Monday, June 28, 2010

good news and bad news

One of my friends got a request for a partial AND with someone at Curtis Brown no less! I am so pumped for her right now. Smiling since I read it.

In other news, I am SO SICK OF TEACHING. Teaching in the summer = money good; summer not so good... I hate feeling like there's somewhere I have to be every day. Wow, do I sound spoiled or what? I know most of the world works year round, but the grading. Good gravy, the grading! And the questions and the confusion and it's the same thing every time and... I love teaching, but it makes sense we get the summer off. It's for sanity's sake.

You know it's bad when you're thinking, "what if I got hurt... not horrible bad, but a couple of nights in the hospital bad... just for the break. Food on trays... quiet but for the beeping... everyone telling you you need to sleep..." Yeah. Not good. I just need to buck up and stay on top of things so I don't get depressed and overwhelmed.

Which means going to bed at a decent hour, like now. So tired. I don't know why I fight sleep.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

good fences

If good fences make good neighbors, knowing when to take down that fence makes a better one, I think.

My neighbor across the street is an elderly woman recovering from cancer and battling MS. She moves very slowly and meticulously through her yard, planting her flowers, sitting on her porch. We wave across the street and have had a few longer conversations. She's watched our boys when they were younger, and my husband mows her yard.

Today, she took a very long time to make it to the door, and she was shaking. Each step was carefully placed and held before she took the next. She is very sick, and she's not sure what it is. I sat with her, brought her some of her things, cut up an apple for her and fed and let her dog out.

She and I are not especially close, but I find myself looking across the street to her quiet, blue house tonight. I have her key and will be checking on her in the morning and again after my class tomorrow afternoon. The truth is, I think she will rally from this, but I worry that if she gets too low, her children will try to put her in a home. You might say that's the best thing... but for whom? She likes puttering in her garden, she likes living on her own-- she once told me she never gets lonely, she enjoys solitude.

And I think I worry because I see myself in 40 years, wishing to be self reliant, longing to hold onto myself and my property, hoping to die as I lived.

If you think of it, pray for my friend Nancy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Because it's easier

There is a defeatist part of me that wants to just give up on the full time work search. Not that I will. And it's not like I'm all "MUST HAVE CAREER IN ORDER TO BE COMPLETE," I just need the money to help support my family.

Anyway. I have this weird feeling of being physically tied to earth. Like a bird that remembers flying really well; there's this clear picture in my head of what it is like, but whenever I flap my wings and send out those resumes, I remain hopelessly grounded. And I wonder how much ego is too much or not enough? Do I cut bait and remain an adjunct forever or spend the money and precious time I have left with my children pursuing a PhD so I can land full time work? Because the jobs that used to hire you with a master's are getting PhDs applying because this job market sucks that badly. Education may be doing okay, but higher education is taking a hit. Not sure what I need to do; I've got experience in the field and the classroom, a master's GPA of 3.9, excellent (see above the department's average) student evaluation rating, and I can't get an interview? Yeah, maybe I should just accept adjunct status. Forever.

And I'm not actually down. I'm just trying to decide where to draw the line-- egotism, realism, hopefulness, naivete, and having zero faith in myself. Because I promise you, I vacillate between them all day long on this job thing.

And it would be easier to just... quit flapping my wings, accept that I'm a chicken not an eagle, and peck contentedly at the ground. I mean, at least I have work; I know there are plenty who have none.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just an update

So we got season passes to Kings Island (an amusement park) this year. We've already gone twice and are going tomorrow, at which point, the passes just paid for themselves. I love roller coasters and water rides and all of the above, but I'm a little worried the boys (or I?) will get sick of it. Mike is too hard to read. He keeps saying it's great exercise-- which is true. You walk for like 7 hours and don't even notice it until you're walking to the car and your entire body is one big ache.

And we might hit the water park side tomorrow too, get some sun and swimming in, since the boys leave for a weeklong "Grandma and Grandpa Camp" with my parents on Thursday. There are 8 grandkids going in total ranging in age from 13 to 7, I think. It was tougher when they were younger, I'm sure, but it's still not cake walk. They're a little crazy... in a good way.

Which means Mike and I will be alone for a week. We've already decided to travel to my in-laws' cabin for a few days to chill and enjoy the mountain air, and I'm sure we'll just hang out at home-- though can I say that by day 3 I'm just missing my kids? I can't help it. What will I do when they leave for college?

I can't think about it now. Now I've got to consider the 35 papers left to grade before Friday; the clothes that need to be washed, folded, and packed before Wednesday; the house that needs to be especially clean for my book club girls by Sunday... *overwhelmed* If I weren't so tired, I'd get on it now, 11 p.m. or not. As it is, sleep is the only option. After all, we've a full day of Kings Island in a matter of hours.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bipolar or just in need of work?

I hear lawnmowers in stereo, the result of my two boys mowing the front and back lawn simultaneously, made possible by the two mowers we have since my husband mows older women's lawns in the summer.

Mike is down at his dad's mowing and weeding and mulching, oh my! And I sit. Here. Needing to grade and just not feeling it. Of course that's not really a condition of whether we do what needs doing, right? Hard work is "hard" for a reason. But there are times I'm actually in the zone, and the grading comes quicker and easier. Right now it's taking forever to get through a paper; I'm really forcing it.

So a break to blog about the break... downright transcendental.

I wonder what really affects moods. I mean, aside from the obvious: weather, relationships, difficulties in life-- what makes me wake up in a certain mood one day and another the very next? It all seems so arbitrary that I should feel hopeful one day and abysmal the next, when nothing in my life has changed significantly.

