed my hair every day (and that was a real chore then, given how thick and tangly it used to be). He would occasionally catch one of my ears in the comb. I was very tender-headed, and he was very kind. He could braid and make ponytails and pigtails, too.

1986: Dad's dad passes away. I remember an early morning phone call, and hearing my dad crying in their bedroom. I was very angry, and very worried, about what could possibly make my daddy cry.

circa 1989: I think I was about 12 the first time Dad and I had a really deep talk. We talked about God, about why he doesn't like churches, about his life growing up in Alabama in the 60s. We talked about my grandpa. I think it was this first conversation where he impressed on me the importance of reading the Bible. He was never pushy about it, but said that if I didn't know the basis, I couldn't argue when I thought people got it wrong.

Summer 1990: I was 13, and we were in Alabama for Dad's 20th class reunion. Uncle Richard took my sister and me roller skating, where I fell and broke my arm. Mom accompanied me through the x-rays, then was going to trade with Dad. Before he got to my room (I thought), they decided to give me the anaesthetic so they could set my arm. If you've never been through it (lucky you!), they put the shot right into the area of the break. I screamed "I want my daddy!" at the top of my lungs, only to discover that he ran the last few feet just as I had started screaming. He held my hand, letting me squeeze while they set the broken arm, then made me let go so he could sit down before he passed out from watching me in pain. Fifteen years later, I will remember this moment with new understanding when I nearly pass out at the sight of my great-aunt who is slowly dying from Alzheimer's.

Throughout the next five years, Dad is a constant source of encouragement to a teenage girl who badly, badly needed it.

Summer 1992 or '93: I have all four wisdom teeth taken out. The general anaesthetic makes me sick and miserable. I go to sleep with Mom watching over me. I wake up with Dad sitting in the exact same spot, not watching TV, not reading (this is truly remarkable for our house), but just watching over me. He is particularly comforting over the next two days while we discover that I'm allergic to the codeine in Tylenol 3. I was unable to keep water down, let alone anything nutritious. He holds my hair, wipes my face, and brings me any number of stomach-soothing liquids. He does not get upset when, once I switch to triple-doses of regular Tylenol and regain my appetite, I eat half the loaf of bread in an afternoon because toast tasted so good.

January 25, 1996 (the day before I turn 19): I call Dad at work--
"Hi Dad"
"Hey, kiddo, what's up?"
"Dad, are you sitting down?"
"Yes, why?"
"Colin asked me to marry him this morning."
"And I said yes."
"No, Dad! I'm not pregnant!" (muffled laughter from my college roommate, Nikki, who is barely awake across the room)
"Have you talked to your mom yet?"
"No, she wasn't home."
"Let me prepare her for this. Call the house around 7 tonight..."
Long story short--he helped me navigate and negotiate with my mother and grandmother to eventually get the wedding I wanted (rather than maybe the one they thought I wanted). Also, he helped keep Mom from completely freaking out. Within the past 6 months, Mom had turned 40, had her oldest (me) move away to college, and now I was announcing my engagement. Although things were rocky for a while, Dad helped us smooth it out and remember what was really important--that we all still love each other just as much.

August 17, 1996: My father gives me away at my wedding. We all cry at various points. I remember thinking how wonderful it is to have a father who is not afraid of tears, especially tears of joy. I find out later that he has also been part of the "conspiracy" to get both my maternal grandparents to attend and to agree to behave themselves for my sake.

March 1998: We are visiting my parents over Spring Break when we get a call from Colin's aunt that my father-in-law has committed suicide. While Mom goes to the package store for some Wild Turkey, I bully Dad into giving me one of his cigarettes. I say bully because he never wanted me to smoke, always discouraged it. Years later, he will congratulate me on managing to quit, even though he has not been able to (yet, Dad. yet.).

May 2001: I dedicate my master's thesis (on Stephen King) with these words: "To my father, who always told me that smart was beautiful, and to my husband, for making me believe it was true."

August 2001: I wake my parents in the middle of the night (even later for them than for me), with the news that my mother-in-law has committed suicide. The next day (a Sunday), Dad calls his boss and announces that he will be taking a few days off. The following day, he drives halfway across the country to be at my house and stays to support us through the memorial service before heading back to Georgia.

November 2004: I announce that I'm going to quit my PhD program (eventually quitting the academic world entirely). Dad's (and Mom's) only concern is that I be happy, and that I not totally give up on teaching, since it would have made his grandparents (both teachers) so proud. I find, in time, that there are other places to teach than just in a school. And I discover that one of my greatest teachers about life and living was right in my own home.

The most important lessons my father has taught me (in no particular order):
  • Be yourself. Anything else is not worth the ulcers.
  • Be kind.
  • Kids can tell who's on their side. (And yes, he was always in their camp.)
  • Jellybeans can make miracles.
  • Children should be allowed to get DIRTY.
  • God wants us to think.
  • READ--I can't even put into words how important this was in our house. Reading truly has shaped my life in ways I cannot measure.
  • Seek and find your own personal relationship with God and come to terms with Him.
  • There is no such thing as a fair fight. One person will always be better prepared or equipped. Know this and be prepared to act on it.
  • Don't miss a chance to tell people you love them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Knitting Progress

I guess this post will test just how easy it actually is to use the Blogger Images thingie.

I've been on a knitting kick lately. I just finished this baby afghan (for a friend, not me):

And then, there are my "hippie socks". These are
actually my second hippie pair--since I've found places in Columbia where I can buy "real, live" sock yarn (fingering weight, if you're curious). I thought these colors had a great "beachy" feel to them, and the yarn automatically makes the stripes, so I don't have to sit here and carefully switch yarn after yarn.... blecch! no fun! After these, I've already got a pattern picked out for another baby blanket...for yet another friend.

God's Politics

Everyone needs to read this book by Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine. If you are a Christian, it challenges you to reevaluate your political decisions in light of the prophetic calls of the Bible. If you are not a Christian, it will offer you some theological leverage to use with politicians who want to claim the faith without necessarily making the tough decisions it really calls us to make.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Speed Demon

Here I go again. Two nights ago, I finished the first book of my management training (and when I say book, picture a 4"-thick 3-ring binder. Generally, this section takes new managers 4-7 months to complete. I got the book May 18th and finished June 13th. Now granted, I still have to complete a couple of verifications and do the prework for class in August, but I'm essentially done. The owner of our store wants me to finish the whole series in the next 2 years. I'm thinking I might be able to do 18 months without much ado...

Crazy crazy. In other news, I have health insurance of my own now (or rather, I will have as of July 1). AND DENTAL! It's so wierd to have my own benefits, although I'll admit to taking advantage of my vision coverage with Colin's plan before I go off it. That frames allowance is nice. Anyhow, early morning coming up; more news as it occurs to me.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Making Plans

In the academic world, I got used to planning my life in 4/5 month chunks (Aug-Dec, Jan-May, May-Aug). Now I'm doing good if I plan more than a day or two ahead. At some level I like that. At other levels, I feel out of control--like my life is flipping past me and the days are whirring by faster than I can count. I mean--it's June already! My brother's birthday is 5 days away (as both parents reminded me on the phone tonight). Luckily, I've got tomorrow off work and had already planned to head to Columbia. Now I'm adding the used music/game/video store to my schedule.

But we are starting to make plans, and they're longer plans than I've ever made before (excepting the "plans" attached to various loans). We've got a real estate agent starting to look for land outside of town (with or without a house at this particular point). We're talking about our family--whether we want kids, and whether pregnancy or adoption would be best for us.

Ah well, my dog tells me I should get off the computer and go to bed. She knocked my arm off the keyboard and ran toward the bedroom door. She's got a point, and I've got a busy day tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

What a Week (or two or three...)

I know, it's been quite a while since my last post. What can I say? I've been very busy.

I am now, officially, out of the academic world. And you know what? I'm happy about it. I'm in a place now where I think I can do some real good, both in my business life and in my community. Technically, I still have one academic application pending, but since I haven't heard anything from them in a couple of weeks, even with trying to follow up, I don't think they were terribly serious about me anyway. Instead, I just solidified a deal with the Owner/Operator of the McDonalds that I work for. I'm being put on the fast track for management training, and I think I'm up to the challenge. So, that's one part of my busy-ness.

On top of that, I'm principally writing two grant proposals that could turn into several hundred thousand dollars' worth of homeless assistance programs in my county. I wouldn't have been able to see the process through if I had to start thinking about moving. I'm still new to the grant-writing process, but I've done a lot with technical writing, and I know how to be clear and concise. This is an area with a definitive need for services, but no one has yet had the oomph to spearhead the process. It requires someone who's detail oriented and deadline driven--that's me to a T. So that's part two.

And I'm still reading and writing and thinking about religion. I may have further Thinking Christian posts, but not right this second. I'm busy thanking God for the reminder that "not even Solomon in all his splendor" was clothed as richly as the lilies of the field.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Today, my church got away from the lectionary and did a themed service around the idea of encouragement. It got me thinking about how things are going in my life, and how blessed I am by the people around me. I am trying to give back, to show my appreciation for the love shown to me. I am faced with some big decisions right now about my career and the life ahead of me. The people around me are helping me by praying that God will guide me to where he wants me to work. Many of them have confessed some internal conflict on the matter, since they want us to stay but know that job success may very well lead me away. I appreciate their honesty in this. It is part of why I consider them friends.

I keep thinking of one of the scripture passages from today: Hebrews 12:1-2:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God."

I am running a race with forks in the path. I pray that I stay on course, because I fear I've drifted somewhat away from my purpose.