I don't know. But I do know this: I am not cut out to be unemployed (not that I am right now; I'll be teaching all summer, but I do have a week off before the next quarter starts). As much as I like the "idea" of being rich and not needing to work, the truth is that without something at least one or two days a week to get dressed for, something where people are counting on me and I'm getting paid to do it, I fall into a bit of a wandering depression. Not that there aren't amazing days that I'm thankful to be off-- to read or sleep or fold laundry and watch movies, but I find that it's tough to consistently have nowhere that I "have" to be.

Now, I'll never love full time work (though I'd give anything for a full time job right now), but I need to work part time, to get out and share knowledge, listen, and be listened to. Maybe if I were rich, I'd just join a lot of clubs-- book clubs, writing clubs, cooking classes... stuff like that. Still, there's something to be said for needing a paycheck and working hard to get it.

It's cleansing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Logistics of Being Forgotten

My son went through some heavy bullying his sixth grade year (basically, he was hit every day and no one seemed to be able to stop it), so we transferred him to a Christian school. One that shares our beliefs and is the reason I piece together work at three different colleges as an adjunct trying to make ends meet. (Read: IT'S EXPENSIVE, YO).

But he's been fitting in there, making friends, adjusting. His grades are good, and the girls seem to like him too. (Heh, those girls. That's another post.) So he's looking forward to his yearbook, maybe for the very first time, and when it came yesterday, and the kids are excitedly turning to their class page, pointing fingers under gap-toothed smiles and bad hair days frozen forever, my son can't find his picture. Or his name. In fact, except for a random, tiny candid a page back (no name in sight) it's as if he never attended.

It made me angry. How difficult is it to double check a roster? How hard is it to notice you're missing an entire person?

But Jay is quiet, kind, and smart. He sighed and smiled, as if this was inevitable, expected. And that just made it worse, somehow. No one should expect to be forgotten. I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that his yearbook has no more room for signatures-- both inside covers are full. His new friends will not forget him, pic or no.

And I want to bring this full circle, share something I've learned... apply it all to the bigger picture, but being forgotten, or worse yet, having your child forgotten, just makes you annoyed.

So I guess I'll focus on the fact that he's here, with many years ahead of him (and I'll be on the yearbook staff next year-- no seriously), a healthy, happy kid, ours for five more years.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Dixie Cup Mentality

I am going to clean out my fridge today. Pull out every last disgusting bit, spray the whole thing down, and start over-- putting back what's still good. I don't anticipate there being a lot of things to toss, as I do this once a month, but there will be a few. And every time I throw away food that was once perfectly good and has gone to waste, it's never without a tinge of good old fashioned 1920s guilt.

See, my mom's parents divorced when she was 8, leaving her to be raised primarily by her Grandma and Grandpa. Her mom was there, but in less of a traditional mom capacity; her heart and mind were broken, and she spent the rest of her life trying (never fully succeeding?) to repair the damage to both.

But anyway, her grandma. My great grandma. Now she lived to 95 (still living at home, mind you, mind sharp as a tack), so I knew her well too. She met my son, her great great grandson, and I treasure the picture of her holding him and laughing. But anyway, she was old. She lived during the Great Depression, so she knows a thing or two about poverty and making use of everything you have, and she passed this mentality on to my mother. My mom always found a way to make use of everything. It seemed to pain her to have to toss anything past its prime, and needless to say, my father (of a similar mindset) made sure we cleaned our plates.

So, it's guilt that has me reconsidering this "Dixie Cup" mentality, as my mom puts it. Use and toss... And they say we're in a depression nearing that great one-- so why aren't there bread lines and more homeless? Shoes made out of cardboard and rubber bands? I think it's either that we're not actually as bad off as all that or technology that's kept us from getting to that point. We are too distracted to really take in how awful things have gotten-- the internet, TV, movies, cell phones-- (and if we can afford these luxuries, again, we're not to the same point or we'd be in cardboard shoes talking into tin cans-- just sayin').

Either way, I plan to revel in the guilt, to purchase more frugally, to continue cooking like I have been-- eating out much less than we have before. And yes, applying for more full time work.

Have you noticed a difference in your area? Do you tend to throw a lot out?


I am non-confrontational by nature. And apparently, God wants me to grow because lately I've been given several situations in which my only choices are to sit idly by while something bad happens or step in and confront someone.

This quarter has been unique, to say the least. A fight broke out in my classroom, and I teach college, not high school. And this other student-- in the same class-- challenged my authority at every turn, calling me "Sweet Pea" for Pete's sake. And my response is to want to hide my head in the sand and ignore it; wait for this quarter to end, so I can start over with new students and pretend it never happened.

Except that feels horrible. When someone does something that you feel is wrong, something that offends you and you say nothing... it feels like a lie. Like if you keep on saying nothing, they will assume you don't care, and the truth is you do.

Well, I'll tell you the truth. There's no happy ending to this one. I emailed the students involved (coward that I am) and am happily awaiting the LAST class of the quarter tomorrow. I will literally dance my way off campus at last bell. BUT. It will be short lived. Because as my mom put it, it's a violation -- a verbal one, true, but a violation nonetheless, and what did I do? The very least I possibly could. The kids learned nothing about respecting the position of authority-- about boundaries, about common freaking decency.

So I failed. Except, I'm writing this out, I'm analyzing my actions, I'm learning from this sick feeling in my gut.

And I won't fail (in this) again.