I've gotten a couple of new readers, and they, too, are encouraging to me. Two of my students who have heard me talk about exploring my thoughts in writing, often pointing to this blog as an example, wanted to read, and I gave them the address. Occasionally, I stumble onto something profound or deep, but a lot of this is just my process for doing a mental inventory--what was I thinking about today, sort of thing. So, for those of you still reading, thank you for the encouragement you give me.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

My life in Migraine World

So, I've spent the last few months trying to remember how I used to deal with migraines. Let me give you the background: WARNING--the following includes a discussion of medical and menstrual issues. Be forewarned! I take no responsibility if you find something gross.

I have an enormous family history of migraines. I was doomed from conception, I think. Both parents, both maternal aunts, one paternal uncle, 3 of 4 grandparents. My younger sister has them too. My brother's just now reaching puberty, so we'll see. Anyhow, at about 17 I started getting my debilitating headaches. I got what are commonly called cluster headaches, which tend to focus around one eye or the other with particularly sharp, stabbing pain. Strangely enough, although 90% of migraine sufferers are women, 95% of cluster sufferers are men. That makes me all kinds of a statistical anomaly. After a couple of tries, I ended up treating them with prescription strength Naproxen (Aleve came out OTC about a year or two later, if I remember right). I was taking 1100 mg per dose, and I might take up to 4 doses with a single headache. My headaches mostly coincided with particularly stressful periods in my life, so I wasn't doing anything preventative other than working on relaxation techniques and stress management. To give you an idea of how frequent they were, the care package from my grandmother when I went away to college included a box of Tylenol samples and a box of Advil samples (she worked at that time in a pain management clinic).

I got involved with my husband and started taking DepoProvera for birth control (it's the shot once every 3 months). I got my stress under better control, and I quit having headaches. In fact, the bottle of Naproxen my parents ordered shortly before my wedding (because they had better prescription coverage than my husband at that point) was still half full on our fifth anniversary when I threw it out. Every rare once in a while I'd get a bad headache, so I'd take a bunch of ibuprofen and go to sleep.

In December, I switched birth control to the NuvaRing. I wanted something more quickly reversible, because we might decide to have kids in the next couple of years. Depo can take up to two years to "wear off," especially if you've been on it as long as I have. So, I got my periods back (not a big plus, immediately), and I started having headaches again. They were migraines, although right now I couldn't tell you if they were clusters or not. I wasn't taking notes, just meds. December I was under a lot of stress, putting out job applications. January, I had just had a big fight with my husband. February, there wasn't anything particularly big going on, so I was able to finally rule out coincidence. Went to my doc, he gave me a prescription painkiller to start taking a few days before my period to head off the worst of the headaches.

March came, and I dealt with two little migraines (5s on the 1-10 pain scale). I was feeling a little worn out from everything going on, including scheduling some job interviews. Had a cold a bit, then I got the mother of all migraines. I threw up. (And I rarely even get nauseous with headaches.) When I closed my eyes, I could see stripes and flashes of white light. (I've never had auras or any of the other visual effects of migraines like tunnel vision or any of that.) This was a 9 on the scale, and only because I know breaking my arm hurt more. If it had been a sharp pain, this headache would have been a 10. I had a friend take me to the ER, because I didn't feel capable of driving and my husband was out of town on business. My head hurt so much that I didn't even notice that they tied the tourniquet too tight when prepping me for an IV. I didn't really care till I saw the bruise the next morning. They gave me drugs for the pain and the vomiting and sent me home.

I followed up the next day with my regular doc. He sent me for an MRI the following day. I didn't think to tell him that I was claustrophobic. I told the folks at the MRI clinic, but they didn't give me anything. I spent an hour in that damn machine, and that was just about all I could take. The only thing that kept me lying still was the prospect of having to do it all over again. My doctor has since promised that if we ever have to do that again (and he doesn't anticipate needing it) he will write me a sedative. Anyhow, it turns out that I had a mucus cyst in my sinuses. So he put me on big doses of antibiotics, because apparently the swelling of the cyst was pushing on some nerves or blood vessels and causing all the mess of that super-headache. But we do know "It's not a tumor" (yes, you have to read that in the Arnie voice). And it's not any anatomical problems like an aneurysm or a stroke.

I went back today for the post-antibiotics follow up. It became the mid-antibiotics follow-up when I told him I didn't feel much different and that I'd gotten a similar but much less severe migraine the day before. I'm on amoxicillin for another 10 days, and then I go back again. The problem is, partly, that I'm back around to my menstrual cycle again, so the question is, are these headaches because of hormone levels, or because of the cyst? So, I've started a headache diary that I'll take back with me in 10 more days. If you are a fellow sufferer, check out the diary at WebMD's headache center. It's a pretty comprehensive list of symptoms and possible triggers.

Anyhow, I should get to bed, because sleep is one of the treatments, and lack of sleep one of the triggers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Today Sucks Large

Okay, I'm extra grouchy at the moment, and I'm blogging about it, which is probably not a good sign. If you want to keep your cheery picture of me, SKIP THIS POST. This post was never here....

So anyway, for those of you who just can't stop yourselves:

I've been so busy and not blogging lately because I got two academic interviews back to back. I flew to Georgia last week on Wednesday, interviewed Thursday (all day long), and flew back to KC Friday with just two hours before my second interview. I felt I did really well in both interviews, but this is an incredibly competitive field...

I know that the school in Georgia is not hiring me. This is why I'm in a crap-tastic mood. I don't yet know about the one in KC, but the more I think about it, I don't really want to move back to the city.

So, odds are, in the next few months I'll be blogging about helping run a fast food restaurant. I've got nearly 8 years of experience and am in management already, so I'm just planning to make it official. I can be good at this job, and I can make things work. I'm just disappointed right now and wondering why I spent ten years in college to do this.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Being a Thinking Christian, pt. 2

If you haven't seen it yet, go read the first part I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

I decided to go back and write the rest of this while watching Meet the Press tonight. (The link is to the rough transcript released earlier today).

The Rev. Jim Wallis said this: "There is theocracy. There is fundamentalism in all of our religions. The answer to bad religion is not secularism, it's better religion. So prophetic faith always is the corrective. I see it now around the country. A whole generation of faith-inspired activists, a new generation, are really starting a new civil rights movement on poverty, on the environment. They want a progressive faith. They want to put their faith--they have personal faith, but not private faith. God--in the Bible, it's a public God; cares about justice and peace and equity and fairness. And this prophetic faith drives movements, and that's the best way for religion to shape a democracy, not by competing religiosities in the public square, but a moral discourse on politics. All Americans want our politics to have a moral compass. I see it all the time going on around the country. We're have a wide, diverse conversation with lots of young people who want their faith to shape public discourse."

This is the faith I have found, the faith my husband and I have, I think, found together. It has changed us both, and I don't just mean in the warm, fuzzy "God saved me from X-horrible-thing-I-was doing" sort of conversion. It made us think, really think, about where we were and how we were responding to God's call. Let me back up a bit, to how we got there.

As I said before, I was impressed that Luther (and early Reformationists in general) had insisted on a thinking faith, a faith studied, meditated on, considered. And I slowly found myself doing just that--studying, considering, debating, even. After making my way through the Bible, especially with the context offered in a good study bible (there are lots of options out there--I just linked the one I was familiar with), I was a little more confident on what was in there, but I also wanted better insight on church history, since that also comes up often. And, as Robert A. Heinlein wrote, "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." With two millennia to cover, I had no idea where to start, and my studies drifted off for a while.

Then I borrowed How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill from my mother-in-law. I enjoyed the writing style as well as the wealth of information on how the Irish "green martyrs" brought texts back to the mainland and helped re-establish the western world as we now know it. In my usual fashion, I scooped up his next two books, which were out by that point: The Gifts of the Jews and Desire of the Everlasting Hills. This last was the book that really changed things for us. Colin and I had read Gifts together, and we were very impressed. We then moved to Desire, and it made us rethink things. If you have not read this book, and you want an understanding of how Christianity started and who they were and what they were doing before the whole thing went corporate (namely, in the conversion of the Roman Empire via Constantine), READ THIS BOOK.

After reading DEH, Colin and I realized that part of why we were less than satisfied was that our church's vision of "mission" and "service" was at best knocking on doors and inviting people to church. I've personally never been a big fan of what we jokingly call "arm-twisting for Jesus." Mostly because I think, particularly in modern America, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone totally unfamiliar with the Story. (And that was several years ago, before The Passion kicked up the fires again.) People avoid churches not because they don't know they're there, not because they don't know about Jesus, but because they don't like what they see there. I can understand that. I've been that person.

Servanthood is the answer to hypocrisy. Showing, rather than telling. Slowly, we realized that we no longer wanted to be part of the church we were at (and by this point, I really felt "at" was a more appropriate description than "in"). We started looking at other churches in the area. Quakers, though interesting politically, were too unstructured for us. We both come from liturgical habits, and we like the format of church, the shared worship of music and liturgy, the prompting of a good minister. Neither of us can quite get along with Catholicism, and we weren't going to go halfway. If you're going to become Catholic, you ought to accept all of it, and neither of us can quite go the step of an infallible Papacy. (Not to mention that we're rather happy using birth control.) So we looked at what I call "first-generation" Reformed churches: Lutheran, Episcopal/Anglican, or Presbyterian. We'd already been at the only nearby Lutheran, and Colin was not sure he liked the direction the American Episcopal church was going. There's a Presbyterian church just a few blocks from our house, so I started looking into it.

I'm a nerd. I live online. So the first thing I reached for was not even the local phonebook. I went online and searched the phonebook there. Two Presbyterian churches in town: one Cumberland Presbyterian, one Presbyterian Church (USA). So I Googled. The Cumberland website was like the Our Gang clubhouse: for insiders only. The PC(USA) site actually gave a lot of information about what the church (nationally) believes, how it works and is organized, answering a lot of our first sorts of questions. So, we called the church and arranged to sit down and talk with the pastor. We decided we'd visit for a while, and were instantly welcomed by the congregation. After a few months, we went through an Inquirer's class, then transferred our membership to the church, making us officially the first new members brought to the church by the Internet.

When we had talked with Wally (and we talked a lot--he really relishes the intellectual challenges that we tend to put in front of him), he understood and supported a lot of our ideas. He was envisioning change for the church--not anything drastic or merely for the sake of change, but to reinvigorate the congregation and get them reaching out, rather than just looking inward. He also shared our want for space to tackle Christianity intellectually: to study and share our thoughts about meaning as well as finding work in the church.

Since we've started attending, one of the big changes has been the addition of a Wednesday night dinner/meeting where we study and discuss. It started when the church did the 40 Days of Purpose as a group last year for Lent, reading Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life (okay, I'm getting tired, I'm skipping the links now. Remind me and I'll post them in comments later). Then they did a study of Phillipians. Then another book...which is on the shelf in the bedroom, but my husband's already asleep.

We also started a young adult group (being for the post-high school, pre-middle-age group), and while it didn't particularly stick past the summer, we talked a lot about service among that group of people. Simultaneously, Colin & I were reading C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity (I did promise I would come back to him). Amazing stuff. Again, I highly recommend that anyone wanting to know about the basics of what Christians agree on should READ THIS BOOK. (Especially you, Alan.)

And we mentioned it to Wally. He had read it years ago, but our mention got him thinking about Lewis again. And as Lent approached, the session agreed with Wally to move away from the assigned lectionary again for a series of sermons linked to a common study by the church. He and they chose a video series of lectures by Dr. Earl Palmer (I'll link these, too, if I can find it) on Lewis' life and teachings as they relate to Christianity, to pair with a common reading of Mere Christianity and sermons relating to Lewis' discussions in the book. And when we showed up the first week, Wally came up to us and said "This is because of you guys. You inspired me."

It was a good feeling. And it was because we had wanted to know more, to think and meditate more on what our faith MEANS, what it requires of us. And I think it is things like this that are moving the people Rev. Wallis was talking about when I quoted him way up there earlier in the post.

G'night folks. Happy Easter. He is Risen!

I know, I'm slow...

Things have been so busy this week that I've barely had time to think, let alone blog. For those of you who may not have been in on my mass emails:

I have a job interview in a week and a half with a small college in Georgia. This has taken a lot of my time and will continue to do so for a while, since I'm trying to make sure my portfolio is totally up to date before I head down there. I'm pulling together updates since last spring, so there's plenty to go through.

After the conference last week, I went straight into my school's spring break. Unfortunately, that meant working four days at my fast food job to try to pay the bills for said conference. Physically draining, since I haven't done that sort of physical labor since early January.

Plus, it was Holy Week. I didn't attend ALL of our church services (partly because who really wants to attend a 7AM outdoor service in Missouri in March?), but I still took the time to reflect on the season and the lessons I'm taking from it this year. At one point Thursday, I found myself praying for God to show me the path he wants me to take (with the job interview, my future, our family plans)...and it struck me that, on this same day, Jesus prayed "not my will, but Thine be done." That's where I need to be, and I think I'm getting close, especially on the job issue. There are a lot of good things I can do here, even if I don't become a professor. I just don't know what He wants me to I have to wait to see what He lays before me.

Monday, March 21, 2005


If you're not reading it already, check out 63 Days. The story is a tragedy... at 15, Alli was shipped off to a "rehabilitation program" which even now (after about 5 or 6 days worth of the story) I can tell is horribly abusive and evil. Help support Alli in telling her tale, so that people will know about these things. And before you ask, I have googled some of the people in the tale (counselors, the head of the program) and the news sources on the net support the generalities of Alli's story, even if they don't address the specifics of her time in Challenger. I am naturally suspicious because so much of the internet is filled with legend not necessarily connected to fact, but this one checks out.

And thanks to TheZeroBoss for pointing the story out and getting me started reading it.

So, does this mean I'm a drunk?

Apologies for all the extra space...can't figure out where it is to fix it.

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 134 proof, with specific scores in beer (80) , wine (133), and liquor (95).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 70% on proof

You scored higher than 92% on beer index

You scored higher than 97% on wine index

You scored higher than 94% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

Saturday, March 19, 2005

News from Florida

The conference is going well, so far. We're all really enjoying ourselves, although there have been rough spots. First, there was a person whose crassness really made a dinner last year uncomfortable. That person has returned (see, I'm even avoiding the mention of gender, here), and gave a really almost embarrassingly weak paper. Unfortunately, said paper was presented between two papers which I really wanted to hear, so I couldn't really just run away.

Second--we were stuck on a floor where about 8 rooms in our hallway were occupied by people on spring break. Apparently, rather than seeing the hotel as a haven from the partying and craziness, these folks saw it as the main party site. Slamming doors repeatedly at 4AM is apparently now cool. I am now officially old, because I was party to repeatedly calling the front desk and complaining--eventually leading (I think) to the offenders being ejected from the hotel. At the very least, they were checking out before 5AM, so we should sleep better tonight.

On the good side, however, my paper and all of my friends' papers seem to have gone spectacularly. We've gotten good, insightful comments and questions, and we've held up well under cross-examination. :) Sharon will have her paper published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and she has been contacted about expanding it into a possible book chapter. I'm working on my own book proposal, which seems to be going well. And Kathy has actually managed to get some sleep--although not enough, thanks to the dimwits from Spring Break.

The banquet tonight should be fantastic (appropriately, yes?), and I'm hoping that I may do well in the Graduate Student Award competition. More once I get home...

Friday, March 11, 2005

In the style of Terry Pratchett

Crosswind waited for the next of an all-day series of student conferences--which set her apart from most of her colleagues*. Unfortunately, this schedule also meant a lunch of meat-onna-bun, rather than a satisfying feast with beer at the Newe Heidelberg** down the street.
So many of these kids don't get it, she thought. They just don't understand that most of them really are average.

In another hour or so, Crosswind was able to get away long enough to check her messages with Grrrr****, one of the department's thinking-machines. She had to fight for space with others who were checking mail, shopping or playing solitaire. The Corey-Seedin DFP weren't helping her cold much, but at least they made the conferences entertaining.

On the way back from Grrrr's lab, Instructor Crosswind was unable to avoid the Director of Compost-ition.

"So, I heard you're wanting to do research on the students?"

"Yes, I want to write about how they respond to having certain topics assigned."

"Oh, you just want to write? Then why do I need to sign off on this Review of Research form?"

"Because, since grades are involved indirectly in the study, students might be considered an at-risk population."

"At risk of what?"


"Well, we can't have them getting any of that. It could be disastrous for retention..." and he went blithering away in his fog of officious mediocrity.

*The mark of advancement in the university involves mainly having as little as possible to do with students.
**Formerly the Olde Heidelberg***
***Until the fire, that is....
****So named for the sound emitted by its users.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Being a Thinking Christian

I know, some people would say it's an oxymoron, but usually it's presented as an insult by people who don't want to believe the two can co-exist because that would threaten their little worldview.

I haven't been a Christian all my life. I was lukewarm at best growing up, and in high school, I was an agnostic because I couldn't make church make sense. Why? Because my pastor wouldn't answer my questions. I had a lot of them, and they were tough. I haven't answered them all by any means. Sometimes it really sucks to be a smart kid, because adults won't always take you seriously. It really came to a head when some folks that I was in church choir with wanted to circulate a petition for a state referendum to keep gays from having "special rights," as they put it. I had questions. Like, why was the right to not be discriminated against in jobs or housing "special." And how did this whole thing reconcile with Jesus' command to love our neighbors as ourselves. No one wanted to answer me, including the pastor. So I gave up on the church and Christianity in general because of stupid hypocrites. I still sang in the choir, because I liked the music, but I was all but pulling out a book during the sermons.

Then, in college, I met Colin. He's a wonderful man, and he really tries to be a good Christian. Like me, sometimes his thoughts would get in the way, but rather than giving up, he pushed for answers. He grew up Lutheran, and so we were married in a Lutheran church by a pastor who also was a thinker. In fact, he's probably a better thinker than a preacher, but he is called to do it even when getting up in public makes him physically ill. That's dedication. I was a German major at the time, so I was also exposed to a lot of Luther's thoughts and writings in German culture and history courses. And it struck me that Luther in particular, and the early protestants in general, were all advocating a thinking belief. That's why getting the Bible into the vernacular languages was so important--it unlocked the word of God so people didn't have to have it fed to them by Church authorities, and then they could examine it and really dig into the beliefs on their own.

I started reading voraciously. I wondered, more than once, if I was the only person who sat down and read the Bible cover to cover--including all the footnotes in my Concordia Self-Study Bible. I also borrowed a copy of the whole thing on audiotape from our pastor so I could listen in the car during my long commutes to school. And I really came to believe, and to believe that I was supposed to be constantly examining the church and the world to determine for myself what God wanted me (and the various communities I belonged to) are supposed to be doing.

Okay, I didn't quite get to CS Lewis this time, but I think that's enough pulpit time for one Sunday afternoon. Besides--Colin's barbecuing, and there's a dog to play with outside before the rain moves in.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


I'm going to go see today what someone OUTSIDE of my department thinks of my academic work. And I'm terrified. And it's totally silly.

The paper I'm giving today "Prospero's Magic: Magia or Goetia?" is a good paper. I got an A on it 3 years ago (after rewriting the whole thing over Christmas break). God, I'm such a dork for judging myself based on grades, but what person goes to grad school who didn't? In fact, I'm going to be giving the same paper in a few weeks at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, where it's entered in the Grad Student Award competition (I could use the $250 to help pay for the trip). But even though I'm being judged there too, I'm not worried about it. I know the audience there. They are, in many cases, my friends. True colleagues, in the emotional sense of collegial.

Today, I'm presenting at MU's Research and Creative Activities Forum. Basically, the GPC (Graduate and Professional Council, which represents all the grad students, plus those in the Med and Law Schools) brings in professors from outside MU to judge the work of those of us who are brilliant enough to submit it. There are 7 people in the "Humanities" category, and I'm not sure if the creative writers and I are directly competing or not. I'm the only name I recognize from my dept. who's not in the CW program. And I'm afraid I'm going to sound stupid. Anyhow, some portion up to the 7 of us in Humanities are competing for a single prize (the dollar amount of which I can't currently recall). Again, I could use it to help pay for my trip to ICFA later this month. Which is the whole reason I entered. I was a lot more confident about this a month ago.

If I win (which is looking less and less likely as my pre-presentation paranoia/pessimism sets in), I fully intend to crow in the department newsletter. Although they probably won't see it this way, I can choose to interpret it as rubbing my former committee's nose in the idea that I really do know what I'm doing, and they're too close-minded to recognize it.

Pray for me. Not necessarily to win (I always feel bad about asking God to intervene in something so trivial), but just to get through it without looking incredibly stupid. Just let me answer the Q&A without any major gaffes. Luckily, I don't have to worry about pronunciation--everything's Latin or Italian, and 8 years of school choirs at least taught me how to do the vowels. And how to breathe. I need to remember that.

Now I need to go take a shower and start getting ready.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Short Blog Today

I really need to be grading, so I'll keep it brief.

One of my students is, at best, really sloppy about documentation. At worst, this person thought they could skimp on the work and just paraphrase a couple of web documents to build several of their main points. I am disappointed. And grouchy. And it's probably good that I have two days to calm myself before the confrontation. But I have a plan, and it does involve reporting to the Provost's office (so these things can be tracked).

More later on C. S. Lewis and matters of faith... although later may be next week at this rate.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Smelling the Tulips...and hyacinths....and stuff

Yesterday, amid my other not-doing-stuff, I managed to sift through some photo files. Some of the files are kinda big, so I'm linking to them rather than plugging the URLS in directly. That way it's your choice if you're crawling along on dialup.

These are from the flowerbed in front of our porch: Yellow Tulip, Pink Tulips, Hyacinths?.

Then these little things showed up as volunteers among the grass in the front yard.

Finally, here's my "baby." Two years ago, Lily was a tiny little pup the day we brought her home. Now, she's a very good girl who likes to play with her toys.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wonder Woman Doesn't Live Here

So, I'm reading Jen's blog this afternoon, particularly her Saturday post. And I find myself thinking toward that some of us girls should be asking what Feminism has done for us lately.

Wait, before you kick me out of the sisterhood--I am a self-identified feminist. Small "f". I appreciate the advances made in the last century or so. I like voting (although I'm not real whippy about my choices lately), I like education, I like birth control. I would like to see more advances in pay equity and in the boardrooms of America. HOWEVER, I think pieces of feminism have...evolved into something different. What I think of as classic feminism (first- and second-wave) sought equal treatment under the law. Absolutely necessary. Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex established la differance, that a woman is not just Man-Lite. Bingo.

But somewhere along the way, Feminists and feminists branched out. I think of big "F" Feminists as the ones with the press coverage. They're the popular, although not totally accurate, picture of women who think that equality means being exactly the same as men. Unfortunately, in practice, this ends up becoming a sort of attitude where women think they have to do everything men have been traditionally responsible for (success in business/wage-earning) as well as everything women have been traditionally responsible for (housekeeping, cooking, child-rearing, etc.). In other words, we're somehow supposed to be Wonder Woman, able to juggle a career, a traditional family life, and the fight for equality all while saving the world.

My mother tried to do it all. She has worked since I was two-ish, first as a radiology & nuclear medicine technician, then as a medical transcriptionist who eventually moved up the corporate ladder into being part of the design team that creates record-management systems for new hospitals that contract with her company. On top of that, she went to all the PTA meetings, served as scorekeeper for two sets of softball teams (luckily, my sister and I rarely played at the same time), kept three kids fed, clothed and up to date on homework, and drove them around to Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Job's Daughters, church groups, play rehearsals and even jobs. She taught me to sew, cross-stitch, crochet and cook.

Not that my dad didn't help--don't get me wrong, he's always been incredibly supportive, and there were a number of times that my sister and I split the parental involvement when our schedules conflicted. He generally took care of the laundry and ironing (until it became my job), kept the cars running, the electronics hooked up--all that generically "guy stuff." He taught me how to change a tire, starch a collar, swing a hammer, and take apart a clogged sink drain. Anyhow, back to Mom.

She spent years exhausting herself. More often than not, she was out the door before I was really awake, to beat the traffic for her commute. She was almost always the last one home, rolling in around 5:30 after picking up one or more kids at the babysitter or daycare. I watched this for years without really thinking about it, but when my husband and I started talking about how our family would be, I knew I didn't want to kill myself that way.

But I've tried to anyhow. It's what I grew up with as normal, and it's taken me time to sort out how to make my life work--a little better, anyway. Still working on it. I overloaded myself with academic expectations beyond what I really wanted to do. I let myself get lured away from the literature I truly cared about to "Real Literature" in my studies because it was "more marketable." I let my home nearly fall apart, both in terms of the clutter and in my relationship with my husband. I put myself on hold. For years.

I have to limit my committments. Including the ones that are only to myself. I have to find a way to be productive by my own standards, not someone else's. So, today I avoided grading again--it will get done in time, and my course management system gets quirky during peak traffic times anyway. I baked a cake--because I felt like taking cake to a friend's house for the Oscars. I knitted (because I'd like to have this sweater before I go to Florida in a month, although that is probably moronic).

So, what have Feminists done for me lately? Not much, other than making me feel like I ought to be doing a lot more than I really need to. feminists (back to the small "f") give me comfort and a feeling of completeness when I am feeling "domestic" and support when I'm feeling like challenging the status quo. The big F Feminists make me feel guilty for not challenging it to their standards. They can go hang...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

These are the Saturdays I Miss

I'm sitting around, doing almost nothing. Sure, I need to clean up before people come over this evening; I've got laundry that needs folding and ironing; I've got papers to grade. But I'm sitting here instead, blogging. At that, I'm being more productive than I was 20 minutes ago, when I was playing online games. But the day is mine, and I can do with it what I want. That is what I've been missing.

For a fair portion of the last 8 years, half or more of my weekends have been forfeited in one way or another. For years, we held a roleplaying game on Sunday afternoons. Every other week, I'd work at a fast food chain, because they always need people on Saturdays. Or we'd go to a Magic tournament, taking up hours on end. A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided we needed to cut back on the busyness and just relax. I spent the whole weekend reading and knitting just because I wanted to. I didn't even check email for two days. I got a small piece of my life back, and it was wonderful.

Rather than stressing out so much, I think I need to take attitude lessons from my dog. Right now, she's dozing in the bathtub (because the porcelain is nice and cool), and her only care is that we're not playing with her right this second. So I feel no regrets that I'm sitting here doing not much more than enjoying the blues on the satellite radio station, listening to Ray Charles, Floyd Dixon and B. B. King. The music is good, my coffee was good, lunch gave me a happy belly, and if all isn't right with the world, at least this little corner is doing okay.

Friday, February 25, 2005

So, what's with the title?

I'm sure some of you wonder about the title up there. I wanted something better than "Gina's blog" for sure, and I was looking around my house, trying to see what defined me. Best bet is the wall o' books in my dining room. We literally had bookshelves built completely covering one wall of the room, because we had too many books for our two six-foot shelves from Wally World. I thought that I could get buried under all those words...

And then there's the fact that, as a composition teacher, I get periodically flooded with my students' papers. Another avalanche of words, this time burying me in work. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here, because today was one of those days--I've got 30 papers on horror movies to grade by next Friday.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

nulla dies sine linea

That's "never a day without a line" from Horace in 658 BC, for those of us who don't read Latin. I picked it up in a composition textbook, and it's something I'm trying to do.

Make no mistake--I don't think of myself as a writer. First and foremost, I'll probably always think of myself as a teacher. Then a scholar, although I mostly do that to keep teaching. I love to read, and I truly believe it when I tell my students that I don't really know what I mean until I've written it. I have learned immeasurably from reading and working with writers of all stripes.

So, why am I doing this? Well, partly because Jen told me I should. She's a good friend, and she knows just when to push me into something. (Although I still don't know how to drive a stick-shift--instead we got a pickup with an automatic.) Also because I need someplace to let my mind sort out all the little bits and pieces floating around it. And mostly because I want people to respond.

I talk about the academic enterprise (at least, those parts of it I am most familiar with) as a never-ending cocktail party. You come in, you listen to what people are saying to get a sense of the conversation, then you find your own stance and start talking. People respond, and on and on, until you finally have to leave, and they'll still be talking with and about you after you're gone. It's this exchange that I crave, and I've spent 4 years at an institution where the exchange is stifled by the competitive nature of the PhD granting institution.

So bear with me, folks.